If you’ve ever used your PC to do anything even remotely productive, chances are you’ve used Microsoft Office. The Microsoft productivity suite has always been the most popular suite of programs built to help you write documents, draw up spreadsheets, prepare presentations, and more. Microsoft Office is an institution.
As with most other established institutions, however, the Microsoft Office suite comes with a hefty price tag. The reliability that you get from an established productivity suite comes at a premium. If you balk at the idea of paying out for your productivity programs, then you’ll be glad to know that it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s go through some of the best alternatives to Microsoft Office that you can use for free.
Microsoft Office alternatives for free
Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides
Google’s own productivity suite, linked to Google Drive, hasn’t been around as long as the Microsoft offering. It has, however, quickly gained a strong reputation for reliability and ease of use across multiple devices. Docs is a cloud-based suite of apps that uses the powers of modern web browsers to do all the heavy lifting. Although the programs are all online-first pieces of software they can all be made available for offline use too, so that you don’t have to worry about being connected to the internet before you start work.
You do need an account but once you have a Google account, which will give you access to Gmail and Google Drive’s cloud storage you’ll also then be free to use the Google Docs suite as you wish. Although many IT departments still rely heavily on the likes of Microsoft Word and Excel, Google Docs and Google Sheets offer amazing real-time collaborative capabilities making them perfect for team-based projects. This means Google Docs is the best free alternative to Microsoft Office for teams and IT managers should look into the enterprise level G Suite offering of the service.
SoftMaker Free Office
Free Office is the original free alternative to MS Office. The program has been around since 1987 and not only looks very similar to the Microsoft productivity suite, thanks to a recent update, it is also fully compatible with all Microsoft office files like DOCX and XLSX as well as many other file formats.
As the name suggests, Free Office is completely free to use, although you will have to register an account with the developer SoftMaker before you’ll receive your download link. It is available across multiple operating systems for Windows, Mac, and Linux users.
We recommend Free Office as the best free Microsoft Office alternative for anybody who is already used to Microsoft Office but no longer wants to pay for it.
Microsoft Office Online
Another great option for former Microsoft Office users looking to take the strain off their wallets is Microsoft’s new online versions of the major Office programs. All are free to use. Microsoft Office Online gives access to cloud-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and more. Although not as fully featured as the apps associated with an Office 365 subscription, this is still a great online office suite. It should be more than enough for most casual users who simply want a way to edit documents.
Office Online can be used across multiple operating systems using different web browsers like Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome. It can run with files stored locally on your PC as well as those stored on your Microsoft OneDrive. You will, however, need a Microsoft account before you can use Office Online.
Libre Office has been around in its current form since 2010 when it split from Free Office and has never failed to impress. Stemming from The Document Foundation, Libre Office is free and open-source software meaning it is worked on by a global community of collaborating developers.
With Libre Office, you’ll find comparable programs to Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and more. You’ll also be able to run Libre Office on Microsoft Windows devices as well as Apple devices running Mac OS. Libre Office works on Linux machines too. There is also a Libre Office app for viewing your PDF files on Android devices and a plethora of add-ons to play around with too.
The only real downside associated with Libre Office is regarding compatibility with Libre files often experiencing formatting irregularities when viewed and edited in other programs.
Open Office by The Apache Software Foundation is another Microsoft Office alternative you can get for free that has a long history behind it. Open Office first appeared over 20 years ago and ever since, Apache has been updating, tweaking, and refining it. It is a great free office suite, offers strong alternatives to all of the core Microsoft Office programs, and can be installed on Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
Apache Open Office is similar to Libre Office in that it is open-source software, but it also shares Libre Office’s compatibility issues. Both use the open-source Open Document Format, which means you’ll be able to open versions of your Open Office documents on other programs but you might experience a few inconsistencies with the fonts and formatting.
If you’ve owned an Amazon Kindle Fire or a Toshiba, Sony, or Alcatel device you might already be familiar with OfficeSuite by MobiSystems. All those devices come with OfficeSuite pre-installed. If you’ve never owned one of those devices before, and you’re looking for a free alternative to Microsoft Office or free word processing capabilities, it might be worth your time familiarizing yourself with what OfficeSuite has to offer.
OfficeSuite comes in a number of payment tiers with the basic offering being the free version, which gives access to a number of features. These include the ability to view and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents as well as being able to view PDF files. Admittedly, this is a very basic offering indeed, but it does meet the needs of many users and it’ll also give access to sharing platforms like Dropbox and iCloud. The main issue, however, is that basic users will be pushed heavily into taking out a paid subscription that will allow them to use OfficeSuite across their desktop, tablet, and smartphone.
We’ve been through quite a few free Microsoft Office alternatives for you to consider. As we’ve already pointed out we think that using Google’s online programs, like the word processor Docs and spreadsheet builder Sheets, offers the best experience for teams.
For anybody already used to the Microsoft Office layout, we’d recommend Free Office as developer SoftMaker has worked hard to make the experience as similar to that offered by Microsoft Office as is possible.
If you’re new to the game, however, and you’re looking for your first productivity suite, we’d recommend Libre Office. You can install it on your device for free and as well as offering reliable alternatives to the Microsoft Office programs, it also offers added apps like Math and Draw.