Though Microsoft Office is the juggernaut of office productivity and the industry standard in terms of integrated applications, spreadsheets, word processing, presentations, email, and database management, it’s not the best choice for every home and business user.
Some people feel that the $70 annual cost for a single user home license or the $8.25 monthly cost per employee for businesses is too high. Others just want stronger desktop publishing features and better collaboration than Microsoft Office offers hence the need for Office alternatives.
Whatever the reason, know that the recent software development has given rise to a slew of feature-rich office suites that falls outside Microsoft banner but offers similar functionality and even goes beyond the basic editing. Most of all, some of these Microsoft alternatives are available in free and open source office productivity applications. Open source office productivity tools have nurtured the art of perfection in recent years, so choosing free software over the expensive proprietary program does not mean that you compromise on quality.
You will also find that most of these open source Microsoft Office alternatives support some of the common file types including Microsoft’s file formats. Most of these tools also provide more storage options, database tools, and drawing applications. If you wish to retire Microsoft Office, we’ve evaluated the best Microsoft Office alternatives for you, so you can rock with the most powerful alternatives in the market.
Best Microsoft Office Alternatives in the Market
WPS Office 2016 (recommended)
Billed as the ‘World’s most advanced free office suite for Windows PC’, WPS office 2016 has what it takes to be the perfect alternative to Microsoft Office. This ingenious program also runs on Mac OS and Linux operating system and its dynamics allows it to run even on a tablet. WPS office comes with some unique features that you won’t even find in Microsoft Office. For instance, it comes with an ‘eye protection’ mode that turns the background green to keep off prying eyes and also allow users to change the color and style of the UI.
WPS office also comes with tabbed documents, something that you won’t also find in Microsoft Office. It enables users to easily read and import files while allowing them to write new ones without any problem. It has a ribbon that looks better than the one you see in the Microsoft office, and if you don’t like the Ribbon, you can change the interface in just a single click.
WPS Office has a free version that lets you do everything well but you will see some adds when performing advanced functions such as PDF exporting or Mail Merge. However, you can avoid this by subscribing to the paid version at $45 per user per year or $80 for a lifetime license.
FreeOffice software from Softmaker is a feature-rich office suite that provides a powerful and free version of the company’s most robust commercial suite. The program includes Textmaker, Planmaker, and Presentations as alternatives for Microsoft’s big three and each comes with functionalities that equals, if not better that Microsoft’s Office suite.
Moreover, the program showcases the fastest loading times and a great user interface that sports a streamlined design, corresponding icons and a familiar palette of resources. FreeOffice 2016 offers an easy to use interface and as a free program, it beats other free programs as well as some of the other paid programs.
Talking of compatibility, FreeOffice features innate compatibility with other programs proprietary document formats – even better than Microsoft Office suite. The latest version showcases the SoftMaker’s finesse in productivity tools, integrating tools for creating PDF documents, spelling check, and tracking document changes.
The 2016 version of FreeOffice offers a ton of graphic support while incorporating smart typing and more export and import options. SoftMaker is renowned for keeping its products up to date and their 2016 version is the exemplar of how an excellent office suite should look like.
Open Office remains one of the oldest open source alternatives to Microsoft Office. The productivity offering from Apache has received a very warm welcome from users over the past 15 years. Open Office comes with 6 programs based on the same engine, so all are very easy to navigate. Tools include Writer (for Word Processing), Calc (for spreadsheets), Base (Database Manipulations), Draw (Graphics), Math (Equations), and Impress (for presentations). Because it’s an open source software, OpenOffice has an active community that works to add to the software.
OpenOffice stores all your data in an international open standard format and performs other advanced functions like cell-dependent calculations, spelling check and also supports Microsoft Word documents. The developer, Apache continues to add new features to achieve a competitive edge while providing a friendly interface suitable for all. Recent additions include interactive crop utilities and annotation capabilities. The company is also giving users a greater level of control by adding instructional wizards while also working to increase file compatibility with a host of basic tools and laudable extensions.
LibreOffice is a free desktop-based service that split from OpenOffice, meaning the underlying source code is the same. The software has however assumed a more modern interface and major improvements that make it look different from Apache OpenOffice.
LibreOffice boasts of the same 6 office applications as Apache OpenOffice , i.e. Writer, Math, Calc, Base, Draw, and Impress—but the two programs differ in terms of usability and community support. LibreOffice is deemed to be more developed than OpenOffice. For instance, you will find features like Wiki publisher, presentation minimizer and PDF import that are absent in the OpenOffice.
Moreover, with LibreOffice, users can use extensions and templates to expand functionality. The program has a long list of powerful and well-managed extensions that allow users to customize it to suit their individual needs. The 5th generation of the software (LibreOffice 5) features a speed boost, more presentation transitions, simplified menus, VBA macro streams, and an added support for Apple Keynote 6. The latest version supports Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.
Google Apps for work is one of the best Office alternatives since it offers syncing capabilities and real-time collaboration that beats Microsoft at its own game. If you are editing a document with other people who have remote access, you would love to see every word they type as soon as they hit the keys, a feature that Microsoft offers only to a few Office 2016 subscribers. Google docs offer this capability to all users for free, not to forget the autosave feature. As long as you are online, your changes are completely saved to the cloud. Google docs also offer you a complete revision history, so you will never lose your work.
Google Apps does a great job importing DOCX and other files and converting them into documents inside apps. Complex PowePoint files will perhaps need to be tweaked but the majority of your files should make the jump without any problem. However, Google Sheets app is behind excel and other competitors. The spreadsheets will handle arithmetic functions well but anything more than that might be a different story. Google Apps are free for individuals but the cost for companies vary from $5 to $10 per month per user.
There you have it. There is no denying that Microsoft Office is the go-to choice for many users. But after using one of these programs, you will find out that you can get the same quality services from the best Office alternatives, plus bonus services that you might not get from Microsoft. Best of all, you can forget the hefty per-user licensing fees that add to your budget every year. We hope that the programs listed above will provide you with the best Office alternatives so you can keep the cost at bay while working on your Windows 10 PC.