Still Using Microsoft Office? Stop Now, Here’s Why…

Category: Software

Since the Dark Ages of personal computing, Microsoft Office has been the standard for home, school, and office productivity suites. But it's always been a rather expensive software package. Today's prices range from $249 for Office Home & Business, up to $439 for Microsoft Office Professional. The subscription-based Microsoft 365 Family product costs $100/year. Fortunately, there are plenty of good, compatible (even free) alternatives to Microsoft's word processor, spreadsheet, and related office tools. Here are some of the best free and low-cost office suites to replace Microsoft Office...

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

Former heavyweight boxer George Foreman did commercials for Meineke Mufflers in the 1990s, and famously said "I'm NOT gonna pay a lot for this muffler!" Maybe I should make a Youtube video and spread the word 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...

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. Unfortunately, part of that domination is obfuscation. The truth is, Microsoft doesn't want you to buy Office Home & Business, or Office Professional. They want you to "rent" the same software, in the form of a Microsoft 365 subscription. That means you're paying for your Word, Excel, and Powerpoint software monthly or annually, continually, endlessly, and perpetually.

If that doesn't strike you as a great deal, you're not alone. Tens of millions of consumers have found that free alternatives to Microsoft's office products work just fine for them.

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.

Free Office Suites

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. LibreOffice is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Android and iOS versions of LibreOffice are available from Collabora, a LibreOffice certified developer and ecosystem member. There are about 200 million active LibreOffice users worldwide; about 10% are Linux users.

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 XLSX, 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.

Both LibreOffice and OpenOffice have been downloaded hundreds of millions of times over the past 20 or so years. And both are "open source" projects, which means the software code is public and available for anyone to view. And because they are "open", it's much less likely that they will contain any malware or privacy issues.

WPS Office was formerly known as Kingsoft Office. The "All-in-One Office Suite for 2022" 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, Mac, Linux, and Apple iOS. The free (ad supported) WPS Standard includes Writer, Spreadsheet, Presentation, PDF Editor, and is compatible with 47 common document formats. WPS Pro ($36/year) eliminates ads, offers cloud collaboration, PDF editing, and can be used on up to 9 devices.

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 is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. With SoftMaker Office, you can switch at any time between modern ribbons and the classic user interface with menus. The full version of SoftMaker NX Home costs $29.90; a 30-day trial version can be downloaded free of charge. The paid versions of SoftMaker NX Universal and SoftMaker Office Pro mention "excellent German spell and grammar checking with Duden Korrektor."

And for those who still remember the days when Microsoft Word and WordPerfect were battling for supremacy, I'll mention the Corel's WordPerfect Office Standard suite which includes the WordPerfect word processor. But with a price tag of $249, 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. Trial and paid versions are available for Windows, Linux and mobile devices.

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.

One final factor to consider is Privacy. Have you heard the saying “You are the product?” So many companies are more interested in your data than extracting a one-time fee for the use of their software or service. When it comes to privacy, with Microsoft and other “closed source”office software vendors, you have to take their word for it, that they’re not “sharing” your data with third parties, or using it for their own advertising purposes.

At least with an open source product, you have some assurance that there’s no such funny business going on. That’s why I switched to Libre Office years ago. Aside from the price tag (free), and the privacy concerns (none), I much prefer the user interface over the confusing “ribbon” style used in Microsoft Office.

What about you? Will you stop using Microsoft Office, and switch to one of these alternative office suites to get things done? Have you already moved away from Microsoft to a free or open source option? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…

 
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This article was posted by on 27 Jun 2024


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Most recent comments on "Still Using Microsoft Office? Stop Now, Here’s Why…"

(See all 37 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Ducklady
28 Jun 2024

I'm using MS Office 2021. I've tried Libre Office (nee Open Office, I believe) several times and never like it. I'm a writer and Word is still the standard for submissions. As a former newsletter editor I understand why. The Open/Libre Office documents were a mess and required a lot of work when opened in Word.

Eventually I suppose I'll have to suck it up and go with the subscription model, but I've simply never found anything that works as well for me as Word.

I did like Word Perfect quite a lot. I notice people mentioning it in the comments. It's no longer available, is it?


Posted by:

PattyM
28 Jun 2024

I'm willing to give up MS Office and use an alternate. However, I use Outlook and have emails organized into folders. What substitute is there for Outlook?


Posted by:

Sandy Jewell
29 Jun 2024

I have used both Libre and OpenOffice for years. Recently most contacts are saying that they can't open my word doc attachments. I have had to change to Microsoft Office. No choice.


Posted by:

GazzaO
29 Jun 2024

I have been recently using OnlyOffice Personal. It is free for personal use and seems to have great features. Any comments?


Posted by:

Mark
29 Jun 2024

I have OpenOffice on my older computer, and it works, except using Writer I have to be careful how I save documents that I'm attaching to an e-mail-that is, change from .odt to .doc. The advantage of an Office 365 subscription for me is the integration with cloud storage via OneDrive, which came in handy when I bought a new computer. I don't have a problem paying Bill a reasonable amount considering the work he did creating good products like Microsoft and Office.


Posted by:

Mark
29 Jun 2024

I have OpenOffice on my older computer, and it works, except using Writer I have to be careful how I save documents that I'm attaching to an e-mail-that is, change from .odt to .doc. The advantage of an Office 365 subscription for me is the integration with cloud storage via OneDrive, which came in handy when I bought a new computer. I don't have a problem paying Bill a reasonable amount considering the work he did creating good products like Microsoft and Office.


Posted by:

Rad
29 Jun 2024

I use Office 2019 9rather than using one of the free versions simply because I like Outlook (not the new version that Microsoft gives us for free). None of the free Word Processing Software gives us an Email client and I haven't found (yet) a decent email client out there except for Outlook. Yes, I've tried several and none have the features I want in a client. My wife has two google accounts, I have google accounts, a Hotmail account, and a GMX account and most free versions don't like all those accounts on the same client. And the new Outlook? Ads ... I do not like them and I'd guess that Microsoft also sells email addresses


Posted by:

Rad
29 Jun 2024

I use Office 2019 9rather than using one of the free versions simply because I like Outlook (not the new version that Microsoft gives us for free). None of the free Word Processing Software gives us an Email client and I haven't found (yet) a decent email client out there except for Outlook. Yes, I've tried several and none have the features I want in a client. My wife has two google accounts, I have google accounts, a Hotmail account, and a GMX account and most free versions don't like all those accounts on the same client. And the new Outlook? Ads ... I do not like them and I'd guess that Microsoft also sells email addresses


Posted by:

Rad
29 Jun 2024

I use Office 2019 9rather than using one of the free versions simply because I like Outlook (not the new version that Microsoft gives us for free). None of the free Word Processing Software gives us an Email client and I haven't found (yet) a decent email client out there except for Outlook. Yes, I've tried several and none have the features I want in a client. My wife has two google accounts, I have google accounts, a Hotmail account, and a GMX account and most free versions don't like all those accounts on the same client. And the new Outlook? Ads ... I do not like them and I'd guess that Microsoft also sells email addresses


Posted by:

Rad
29 Jun 2024

I use Office 2019 9rather than using one of the free versions simply because I like Outlook (not the new version that Microsoft gives us for free). None of the free Word Processing Software gives us an Email client and I haven't found (yet) a decent email client out there except for Outlook. Yes, I've tried several and none have the features I want in a client. My wife has two google accounts, I have google accounts, a Hotmail account, and a GMX account and most free versions don't like all those accounts on the same client. And the new Outlook? Ads ... I do not like them and I'd guess that Microsoft also sells email addresses


Posted by:

Wolf
29 Jun 2024

I have been using LibreOffice for a long time and am very satisfied and impressed with its capabilities. [At my job, I use the Microsoft Office suite sometimes and Google Docs a lot, and they serve me adequately for my needs.] I do appreciate that it can open up many different file formats. In the past, I used Microsoft's ACCESS database system; however, more recently, I have written Python scripts, which allow me to process data, and that works nicely. I am intrigued by some of the other alternatives that Bob mentions, and the information is very informative. Thank you, Bob, for presenting valuable options!


Posted by:

ChasH
29 Jun 2024

Had been using MS Office 2016 till a month ago when I switched to LibreOffice after I continually got notices that my version was not going to be supported in a few months. I had toyed with Open Office a few years ago. I don’t do Google. Am getting used to the tools that I normally use being in different locations and it has a little different look but it gets the job done so I’m happy and not putting out the money for something that I use infrequently.


Posted by:

Cary
29 Jun 2024

Although I have LibreOffice on my pc, what I use most of the time is Essential Office. It offers the basic tools (word processing, spreadsheet and draw), loads quickly, and has all the common functions (performs them quite well) and it is portable. Being retired my requirements are rather simple and Essential Office meets my needs 95% of the time.


Posted by:

Frank Drakmann
29 Jun 2024

I just consider the $69/yr for Office 365 a cost of doing business. It's negligible for my budget - and MS Office (now Office 365) is the gold standard. So that's what I've been using for years. Always will unless something drastically changes.


Posted by:

Hugh Gautier
30 Jun 2024

I noticed that you didn't say anything about making labels, not the mail merge labels, but individual sheets of the same label. I know for a fact that Libra Office doesn't give the user that opportunity. It is one reason I went back to Office 365. But, whereas Microsoft has from the get-go. Yes, I also started with Word Perfect back in the 1990s along with Lotus 123.
No, I do not use the "cloud" to store my documents, that is one thing that I DON'T Trust. Eric Snowdon proved that by doing so under the watchful eyes of those who have "Cloud" services. But when asked why I do not use "Cloud" services I gave a little bit of feedback and they found that they could not get to my 11.4 TB of USB on a switchable hub for those drives. They are not online all of the time, just when I have a need for their use I'll turn the specific drive on and make my backup or save a specific file. When I've finished using those external drives they are removed and stored in my floor safe. So getting to those files is nearly impossible.
Oh, I've had the military trying to get into my computer, but they gave up after finding out that my military career had been in code security and MI Code Security, I'm a bad boy but I also watch what is being done then do something like using a Cyrillic character in a password, My best password is 37 characters in length. Bitwarden had a tough time with it especially since they were expecting a 16-character password.
For that matter, I could use Hebrew or Greek words in my passwords and really mix things up. Those were the two foreign languages for my Theology degree that I'd gotten back in the mid-1960s. I'm a mixed bag because the Master's degree was in an entirely different direction in Industrial Computers, Robotics, and Electronics Engineering in 1996. The break between degrees was for the military service Navy then the Army, and recalled 6.5 years later back to the Navy. All in all I have 28 years military service. Retired CWO3, in 2003.


Posted by:

Chuck Feinstein
30 Jun 2024

I use Ashampoo Office 9 which currently retails for $50.00 USD and is full featured and completely comparable to MS Office. The previous version, Office 8 is $20.00 and there is a full featured (older but very usable) Free version as well. I have purchased several of their products and am pleased with them. No, I do not work for Ashampoo, just a happy customer. https://www.ashampoo.com/en-us


Posted by:

pshaw
30 Jun 2024

No-one mentions Thunderbird. Have used it for years; far superior to Outlook IMHO.


Posted by:

MG
02 Jul 2024

Not sure about the "scareline", that current users need to *stop* using MS Office. For anyone with a currently licensed copy, I don't see a compelling argument presented that we need to stop using our software.
And, for those of us who use Word's macros, I haven't found a free alternative that allows users to create and use their own (I'd welcome finding out about any).


Posted by:

Omar S.
02 Jul 2024

Okay, here's your choice:

1. Microsoft office $399.99. Remember, this product is blessed by Bill Gates himself with his magic holy water that he personally spritzes on it. (Yeah, he retired from MS and doesn't work there any more but likes to stay involved.)
or
2. LibreOffice which is free and does everything 99% of everyone needs.


Posted by:

john
03 Jul 2024

I am glad to see that Bob is finally coming around. Now that we got him off Office, maybe Windows will be next.


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