In this episode, we will look at Microsoft Office alternatives.  The suite of applications can run up to over one thousand dollars which are not in the budget of many of us.  However, there is almost no need to ever pay that amount for your office suite needs and here are some excellent alternatives.

Office Online

The full products can be purchased via a monthly subscription instead of that upfront cost.  This approach is not only less drain on your budget; it includes so many features that this is by far the best approach to using the MS suite.  This subscription contains online versions of the applications.  However, I do not recommend using those other than for reading documents.  The installed versions of the apps are faster and more reliable.

Google Docs

Of course, Google wants to get into this game as well.  What business does not need to use the applications in your typical Office suite.  This solution is focused on a cloud solution and provides excellent collaboration tools.  It does not have the finishing features and extensive fonts or layouts that Word and Pages have, but it is cheap and easy to use.

Office Libre

This is currently the best non-commercial solution for office alternatives.  It has an intuitive interface, is not overly slow and large in the file space used, and includes robust tools for the typical usages of spreadsheets, word processing, and presentations.

WPS Office

This option is the current incarnation of the old Word Perfect application.  It has modernized along the way and has paid or free versions.  It is a nice tool, but dwindling in popularity so compatibility with other users may be an issue for you.

Apple iWork

This solution is available online at iCloud but is one I only recommend for Mac users with the included desktop applications.  I am a bit biased as a Mac user towards this option.  Nevertheless, I have to say I find the publishing of documents goes better with pages and keynote than Word and PowerPoint.  If you are doing nicely formatted documents, but do not need a professional quality production, then either option will do.  The iWork suite is free with any Mac and is a pleasurable experience as most things Mac are.  The downside is that compatibility with other office suites is one of the most significant weaknesses of this option.  Thus, you may need to use another solution that plays well with others depending on your situation.

Calligra Office

This open source solution is aimed at Linux desktops.  The compatibility with other suites is not where I would like it to be.  However, it is open source and an elegant solution for Linux users.  This is one of those tools you should consider if you are considering a Linux Desktop environment.

Open Office

Open Office has been moved into the Apache project.  It is a reliable alternative with excellent compatibility across other formats and an intuitive interface.  This was my suite of choice for years until Libre advanced in speed and compatibility.  It is still one of the best solutions available and is widely used including on some Linux environments.

Dropbox paper

This is a new contender in the collaboration space.  It is an alternative to Google Docs and offers the same merging of word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets.  Thus, you can even place videos and audio as well as images into your document.  It is more like a web page than traditional print or document creation.  Nevertheless, although it has an impressive set of features, it is still new enough that scalability and reliability may be a concern.


Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences.In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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