Office alternative

This office suite does what the others do for less.

Crystal Office is one of a number of full-featured office software suites to challenge Microsoft's industry-leading Office at a much lower price. It integrates five primary tools: NotePro, a word processor; DayMate, a planning tool; CellPro, a spreadsheet application; ChartPro, a project manager; and Clip Plus, a Windows Clipboard enhancement. Crystal Office can open, edit, and save Word and other Office documents, a critical compatibility.

An installation wizard gives you the option to make Crystal Office the default application for a number of file types and to choose which tools to install. Each application sports a fully customizable Windows-style interface with file menus and icon-based toolbars typical of each category of software; they project a welcome familiarity that quickly brought us up to speed. We opened and tried each tool, beginning with NotePro. We saved a file as a Word document and opened it in Word with no problems, all content intact and able to be edited. CellPro works much like Excel and proved compatible with existing Excel files. DayMate is laid out much like a desk calendar, another familiar, efficient choice. The Clip Plus feature is the only thing that's really different about Crystal Office; clicking its system tray icon calls up an enhanced clipboard box as well as a larger dialog for settings, including the interesting Groups feature that lets you group similar items together for quick selection.

Crystal Office is a viable alternative to expensive software suites like Office, but it's a fraction of the cost. It's well worth a look.

Editors' note: This is a review of the full version of Crystal Office 1.25. The trial version is limited to 30 days.
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