CNET's Cheapskate scours the Web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. And find more great buys on the CNET Deals page.
Regular Cheapskate readers know that when it comes to Microsoft Office alternatives, I typically recommend WPS Office (formerly Kingsoft Office). But I was recently made aware that the free version now adds a watermark to printed pages, which is, of course, unacceptable.
So now we need an alternative to that alternative. And here it is: From now until December 24, you can get SoftMaker FreeOffice for Android, Linux or Windows absolutely free. And when you do, SoftMaker will donate 0.07 Euros to betterplace.org, which raises funds for a variety of worthy worldwide projects.
In case you've never heard of it, SoftMaker FreeOffice is the free version of SoftMaker's commercial office suite. It provides word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, all with an interface that closely resembles Microsoft Office 2003.
Speaking of which, FreeOffice is fully file-compatible with Microsoft's suite, though it's slightly hobbled when it comes to the newer DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX formats: it can open them, but not save to them. That's one limitation that SoftMaker hopes will drive you to upgrade to the newer Office 2016 Standard or Professional (which are priced at $69.95 and $89.95, respectively).
I think that's some brilliant marketing on SoftMaker's part, and something I wish other software vendors would emulate. After all, older versions aren't generating any revenue for them, so why not give them away?
That said, FreeOffice should prove more than adequate for folks with basic office-suite needs, and you get a full, unrestricted license, no strings attached (and no watermarks, ahem). In other words, the software is yours to keep forever. There's no pesky shovelware or nagware, either.
To get it, click through to SoftMaker's Load and Help landing page, click the "Download" button, and then choose the version you want. SoftMaker will send you the serial number necessary to activate the program.
I've used FreeOffice on and off over the years, and have found it a fast, compact, capable suite. If that sounds like something you could use, why not grab it now and help a worthwhile charity at the same time? Talk about a win-win!
Bonus deal: I've said it before and I'll say it again: The best mobile chargers have built-in cables. Like this one: For a limited time, and while supplies last, A4C has the iGo Micro-USB Portable Battery Pack for just $3.95 shipped. (They will not last long at that price.) This compact 1,560mAh battery has a built-in microUSB cable for topping off your phone and a built-in USB cable for recharging itself (via wall plug, laptop USB, etc.). It even comes with an extension cable and caribiner. Stocking-stuffer win!