Although Microsoft has dominated the office software market for several years now, other apps have started to claim the wider public's attention. OpenOffice is the suite of choice for those who want a stable, free set of applications; but for those who need to work regularly with Microsoft Office, Ability Office 4.0 may prove the more workable solution.
It's not a question of file format support, but rather the interface: on first opening up Ability Office Basics 4.0, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were working with Microsoft Office 2003.
The biggest change to the latest release of Ability Office 4.0 is compatibility with Windows Vista, but tweaks have taken place to ensure the crossover is as faultless as possible. Thus Ability Office 4.0 programs can now save automatically to Excel, Word or Photoshop formats, while some decent modifications to Ability Office 4.0 Write means it can save to PDF and has a built in spelling and grammar checker for English, French, German and Spanish – which is something missing from OpenOffice.
The Ability Office 4.0 Basics package reviewed here includes Write, Spreadsheet, Photoalbum and Photopaint. Write and Spreadsheet work pretty much as you would expect, while Photoalbum is a basic media manager.
The real surprise is Photopaint: it won't give Adobe Photoshop too much concern, but for the low price tag it proves a highly competent and very usable photo editor.