Still Using Microsoft Office… Why?
For many decades, Microsoft Office has been the gold standard for 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 Microsoft 365 Family product costs $100/year. Fortunately, there are plenty of good, compatible 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!
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!" 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...
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 2019. They want you to "rent" the same software as a Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) subscription. That means you're paying for your word processor and spreadsheet software monthly or annually, forever, 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.
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.
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.
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 $29.90; a 30-day trial version can be downloaded free of charge.
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 $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.
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…
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 22 Oct 2020
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Still Using Microsoft Office… Why? (Posted: 22 Oct 2020)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved