Ability Office

Microsoft has long ruled the nest when it comes to office applications, after all they are pretty much the defacto standard in the office, but if you’ve ever come to buy Microsoft Office XP Professional, for example, for your home PC expecting to do a little work or write the odd letter, you’ll soon realise that it’s a whopping £400. Quite a lot, if all you want to do is write the odd letter to grandma in 48pt text.

So what is one to do I hear you cry? Some turn to Star Office from Sun Microsystems, others muddle by with Works normally bundled with your machine, or worst still some try to get by with WordPad. But there are some that venture into the world of Ability Office, a fully-fledged office package containing a word processor, a spreadsheet program, database solution, drawing package and photo editing suite.

Okay, so it doesn’t have power point, but then when are you going to be sending grandma a 39-slide presentation on your domination of the pub over the next fiscal quarter.

To Microsoft office users, you’ll struggle hard to see the difference at first and spend the first couple of minutes making sure you’ve loaded the right program. Yes they look very similar, and as a cheaper alternative - by some £350 - most people will be happy with the results.

With the word program, aptly named write, you have the chance to save files as a number of options including rtf and lower levels of word. More importantly and perhaps the main USP of this product you have the ability (no pun intended) to save any document within the suite as a PDF to export to friends - a very powerful tool indeed.

Verdict

If you're an occasional user of spreadsheets to run the local scout club accounts or need to write the odd letter to the bank manger, Ability Office is strong enough to get the job done. In fact it's actually a very good alternative to Microsoft Office for the home. There is no annoying paperclip help, no multiple menus to access and confuse. This, as they say, will get you back to writing, drawing, sums, databases and photos with the ease and simplicity of putting your feet up and your dog bringing you your slippers.