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SoftMaker Office 2008 focuses on compatibility with Microsoft Office

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The free and open source office suite OpenOffice.org might be a killer app for many, but its inability to properly display documents created in the proprietary Microsoft Office formats hinders its widespread acceptance in multi-OS business environments with many legacy .doc and .xls files. If changing over to an open document format is not an option, try SoftMaker Office. It's no OpenOffice.org-killer, but it's a full featured office suite that has great compatibility with Microsoft Office. Sure, it costs $80, but you can increase your karma by running it on Linux.

This isn't SoftMaker Office's first Linux release. We looked at a beta release of SoftMaker Office 2006, which lacked presentation software and bundled an incomplete spreadsheet program; in fact its only real usable component was the word processor. SoftMaker Office 2008 for Linux, announced last month, is the first non-beta release of the office suite for Linux, which also runs on Windows, Pocket PC, and Windows CE. It provides a word processor (TextMaker), a spreadsheet app (PlanMaker), and a presentation software (SoftMaker Presentations). You also have the ability to create databases and to draw some objects, as in OpenOffice.org, but from within the other apps rather than from standalone apps.

The first thing you notice about any SoftMaker app is its speedy launch. All SoftMaker apps launch almost instantaneously, even on relatively dated hardware. For instance, on a Celeron 1.3GHz laptop with 1GB RAM, TextMaker launches in less than a second, rather than the 8-10 seconds it takes to launch OpenOffice.org Writer.

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