Stop Using Microsoft Office - Here's Why...

Category: Software

Since the Dark Ages, 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 alternatives to Microsoft's word processor, spreadsheet tools and related office tools. Many are free, and even those that are not cost much less than Microsoft Office. 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.

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 Premium ($30/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.

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 option? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…

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Most recent comments on "Stop Using Microsoft Office - Here's Why..."

(See all 42 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Brian B
14 Oct 2022

@ Louise. For a long time I hung on to Quicken even though I couldn't find an alternative to do the same job. I was getting more and more upset with the $100 plus yearly subscription so the search went on year after year. Then eureka, I found the perfect replacement (for me anyway) Jio Money Manager. A slightly different user interface, but does everything Quicken does. If you are familiar with Quicken you will find the program is intuitive to use, and virtually no learning curve.

Posted by:

14 Oct 2022

I have been a heavy user of both Microsoft Office Word and WordPerfect for years. I like WordPerfect much better. If bidding a job and needing to estimate time to do a writing task, generally it takes me 25% to 30% more time to do the same job in Microsoft Word. WordPerfect is just that much more efficient. And, the number of features, bells and whistles, places WordPerfect much closer to a desktop publisher than Word -- another software purchase savings and time savings. But that is just me.

Posted by:

Eli Marcus
15 Oct 2022

I have been using Softmaker Office for at least 10 years, for two main reasons - they have a free version (Freemaker) and they are fully Linux compatible. In the years that I still had to work with Windows and MS Office at work, I discovered that when I occasionally took home files from Word and Excel, they were fully supported in the Softmaker Office, and I could edit and save without causing any ripples or corrupted files. Lately, I have been paying for an annual subscription for the Softmaker NX version for Linux, and use it at home and in the office (all on Linux platform).
Softmaker offers their free version for download every December, when they promise to donate to a hunger charity for each copy that is downloaded - I think that is a great idea! I also use Softmaker on my Android phone and tablet devices.

Posted by:

Ernest N. Wilcox Jr.
15 Oct 2022

Back when I took a few courses at the local community college, I got a copy of Office 2010 (then the current version) along with my book bundle (it was required for one of my classes). I used it through my school days, but when I was no longer a student, I felt that I should stop using it. When I saw what it cost to get Office Home and Small Business, I immediately switched to LibreOffice and (as stated by others above) I have never looked back.

If someone released a standalone word processor, I'd probably try it out, but since LibreOffice is free, any alternative would have to be very good to sway me away (regardless its cost).



Posted by:

15 Oct 2022

I have used Apache Open Office for many years and I have never had any trouble saving output to DOCx format. You just do "Save As" and specify the type of file you want to save. Easy and straightforward.

Posted by:

15 Oct 2022

Other than Gmail, what are you using as an alternative to Outlook?

Posted by:

15 Oct 2022

Arguing on the basis of cost is a distraction from priorities with a very short term focus - if currency is your religion buy gold and value whats important

Posted by:

Mike in Colorado
15 Oct 2022

I've used a few of the alternatives and have set them up for customers but I use Microsoft 365 for my family. Not so much for the Office suite, but because of OneDrive, OneNote, and being able to have a custom domain for an email address. I have a Terabyte of online storage for my personal files and my wife, daughter, and son each have their OneDrive for the same price. I could add on two more Microsoft accounts because they allow up to six users who can install the Office suite on up to five devices each. I think it's a bargain.
And no, I'm not a millie, zoomer, or gen x. I'm a Boomer! :D

Posted by:

15 Oct 2022

I inherited a legal copy of MS Office 2007 when my then wife passed away. I didn't see the point of paying for upgrades for a suite I rarely used, so since Win10 I have used Libre Office exclusively - although Office 2007 is still installed on my old Win7 laptop. Libre Office has more bundled modules than MS Office, is more capable than Office in many respects - albeit lacking in some others - but suits me for everything I need.
I love the philosophy of Open Source, and the teams maintaining Libre Office do it to build a better mousetrap - not make bigger profits. Quite honestly, unless there's some specific built-in aspect of MS-Office that no other suite has, I simply cannot see the point of paying MS's price for what to me is an inferior product.

Posted by:

15 Oct 2022

I love my Libre Office. I'm not in business, just use it in a home setting. It does everything I need and more. Easy to use and understand. I do, however donate a modest amount to them every year because they work hard on a great product and deserve compensation.

Posted by:

15 Oct 2022

Libre Office for about 16 years. Does it all and is free!

Posted by:

15 Oct 2022

Here's the problem- I have a few highly technical engineering spread sheet progs that were written in Excel...they will not work with any alternatives due to macros conflict. I'd rather not divulge my Office sourcing,but it sure isn't paying M$'s ridiculous fees.

Posted by:

Graham Skeats
15 Oct 2022

Bob - remember that a 365 family subscription allows 6 family members to use office on up to 5 machines each and that all 6 people get a terabyte of cloud storage that can make the average user's backup continuous and effortless and suddenly £80 a year seems like pretty good value.

Posted by:

Donald Ames
15 Oct 2022

I subscribe to MS Office 360, not so much for the Word and Excel which I use a lot, but for the OneDrive cloud storage. I placed all ov my documents and pictures on OneDrive and am able to view, upload, download, and edit them from my other devices. If a change is made it automatically synchronizes it agan on the cloud. Is there a lower cost alternative to OneDrive, that works this well in the background?

Posted by:

15 Oct 2022

Bob - For someone like myself, who would not need Powerpoint or Excel in a zillion years, but needs to write an occasional document, is there any sort of "Word Lite" software available?

Posted by:

Dennis English
15 Oct 2022

I bought OfficePro2010 when it became available, and I'm still using it. I mainly use Word, Publisher, Excel, Outlook, and Access. Seldom use Powerpoint or the other tools. When the time comes that I cannot use 2010 I will switch to LibreOffice for sure.

Posted by:

Charlie Kirk
15 Oct 2022

I have used (and preferred) WordPerfect for at least 30 years. Currently, WP standard (no database) is available for $99. The great advantage of WP is the reveal codes feature which allows corrections or modifications of texts which I find impossible with Word or Libre Office.
If anyone knows how to correct/modify text with Word or Libre Office like WordPerfect's reveal codes, I'd welcome the information.

Posted by:

David Lobbezoo
16 Oct 2022

I'd be happy to dump Office but when it's integrated in the practice management software you use and the practice management software doesn't integrate with any other Office type software there's not much you can do.

Posted by:

20 Oct 2022

I was required to use Word when preparing documents for many clients or working with many associates. So I have it. And Access was also necessary. But I have been using Word Perfect since the 80s and still prefer it.

Posted by:

16 Feb 2023

Beware of Softmaker. It's uninstall process leaves the registry littered with references to its software. Any other office software you'd like to try will fail to open any thing in your Documents folder.

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