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Get a $70 Office Suite for Free

Kingsoft Office 2012Tired of paying a small fortune for Microsoft Office licenses? Then today’s your lucky day.

Daily-freebie site Giveaway of the Day is offering Kingsoft Office Suite Professional 2012 absolutely free. It normally sells for $69.95.

Never heard of Kingsoft Office Suite? Me, neither. But based on my morning’s worth of experience with the program, I can tell you that it closely resembles Microsoft Office 2010–except that it incorporates a tabbed document view, a killer feature that even Microsoft Office 2010 lacks. (Actually, upon installation, Kingsoft gives you a choice of interface styles: Classic, which looks more like Office 2003, or 2012, which mimics Microsoft’s ribbon interface. Thankfully, you can switch between them later on if desired.)

Kingsoft Writer, Spreadsheets, and Presentation aim to take the place of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and do so effectively by offering full file-compatibility with Office documents (including .doc and .docx, .xls and .xlsx, and so on).

In other words, you can open documents created in Microsoft’s suite, and you can save newly created documents in Microsoft-compatible formats. That said, don’t be surprised if the Kingsoft suite trips on the occasional Word or Excel file, as noted in CNET’s review of Kingsoft Office 2012.

Even with that issue, the suite received a 4.5-star rating, meaning it’s more than suitable for your everyday word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet needs. And, hey, did I mention it’s free?

Actually, it’s free only if you download and install it today, which is the condition for any Giveaway of the Day deal. But that’s the one and only catch; you don’t have to sign up for anything, register for anything, or provide a credit card.

If you miss out on the deal, don’t sweat it: Kingsoft also offers a free version of Office Suite 2012. It’s nearly as full-featured as the Pro version, lacking only a handful of advanced features like VBA and macro support, presentation templates, and a cover-letter generator.

And don’t forget: there are several other free Microsoft Office alternatives, most notably OpenOffice and LibreOffice. But neither of those programs comes anywhere close to matching Kingsoft Office’s “2012″ interface, which I found surprisingly good.

If nothing else, Kingsoft is worth a try, if only to experience the joy of scoring a $70 software package for $0. After you’ve taken it for a test-drive, hit the comments and let me know what you think. And if there’s another freebie office suite you like better, I’d love to hear about that, too!