Sunday, December 30, 2007

An alternative to Word: software found free at GoogleDocs

View from teacher's laptop
Originally uploaded by trudeau
In a NYTimes article entitled "Yes, There Can Be Life After Word," Damon Darlin writes, "Google let me slip Microsoft’s monopoly. Its Google Docs is a free suite of office applications. You can find it at

It works just like Office, but you use it online. The software that makes it work isn’t on your computer, but on one of Google’s.

You use the word processor just like Word, or I should say, the version you might remember from the early 1990s, before Microsoft added all the bells and whistles that you never need.

I had tried to use the stripped-down word processor from Microsoft that came installed on the notebook, Microsoft Works. But it didn’t allow me to paste 500 words into a document, or even a fraction of that, so it seemed too hobbled to use.

Google Docs also has a spreadsheet program that apes Microsoft’s Excel and a presentation application that can substitute for PowerPoint. There is also Calendar, replacing one function of Microsoft Outlook.

The advantage to Google Docs is that you can work on a document at home on one computer, store it and then grab the same document on another computer, even at the office.

You could work on the document with any computer that has an Internet connection. (There’s the hitch: you can’t work on it while on a plane.)"

GoogleDocs represents a new game and an end to the near-monopoly enjoyed by Microsoft for many years. Clearly, smart students and teachers are going to know GoogleDocs.

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