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Computer Notebook — Look at WordPad!
Nearly everyone for whom I provide a computer insists on having Microsoft Office installed. We simply do not have enough licenses to make this possible. As an alternative, we have been installing OpenOffice.org, an open source office suite which contains word and spreadsheet software compatible with Microsoft Office. "Compatible" means that files created on one can be opened in the other. This program may have somewhat different menus and functions, but if you just look around a bit you can do nearly everything you can with Office.
I would also like to recommend that you take a look at another word processor that comes as a part of Windows, WordPad. This is a much smaller program than Word, will load faster and probably not crash nearly so often, and will do nearly everything I see most students doing. It is much simpler to learn and to find your way around, and would probably be much more comfortable for the younger students. When they begin to require more advanced functions, then they can move up to Word without difficulty.
WordPad is in the Accessories menu (Start>Programs>Accessories>WordPad), but it can easily be copied to the desktop for quick access. If you do not know how to do this, get someone to show you! Please, however, do not "move" the shortcut, "copy" it instead. This will leave the original shortcut where it may always be found, even if someone accidently drags the desktop icon into the Recycle Bin!
Take a look at WordPad, it is much quicker than Word for most short notes and reports, and has a surprising number of functions. I think you might like it!