See These Free Microsoft Office Alternatives

Category: Software

For decades, Microsoft Office has been the gold standard for business productivity suites. But it can cost a lot of gold. Today's prices range from $249 for Office Home & Business, up to $439 for Office Professional 2019. The subscription-based Office 365 Home product costs $100/year. Fortunately, there are plenty of good alternatives to Microsoft Office; many are free, and even those that are not cost much less than Microsoft 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. LibreOffice has the edge when it comes to saving files in Microsoft proprietary formats such as DOCX and XLXS, and also has 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 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. With SoftMaker Office, you can switch at any time between modern ribbons and the classic user interface with menus. The full version for Windows, Mac or Linux costs $69.95; a 30-day trial version can be downloaded free of charge. An Android version is also available.

And for those who still remember the days when Microsoft Word and WordPerfect were battling for supremacy, I'll mention the Corel WordPerfect Office X9 suite which includes the WordPerfect word processor. But with a price tag of $219, and so many good alternatives, it just doesn't make sense to me.

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. Google Docs lacks some of the advanced features of Microsoft Office, but for the majority of users, it handles everyday text processing just fine. One advantage of Docs is the ability to share documents online and collaborate with others who have permission to view or update.

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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This article was posted by on 6 Jun 2019

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Most recent comments on "See These Free Microsoft Office Alternatives"

(See all 26 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Paul S
06 Jun 2019

LibreOffice user since I retired. Only problem I've had with MS documents or spreadsheets from others is when macros are part of the items. Lots of differences there.

Posted by:

06 Jun 2019

Libre Office for me. The only problem is that publishers seem to only want submissions in Word. My back-up of all my work is in Libre, and if I could, it's the only one I'd use. I'm a real fan!

Posted by:

Karl Gregg
06 Jun 2019

You did not mention the Microsoft FREE online version of Office in the Microsoft store. It has all essential parts of office and uses OneDrive to store any documents you create. Search 'free online office' in the MS store to get started.

Posted by:

Jay R
06 Jun 2019

I have been using Open Office for years. I haven't figured out how to rearrange entire lines on a spreadsheet, but then I haven't tried too hard. I am very pleased with this, both from a price and functionality standpoint. As always, I am very grateful to Bob for what he does.

Posted by:

06 Jun 2019

If you don't need much in the way of word processing, and I don't, WordPad will do nicely.

I still have the Easy Office spreadsheet program. However, my main spreadsheet program is ProCalc running on an Amiga, but in this case, an Amiga emulator. I just can't be bothered to set up all my spreadsheets on anything else. It works just fine for my requirements as an individual.

Posted by:

06 Jun 2019

Softmaker also has a free version of its Office suite. It's not quite as feature rich as the paid version, but unless you're a power user, it's more than enough.

Posted by:

06 Jun 2019

LibreOffice all the way for me. I have it on ALL my Windows and Linux computers. It does everything I want and could do a lot more that I just don't know enough to properly use. I do use Google Docs on my Chromebook and often "check" it on other computers. I had OpenOffice in the past and found it very good. For some reason unknown even to myself, I also have WPS, Softmaker, and still others scattered about on various computers. Maybe as backups? You tell me.

Posted by:

06 Jun 2019

Our computer club has successfully installed over 50 copies of Microsoft Office Pro 2016 & 2019 that we purchased for under $10 from Ebay vendors.

Yeah, I know that is just a big scam (supposedly). But being selective, one can find valid downloads with valid product keys that work. We have proven it time and time again. We have yet to get stumble into the "scam".

Posted by:

06 Jun 2019

I once taught and used Multimate, Word and Word Perfect and in the 80-90s, the latter was my pick because it did things easier than Word. Since then Word has improved and taken over thanks to the spread and wealth of MS.

Posted by:

06 Jun 2019

hmm - lots of youngsters here. My first word processor was Wang - took a trained operator to input documents. With the first PC running DOS we started using Volkswriter, followed shortly by word (the precursor of MS word). I'm happy now with "free" versions of Libre (I have occasionally donated)

Posted by:

06 Jun 2019

I have been using SoftMaker Office for about a year now and I am very pleased with this program. I have been using Thunderbird for about 5 years now, for my email.

I like SoftMaker Office FREE version very much. It is similar to MS Office but more like an older version of MS Office. Am I a Power User??? Heavens NO! I am an average user, one that needs a Word Processor to write letters and I still don't know how to use the Spreadsheet, but it is available for those that do know how to use it.

Yes, I share my Desktop computer with those who live in my household. I also share my new Epson Printer, that I dearly love. I needed to get a new one, when my 6 year old Brother Printer finally died. I also got a great deal on the Epson. It is the previous model of the new line and has all of the bells and whistles for a measley $99, FREE Shipping! This puppy holds 500 sheets of paper, does long sheets as well, Two-sided printing and has both USB and Wi-Fi connection.

Now, I do recommend SoftMaker Office for those like me, who only need to have an Office program for occasional needs. Oh, SoftMaker also has a PDF program that seems to work well. I see PDFs all the time online and that program is doing just fine. Acrobat Reader is just getting ridiculous with the continual updating.

Posted by:

07 Jun 2019

I used ot use Open Office until Oracle got involved, then I switched to Libre Office, which is now my suite of choice. I also have MS Office 2007 (properly licensed - my late wife was a little suspicious of free 'equivalents'). It does everything it purports to - but Libre Office does a LOT more. It can handle more file formats (both Save and Load) than MS, comes with a more comprehensive suite of modules, has a much more intuitive interface, and is available on more platforms - and although the developers would like a small contribution, it is still totally FREE.
Why anyone would pay Microsoft's extortionate fees when something better is available for nothing is beyond me.

Posted by:

D.V.N. Sarma
07 Jun 2019

There were also Amipro and its successor Wordpro which have disappeared along with win95 and win98.

Posted by:

07 Jun 2019

I very much appreciate the valuable information that you share continually. I have been using Office 2007 for as long as I can get away with it, and was dreading having to cough up Microsoft's high and monopolistic prices for any of their replacement offers, since I only use the word processing part of it. Now I have alternatives!

Posted by:

07 Jun 2019

For Jim and anyone else: in case it wasn't clear, OpenOffice and LibreOffice (at least - I don't know about the others) can not only open, but also *save* files in MS formats.

Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
07 Jun 2019

I have been using Open Office for many years before the "split.". I have Libre Office, but I usually forget to use it. I rarely do anything more than word processing anyway except for tax season when I use the spreadsheet.

Posted by:

Jillian S
08 Jun 2019

I appreciate hearing from those who've been using something else like Libre Office (which I'd never heard of before). I've been hanging onto my Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 until the last possible minute--not out of love, but from a desire not to have to learn anything new. Jim pointed out that publishers and others may demand documents in Office. What does one do then?

Posted by:

08 Jun 2019

Jillian: One saves them in Office format.

Posted by:

10 Jun 2019

Regarding a previous post: I used MultiMate & Word Perfect for years, as well as MS Word. I loved Word Perfect, it was miles better than Multimate & MS Word, However, it was too slow to have a graphics-based interface & Microsoft just couldn't be stopped. I still use MS Word 2013, as it does everything I want it to but will definitely lok as the alternatives mentioned in the article.

Posted by:

04 Oct 2019

Short changing WordPerfect again? To counter your price slam - WP is available for much less from many sources. Ebay usually has the best prices, sometimes as low as $25 for the legit suite. Earlier version may be cheaper and still highly functional. I use it EVERY day and have since the 90s.
If you want, it will even change its menus to look like and work like Word, even disabling some of its features as needed. Even if you don't know Word, get WP. It has a best of breed grammar checker built in.
Beyond that, it has writer tools built in including dynamic outlining, TOC, footnotes, chapters, all the Word tools and a very helpful PROMPT box that suggests alternate words or phrases. Since it's compatible with Word and every wp I know of (it reads and writes > 60 formats even back to Wordstar) you don't need anything else. It's also fast and low cost.

Best prices are for student versions (depending on which you get, that can be equal to the Pro version). It has supported PDF in/output since at least ver12. If you want epub output (not necessary if using d2d, for free conversion and extra support-FREE), get ver x6 or newer. The latest is x9.
For best prices, get an older version (x4 at least) thru Ebay - not Amazon. You'll get the suite with spreadsheet and presentations at least. Some version come with Paradox DB and student tools as well as 1000s of clipart and photos. Tutorials on use and projects (book writing) are on YouTube and the Corel site.

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