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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I'm considering replacing my old computer with a new Windows 8 desktop. I have been using an old version of Microsoft Office for many (perhaps, too many) years. Various compatibility checkers I have used do not agree if I will need to replace Office at a rather steep price. What can I do to save myself some money?

A. Your Office software may or may not work depending on how old it is and the capabilities of your new computer. When you receive your new computer, you might simply try to install your old software and see what happens. New computers also offer various compatibility settings that try their best to run old programs and hardware and often succeed. But you'll never know until you try. It's possible that it will work as expected and if it doesn't install, no harm will be done. However, you might have to go through your system and delete unneeded files and folders.

But rather than dealing with compatibility issues to get an older version of software working or spending hundreds of dollars on new software, have you considered simply migrating to LibreOffice? It is available here and it is an absolutely free Office-compatible program which includes substitutes for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. I should point out that the Access substitute (called Base in LibreOffice) is not drop-in compatible with some older versions of Access. If Access is important to you, you might want to consider working a bit harder to install your existing Access program.

Otherwise, I have found that LibreOffice can easily take the place of the other Office products. LibreOffice will also make the chore of migrating old word-processing formats much easier than you would expect. I have opened 12-year old WordPerfect files with LibreOffice, edited them and then saved to a more modern format such as ODT (LibreOffice) or DOC/DOCX (Microsoft Word) without incident.

While there is a learning curve to any new software, upgrading will allow you take advantage of new features that weren't in your old programs. And it's quite possible that you can have perfectly workable replacements for that old Office suite at no cost.

Published: Courier 7/18/15 - Page 12A