OFFICE ON A STICK

Corel has come out with a new Office suite on a flash drive, a memory stick that plugs into the USB slot on a Windows computer.Corel Home Office

Corel calls it “Home Office” and they’re marketing it for the small netbook computers that have proved so popular. These have no disk drive, so they can’t install programs that come on disk. Though netbooks are their target customer, Home Office can be installed on any Windows computer and offers most of the tools that users get with Microsoft Office.

The price for Corel’s office on a stick is $70, compared to $400-$500 for Microsoft Office. In all fairness, you get more features and programs with Microsoft Office, but many people don’t use or need them all.

Another advantage of Corel’s office on a stick is that it uses very few system resources. The whole suite takes up only 100 megabytes, compared with Microsoft Office that requires 1.5 gigabytes, 15 times as much. Home Office comes with a word processor, a spreadsheet and a presentation program, but does not have a database.

Corel’s office has the look and feel of Microsoft Office 2007 and can read and write documents that are compatible with the latest versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. There’s a free trial version at Corel.com.

Though Corel’s office comes on a stick, that doesn’t mean it is one of those portable applications that run off the stick itself without affecting the host computer. If you want one of these, there is a free suite of programs at PortableApps.com. They include a portable version of the free “Open Office,” developed by Sun Microsystems. Portable Apps has been around for a few years but they’re constantly updating the free stuff they offer. Memory sticks, also called flash drives, have become so cheap that the smallest ones you can buy these days will hold everything they have.

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