The Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office

Is there a Free Microsoft Office Alternative?

This may be old news for some, but apparently not everyone has made the switch from Microsoft Office, as you will soon find out.

A few years ago, when I bought a new laptop, I was contemplating whether or not I should pony up the cash for Microsoft Office again. After a little research into ‘free microsoft office alternatives’, I was able to find a few. Those who make the switch will prosper.

Cost of Microsoft Office

A recent scan of Microsoft’s website yielded two common version of Microsoft Office 365 for home:

  • Microsoft Office 365 Home: up to 5 users
  • Microsoft Office 365 Personal: 1 user

Microsoft office alternativesMicrosoft has really moved over to the paid subscription model with their products now. This could be a lucrative move for them, given that you used to be able to go years without buying an Office update.

Libre Office – The Free Microsoft Office Alternative

Libre Office is the leading open source software suite. Libre Office offers just about everything that Microsoft Office does and more. And it ‘excels’ in doing so (ah snap!). And it is super fast.

If you didn’t know any better, there are often times when it’s easy to forget that you’re using a Libre Office application versus the Microsoft alternative. And don’t worry about compatibility, as Libre Office files are easily converted to their Microsoft counterparts. Here’s what Libre Office has to offer:

Libre Office Calc – the Free Microsoft Excel Alternative

Offering up just about everything that Excel does, Libre Office Calc also allows files to be saved as .odf (open document format) – the international standard for spreadsheet file formats.

Libre Office Writer – the Free Microsoft Word Alternative

I don’t miss anything in Writer that was in Microsoft Word. Writer offers wizards to do faxes, minutes, resumes, letters, agendas, and more.

Libre Office Impress – the Free Microsoft Power Point Alternative

With 2D and 3D clip art, downloadable templates, animation, and special effects, it’s hard to see how this presentation software is any bit of a downgrade from Microsoft Power Point.

Libre Office Add-Ons

In addition to the MS Office basics, Libre Office has a few other treats in store in the form of extensions and other programs, such as:

  • Libre Office Draw – So feature rich that I’m much more inclined to compare the features in draw to Adobe’s Photoshop than Microsoft Paint. It even offers the ability to create flash files.
  • Libre Office Base – A desktop database management system. Never used it, to be honest.
  • Libre Office Math – You are able to create all kinds of math equations in this software and use them in Calc and Impress.

What About Google Drive?

Google offers its own software suite, Google Drive, fully supported by cloud storage, so all of your documents can be accessed anywhere and from any computer at any time. Whereas comparing Libre Office to Microsoft Office is like comparing apples to apples, comparing Google Doc applications to Libre Office or MS Office is like comparing apples to oranges.

The depth of Google’s applications is not as extensive as the other two, however, they do tend to be sufficient for most uses, they are easily shared with other collaborators for multiple user editing, and they are saved on the cloud (where they should be). It is now also ridiculously easy to upload MS Office and Libre Office files into Google Doc format, and export Google Docs the other way as well.

Conclusion: I Will Never Purchase Office Software Again

Between Google Docs and Libre Office, I see no reason to pay for Microsoft Office again. Software is moving towards freeware and cloud computing and Microsoft has not kept pace. I can’t come up with a legitimate reason why you should keep paying the money for MS Office.

Office Software Discussion:

  • Have you not made the switch from MS Office to Libre Office and/or Google Docs yet? Why not?
  • What clever uses of Libre Office and Google Docs have you come up with?
  • When is the last time you bought Microsoft Office software?

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