Not necessarily. It's hard to ignore MS Office, but you don't need to blow 400 bucks to get your work done. In fact, you don't need to install any programs at all. Sign up for the free Google Docs (documents.google.com) or Zoho (zoho.com), and you can do everything in a Web browser. The programs look similar to Word, Excel and PowerPoint and offer all the same features (save for a few lesser-used ones like certain spreadsheet formulas). Zoho even kicks in a few extra applets like a Wiki-building tool. Best of all, these applications let you access your files from any computer that's online.
If you don't have reliable Internet access or are more comfortable installing programs on your computer, there's no shortage of competition, either.
The programs in Corel's WordPerfect Office suite ($300; corel.com) can also open and save documents in MS Office format. There are free open-source suites as well, such as openoffice.org and the Mac-only neooffice.org. Besides their lower cost, most of these programs have other small advantages too, like saving docs in PDF format without installing extra software—a feature still not available on Office 2007 for Windows. Just one more thing to think about before handing your money over to Microsoft.
If you have a friend in the military they could buy you a "gift" MS Office 2007 Standard package for 79.00 tax free.
i didn't know zoho, glad to find it.
college software discounts for the win =)
Insted, just get OpenOffice. It has all of the features of Microsoft Office, but free and has a ton of avaible plug-ins.
go to: http://www.openoffice.org/index.html
It's free, it can read and write MS Office formats to a large extent. Unless you're a power MSO user, OO has everything you need.
Open Office FTW
i go with open office, it came with my installation (Ubuntu) and its less resource hungry than microsoft office.