[FREE] Alternatives to Microsoft Office

Category: Software

Microsoft Office is the gold standard for business productivity suites. But it can cost a lot of gold; even today's low street prices range from $119 for the 2013 Professional version to $399 for the 2016 Pro version. Fortunately, there are plenty of good alternatives to Microsoft Office; many are free, and even those that are not cost much less than Office. Here are some of the best alternative office suites...

I'm Not Gonna Pay a Lot For This Word Processor!

The word processor and spreadsheet are two of the most commonly used tools on any computer. Microsoft's Office suite has Word and Excel to fill those roles, and they dominate the landscape. The downside, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph of this article, is cost. The good news is that you don't need to buy an expensive office suite. Let's look at some of the best free and low-cost alternatives to Microsoft Office...

LibreOffice is a complete office suite, which includes free (and in some cases, superior) replacements for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher and Access. You can use LibreOffice Writer as your word processor, LibreOffice Calc for spreadsheets, LibreOffice Impress to create multimedia presentations, and LibreOffice Base to create and manage databases. The Charts module lets you create all manner of charts, and the Math module offers a powerful formula engine with a graphical user interface.

LibreOffice is available for WIndows, Mac OS X, and Linux. In most cases, LibreOffice can import and export Microsoft Office file formats with very little trouble. This comparison of the two office suites lists the differences in features and compatibility.

Free Office Suites

If you have heard about Apache OpenOffice, you may be wondering how it differs from LibreOffice. Most users will have difficulty finding differences between the two, as LibreOffice is a "fork" of the original OpenOffice project. Perhaps the most significant edge that LibreOffice has over OpenOffice is the ability to embed fonts in documents, thereby assuring that a document will look the same even if it’s displayed on a computer that lacks the fonts used by the document creator.

WPS Office was formerly known as Kingsoft Office. It now comes in free and paid subscription versions. WPS claims to be “the world’s most popular mobile office suite for Android,” and there are also mobile or desktop versions for Windows, Linux, and Apple iOS.

More Options for Desktop, Mobile and Cloud

Softmaker Office 2016 does writing, calculating, presenting, e-mail, tasks and appointments. It claims to be fully compatible with Microsoft Office documents, and comes with the Thunderbird email client. The full Windows version costs $89.95; a 30-day trial version can be downloaded free of charge. Also, older versions from 2006 and 2008 can be downloaded for free; they are still supported with addons and service packs. Linux and Android versions are available.

And for those who still remember the days when Microsoft Word and WordPerfect were battling for supremacy, I'll mention the Corel Office suite which includes the WordPerfect word processor. Corel Office saves documents in PDF format and makes sharing via email or Dropbox one-click simple. Formerly $199, it's now just $50. A 30-day trial version is available for Windows users.

Cloud computing has given us “office suites on demand” -- software that resides on vendors’ servers and is maintained by them. Users no longer have to worry about downloading, installing, or keeping software updated with security and bug-fixing patches. The latest version is always automatically available, and operates within your favorite web browser.

Google Docs is the best-known free example of the cloud-based office suite. It does word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets, storing documents on Google Drive. It can be used on mobile devices running Android or iOS. Although it’s widely used, Google Docs is not as user-friendly as some other office suites, and lacks some of the advanced features of Office.

Zoho started as an online office suite, but has morphed into a sales and customer relations management suite. The word processing component is considerably easier to use than Google Docs; in fact, Docs offers Zoho as an alternative or addon in some of its applications. Trial and paid versions are available for Windows, iOS, Blackberry, and Linux.

Whether you need just a basic word processor or a complete business CRM system, there are alternatives to Microsoft productivity suites. Try the ones that seem to fit your needs. Even if you have to pay for your favorite, the price will be much lower than Microsoft Office.

Do you use Microsoft Office, or one of these alternative office suites to get things done? Do you work in an office that has moved away from Microsoft to a free option? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "[FREE] Alternatives to Microsoft Office"

(See all 34 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Dave Ruedeman
16 Aug 2016

I used to use star-office,open-office,libre-office.
I got sore at them for not support engineering notation, a fix that took them YEARS to implement, so I switched to MS Office. (LibreOffice supports engineering notation now). However, I got used to the ribbon interface and would find it difficult to go back. Despite that I will use LO on my Linux system for simple tasks.

Posted by:

16 Aug 2016

Open/LibreOffice can save in MS format - I've never had a problem opening/correctly displaying a document in MS that had been saved in such a way. Perhaps there are indeed applications where this is a problem, but I find it difficult to believe that this is the case for the casual user.

Posted by:

Ed Aweeka
16 Aug 2016

Has anyone tried this one, if so what do you think?

SSuite Office Software


Posted by:

Mike Higgins
16 Aug 2016

In assisting others with their computer problems/setups, I have encouraged LibreOffice and set it up to save docs in Microsoft formats; however, I have kept my old MS Office suite myself, for two reasons...The others will not automatically move a decimal over two places (spreadsheets), and I have downloaded OfficeTabs so I can have multiple docs open in tabs instead of separate windows. If one of the freebies will perform these two functions, please let me know!

Posted by:

16 Aug 2016

Excellent suggestions. Doesn't work for those of us who edit freelance. Customers demand Word for several good reasons - such as the publisher using only Word. Until all systems can work together alternatives aren't viable. Too bad competing companies can't develop agreed upon standards.

Posted by:

Earl McNeil
17 Aug 2016

Will LibreOffice convert Corel Office and Microsoft Office word and spread sheets?

Posted by:

Peter Hanish
17 Aug 2016

I have been using Apache OpenOffice for about 2 years now. I mostly use the word processing & spreadsheet components. My computer has Windows 10 with the anniversary update. I really like it although there is a learning curve required, as I had previously used Microsoft Office.

Posted by:

17 Aug 2016

I mostly do word processing using MS Word. I tried most all of the others, but always came back to MS Word.
I do use Google Doc writing my online journal, but nothing large that might get lost in the clouds...

Posted by:

Sandy Papavasiliou
17 Aug 2016

What about Kingsoft? I have been using it for years and recommend it to heaps of others.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As I mentioned, Kingsoft is now called WPS.

Posted by:

17 Aug 2016

I think John Silberman is right. MS, in order to keep their dominant position, need to make it difficult to exchange files with users of competing software.

Anyone who uses MS Office 'because everyone else does' is playing into M$'s hands (as well as paying into M$'s pockets).

Posted by:

17 Aug 2016

Agree with not giving MS**t any more money.
1) I have frequently had to install W10 for people and then sort it out to make it usable. Dire. So staying with W7, and practising Linux for the future.
2) Have gone back to using Office 2003 (when I have to) instead of Office 2010, as it is so unusable (not just the *** ribbon), and the later versions get worse, as other people have noticed.
3. But LibreOffice does nearly all of what I need including excellent conversion both ways of spreadsheets and docs. Only real drawback is that it is slow to load. (I did not have any probs with Impress, either.)
4. Kingsoft / WPP are good, but Free version has a) watermark problem and b) desire to constantly contact their website, as bad as MS**t, so have chucked them.

Posted by:

17 Aug 2016

I just want to put in a good word for Corel's WordPerfect word processor. Having used both WP and Word - WordPerfect is superior in so many ways - especially the intuitive interface and ease of use.

Also I find copying and pasting WP text into a text document (email) an absolute breeze - with no formatting problems. Same is true for archiving text on a web page for future reference.

I only use Word when necessary - otherwise WordPerfect is my first choice!

Posted by:

Pat Smart
17 Aug 2016

I have been a MO user longer than I care to remember😉 I changed to a Mac 5 yrs ago & have used MO for Mac 2011 since then. This includes Outlook mail. I have tried multiple email programs but have not been satisfied with them, including Thunderbird. Outlook 2011 has developed many problems that MS can't seem to fix, so I have been resigned to shelling out for 365. Do any other if these free (or lower cost) alternatives to MO Work on a Mac & have a good compatible email program? I use MO Profession with Outlook for work so want my home program to work with it.

Posted by:

18 Aug 2016

One organization I work for (that has people literally scattered all over the globe) has started using Google Docs as a primary suite. The cloud storage and ability to let scattered users access the documents, spreadsheets, etc from just about anywhere at anytime is a boon for collaborative work. Yes it can be a pain to work with at times and for advanced users may not suffice, but for general use it's been good.

For most of my own more "serious" work Libre Office has filled the bill quite nicely without presenting me a large bill to buy it...


Posted by:

Robert Dawes
20 Aug 2016

I was using Excel to edit entries to a database program and when using SAVE AS to dbf format Excel would truncate entries in text fields. Doing the same thing with LibreOffice Calc produced perfect results and Calc allows more records (rows) than Excel so I've converted.

Posted by:

Bob Penn
22 Aug 2016

I have to say that I fully agree with the comment by Karena, on Aug 16.

Posted by:

Michael Bermingham
22 Aug 2016

Is there a good free alternative to Outlook 2016?

Posted by:

Monte Crooks
23 Aug 2016

I've exclusively used LibreOffice for a number of years. I find it reads and saves Office documents better than Office, especially spreadsheets! All my business documents are Libre and the best aspect of LO is how just about the time I think of an improvement, a new version comes out from Open Office with that very improvement. Even my legal docs are written in Libre, complete with all necessary notations. Thank you, Open people with a better MS than MS!

Posted by:

28 Aug 2016

At work I've always used Microsoft Office products, starting from 2003 to 2010, and at home I've simply used the same but including the 2013 (Office 365) version.

I've tried Open Office at home, and still have a few files stored in that format which I easily access through my current version of Microsoft Office. I also tried Mozilla Thunderbird for email but found it lacking compared to Microsoft Office.

Fully agree that Google Docs is nice but lacks many functions and features of a decent Office suite.

Posted by:

06 Sep 2016

I downloaded the "free" WPS program, but reading the license, I saw "30 day trial." I don't want to face this same problem 30 days from now. Can anyone speak to this?

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