What software do you need?

Software is what makes the computer useful. There are three types: the operating system, applications, and what I call middle-ware.

The operating system is what runs the whole computer, in this case Windows. The applications are the programs you use to do real work. Applications like your browser, your email program, document preparation, spread sheets, picture editing, music playing, and antivirus protection. Middle-ware is a bunch of programs that your application programs use that you will never start because by themselves, they do nothing useful. Their authors will try to get in your face, but you really don’t want to know about them unless they are not there or do not work right. Some examples: Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Java.

You should have an application program that will allow you to open, create, and edit documents. Some of you will use spread sheets, and a very few of you will actually create presentations. The Microsoft offering is called Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). Office comes in various configurations for widely varying prices.

Do NOT buy Office from the computer manufacturer. It will not save you money.  If you buy at retail, you will be able to re-install it in a different computer when you replace yours or if you must replace the hard drive or re-install the operating system.  Computer manufacturer installed Office is not portable or re-installable.

There are several alternative programs that can be found at lower or no cost. Most people only ever display PowerPoint presentations and you can get a free viewer from Microsoft.