For a great number of years, Microsoft Office has been the de facto standard for office productivity software. If you wanted to type up a document, you’d use Microsoft Word. If you needed to produce a spreadsheet with charts, Excel was only way to go. Indeed, PowerPoint is widely recognized as the Kleenex of presentations. But did you know that free Microsoft Office alternatives exist that are just as good, if not even better?
If you are a small business owner, entrepreneur, or independent contractor and you don’t want to pay for the full Office suite from Microsoft, there are options that won’t cost you a dime, while retaining practically all the functionality you need to remit TPS reports with the best of them.
The Spanish word “libre” literally translates to “free” in English. And that’s exactly what you get with LibreOffice from The Document Foundation, a not-for-profit organization. The core of this free and open source office suite is based on the original OpenOffice.org. There are a total of five tools included here: Writer for word processing, Calc for spreadsheets, Impress for presentations, Draw for vector graphics, Base for databases and Math for formula editing. It’s all free and is designed to help you “do more, easily [and] quickly.”
Once supported and offered by Oracle and now falling under the umbrella of Apache, OpenOffice is also based on the original OpenOffice.org and offers just about the same functionality too. This free and open productivity suite is just as comprehensive with programs for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. A handy advantage here is that it is also available in a myriad of languages.
Local software requires local installation and the local storage of files. What if you want a cloud-based solution that’s arguably even more robust? Google Docs is a remarkably popular option and for good reason. It integrates seamlessly into other Google solutions, like Google Drive, providing real-time collaboration with team members and more. Style and format your text the way you’d like. Add images, drawings and links too. It’s all free and it’s all saved in the cloud for anywhere access.
Perhaps known better for its many cloud computing solutions, Zoho also lets you “bring your office” to Zoho Docs. In many ways, this is not only one of the best Microsoft Office alternatives, but it is also a very viable alternative to Google Docs too. That’s because all your business files can be saved in the cloud, allowing team members to collaborate with one another no matter where they are in the world. You start with 5GB of free storage and the files are suitably synched across devices. Using Writer, you can even export and publish your work directly to WordPress.
WPS Office for Windows
Calling itself the “perfect free office software,” WPS Office 2016 Free is a comprehensive productivity office suite that largely mirrors the “ribbon” interface of Microsoft’s offering. Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheets are your alternatives to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. WPS Office also includes PDF tools, as well a range of free templates for more creative documents, plus a drag and drop tool for more intuitive paragraph layout adjustments. Switching between documents is easier too with a tabbed interface not unlike a web browser.
Available for Windows and Linux, FreeOffice 2016 by SoftMaker is a “complete office suite” that is suitable for individuals and businesses alike. Just like the other Microsoft Office alternatives on this list, you’ll find corresponding software here to replace Word as your word processor, Excel as your spreadsheet application, and PowerPoint as your presentation program. All the files here are still compatible with their Microsoft counterparts, so you can still share and collaborate with colleagues and partners who use Microsoft. The accompanying Android app lets you take your documents on the go too.
Microsoft Office Online
It may sound counterintuitive that one of the best alternatives to Microsoft Office comes from Microsoft, but it’s absolutely true. The appropriately named Office Online is available anywhere you have a desktop browser. This means you can theoretically use on a tablet or smartphone, but sticking to a laptop or desktop is probably preferable. This includes online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, all of which will save your files to OneDrive. The user interface will be familiar and it’s easy to transition to the traditional Office suite should you choose to do so in the future.
Image credit: WOCinTech Chat / Flickr