Best Office 2003 Professional Software

I am still in two minds about whether to buy a laptop or a desktop computer. I use my PC about three to five hours each day, as I run my small business from home. Also, could you advise whether I should buy an external hard drive for all of my data or wait until I buy a new PC and use the free Laplink option to transfer everything? Finally, could you advise the best office suite for my needs?

I use the Word, Excel, Outlook and Publisher functions mostly. Tina If you bought your current PC in then it has done well to last this long, though you may be surprised how slow it is compared to a modern machine. Budget for your next PC to run until early , when Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7. I assume your current PC is a desktop, in which case, I'd recommend another desktop. There are three reasons for this. First, you will be able to use a bigger screen, which means you will be more productive.

Mainstream laptops like the HP ProBook have With a desktop PC, you could buy a in screen with a resolution of x pixels. This will show twice as much information. You will be able to see many more rows and columns in Excel, and more lines of text in Word, or use the space to show two programs at once. For movie buffs, it means a leap from standard HD high definition or p video to Full HD or p video. Of course, you can buy laptops with high-resolution screens, and with bigger screens.

However, it's still better to have more physical screen area. Second, a desktop PC has better ergonomics and is much better for your health than using a laptop.

I wrote about this in detail last year in How can I use laptops and tablets without suffering from physical pains? You can put a laptop on a riser and use it with a separate monitor and a more ergonomic keyboard. However, this increases the cost, and means you won't recover all the space used by your current desktop. Third, desktop PCs are better value than laptops. The problem with computing is that faster always means hotter, but laptops are cramped for space and hard to cool.

Laptop manufacturers therefore tend to fit processors that don't use much power, because they generate less heat, and batteries last longer. Desktops can use processors that run much hotter because they're much easier to cool. Even small tower systems also have more room for expansion — extra memory and hard drives etc — and they are much easier to repair.

Hardware choice As you have noticed, I've answered several questions about choosing Windows hardware recently and — sorry — left many more emails unanswered , so I won't go through it again.

If you decide to go for a desktop PC, there are plenty of good options from Dell, HP, and Lenovo, who are the main suppliers in the business market. It runs Windows 8 instead of Windows 7, but you can set it to boot straight to the desktop for a more XP-like experience. Also, Microsoft has made numerous changes with Windows 8. If you're open minded, you can easily learn to use Windows 8. Having said that, it's a much smaller jump from Windows XP to Windows 7 than it is to Windows 8, and Windows 7 is what I recommend to business users, as distinct from consumers.

If you want a Windows 7 machine, then shop in the business sections of the HP and Dell websites, or try a local supplier such as Chillblast. Business versions of Windows come with "downgrade rights" so you can buy Windows 8 Pro but have Windows 7 installed. This also means you upgrade to Windows 8 later: Not all the adverts are specific about the processor, so check that it has a 2.

Of course, if speed is important, you could buy the Lenovo Hs with a faster Core i or Core i instead. Backups and files If you don't have a backup copy of the data on your Windows XP machine, then you should buy an external hard drive as soon as possible. You could save a bit by buying a smaller drive, but you will run out of space quicker. If you are moving settings and data files to Windows 7 not Windows 8, then the free Windows Easy Transfer will do the job. Windows Easy Transfer will use your external hard drive as a staging post.

Which Microsoft Office? The good news about your copy of Office is that you can uninstall it from your XP machine then use the discs to install it on your new PC. The bad news is that Microsoft discontinued support for Office along with Windows XP, so it will not get any more security patches.

You could continue to use it, but it means taking a risk that is not advisable in a real business setting. However, to qualify, you must be a member of staff or a student at a recognised school, college or university. To validate your copy of Office online, you would need either a working academic email address eg one ending in ac. If you work closely with a local school or college, then one of them might give you a code.

If not, then you will probably need to buy a retail copy. Microsoft Home and Student is the cheapest version of Office, but it is not valid for business use, and doesn't include either Outlook or Microsoft Publisher. Microsoft Office Home and Business is next cheapest, and includes Outlook but not Microsoft Publisher, which you could buy separately.

The other options are Microsoft Office Professional — seven programs, including Publisher and Access — or an Office subscription. You cannot use it on both a desktop PC and a laptop, and you cannot transfer it to a new PC.

In general, I prefer to buy disc-based packages, but there aren't any for the latest version: Office It includes the ability to run the programs from your own hard drive, or to use fully functional online versions.

The catch is that that it's an annual subscription. Microsoft also offers free online copies of some Office programs in the OneDrive cloud service that comes with Microsoft Outlook or Hotmail email addresses. These are aimed at consumers and do not have all the functionality of the desktop and Office versions, but they are good enough for many users, and better than Google Docs.

Again, Microsoft Publisher is not included. If you have time to spare, you could also try a version of the free, open source LibreOffice along with Scribus as a replacement for Microsoft Publisher.

LibreOffice is semi-compatible with Microsoft Office files, and if you don't produce complex documents with embedded pictures and footnotes, or use features like Track Changes, it might be good enough. However, I can't really recommend it in a business setting where you are exchanging files with other Microsoft Office users.

Over five years or so, the time wasted dealing with incompatibilities would probably be enough to pay for Office several times over. This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set.

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