Microsoft Office has long been the go-to productivity software for documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and a host of other needs for over twenty years. What originally started as a disk set software package has grown to a cloud-based subscription software suite known as Microsoft 365, containing a series of apps such as Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, and more on computer or mobile.
Lately, there have been a series of new competitors attempting to steal Microsoft's thunder. With more competition comes competitively-priced licensing options and even other robust suites for free. Particularly with the free and low-cost services, these powerful options do not always sacrifice quality.
One problem with multiple platforms is document sharing. When choosing an alternative to Microsoft Office, the user needs to ensure that the people sharing documents are all using the same office suite. One solution to this is the use of Microsoft Office 365 Managed Services cross-device collaboration. Office 365 allows mobility and synchronization between PC and mobile devices, enabling end-users continuity in their work when using the Microsoft Office platform.
When looking at Microsoft Office alternatives, many formidable programs have the most functionality as Office and can manage sharing files with other platforms. Despite this benefit, none have the overall versatility of Microsoft 365, especially when bundled with OneDrive and Microsoft Teams.
Here is our roundup of alternatives and a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Our first alternative is WPS Office. WPS Office is a solid alternative to Microsoft Office at no cost to the user.
The WPS Office suite includes WPS Office Writer, beneficial PDF applications, Spreadsheets, Presentations, and even 1 GB of cloud storage added at no additional cost. However, it is far short of what other bundles such as MS Office and Google offer, even with all of this.
The interface is user-friendly, although it will take some getting used to familiar with Microsoft Office. WPS Office is almost like a combination of G-Suite and Microsoft Office combined. However, the tabbed interface allows you to drop in between the different applications in the same interface.
WPS Office is also available on PC, MAC, Android, iOS, and Linux and is a reasonable 148MB download to install, or you can choose to use the web-based version without having to bother.
In the 1980s, WordPerfect was the number one word processing program used with DOS and Microsoft Windows until Microsoft released their own Microsoft Office package. Corel purchased WordPerfect in 1996 to compete with Adobe and Microsoft as personal computing gained popularity.
Today, WordPerfect is a solid all-in-one office suite. The latest version has spreadsheets, word processing, slideshows and now includes photo-editing and management. The current WordPerfect suite starts at $59.99 for the home and student versions, and they offer a free trial of the Office Standard version on their website.
WordPerfect supports a variety of formats, including DOCX, HTML and PDF, and the default WPD. The PDF function allows reading and editing documents as well as editing current documents. Also, WordPerfect allows multiple documents to be opened at once and even includes processes for ebook creation and macro-management.
Overall, WordPerfect is an excellent program with a solid history of staying competitive. However, the cost of business-level software is just not in line with what many alternatives offer at this price point.
Apache Open Office
Next up is another free Microsoft Office alternative that offers powerful options at a great price point, nothing!
Originally billed as "Open Office," this software was popular with students as a comparable free alternative to Microsoft Office. Included in the suite is Writer, Calc (An alternative to Excel), Impress (PowerPoint), Base (Access), and has apps for drawing and math. In short, it is a close alternative to Office Pro without the price point.
It takes up a little over 130MB to download the entire package and offers various language options. Apache Office is a strong alternative out of the many Microsoft Office alternatives even though it lacks the Microsoft Office 365 package sophistication.
Google Docs and G-Suite is another powerful alternative to Office 365. Google Docs comes with any Gmail account, which is accessible to the few that do not already have one, and it includes a whopping 15GB of Google drive space!
With Google Docs, you get their version of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, and for MS Access, Google offers Google Cloud Bigtable at an additional cost. For plenty of small and medium-sized companies, G Suite is all they need.
That said, there are downsides to Google Docs. The folder and file management systems are complicated. Even regular users can routinely misplace folders. Another potential downside is to upgrade more storage, business email, increased collaboration tools, and security. You will need to upgrade to G-suite, which can get costly with teams and lacks Office 365 Managed Services' overall support.
LibreOffice is another free alternative on the market, very similar to Open Office, and is a trendy alternative to Office 365.
Included in the LibreOffice suite are Writer, Calc, Impress (Their version of PowerPoint), Base (Access), and drawing and math applications.
One key benefit to LibreOffice is the availability of an Android app, using smartphone productivity.
OnlyOffice is available in 22 languages and includes top companies such as Suzuki and Oracle as users.
OnlyOffice is an open-source office suite with a paid version for those who need more. The free edition is just fine for many small businesses but is limited to 20 connections.
In addition to the typical word processing and spreadsheet applications, but is also suitable for sales and fulfillment management. Teams can collaborate and edit documents with ease, and there is a helpful calendar function to manage project deadlines and schedules.
Zoho Office is another free alternative to MS Office, offering Writer, Sheet, Notebook (similar to Evernote), and Show (PowerPoint). The main downside is it is the suite is only available online like Google Docs.
One substantial benefit to Zoho Office is built-in Two-Factor authentication and their top-of-the-line encryption and backup offer. If security is a primary concern of yours, Zoho Office may be the choice for you.
FreeOffice has a full suite of products for home and office that is fully compatible with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
FreeOffice supports all significant extensions such as DOCX, PPTX, XLSX, and even some older extensions such as XLS and PPT. FreeOffice has a recently updated interface similar to Microsoft Office, making it an easy transition for former MS Office users and even includes an Android version.
One significant benefit to FreeOffice is its touchscreen-ready interface for tablet users as well as touch screen computers.
Initially released in October of 2000, Calligra Office is a KDE project as a package designed to be graphic designer-friendly.
Calligra is yet another free and open-source software suite that you can download from the KDE website. However, Calligra also offers several paid features such as project management and mind-mapping for an additional cost.
One potential downside to Calligra is the interface. Unlike MS Office or any other office suite, Calligra has most features on a tab along the screen's right-hand side instead of the top, which can take some getting used to using.
Another downside to Calligra is that while you can read DOCX and DOX formats, there is no ability to edit them. If others on your team are using Microsoft Office documents, they will have to convert them to ODT or another format to edit them in Microsoft Office.
OfficeSuite is an application developed by MobiSystems and offers the benefit of coming pre-installed on most Sony, Amazon, Toshiba, and Alcatel products and is available on Android, iOS, and Windows.
OfficeSuite has many tiers from which to choose. There is a basic free version that allows you to view and edit most Microsoft Office documents and is fully compatible with formats such as ODT, RTF, CSV, ZIP, and DOC, in addition to a PDF viewer. One benefit to the free version is cloud-supported services with many popular storage services such as Google Drive, One Drive, and Dropbox.
OfficeSuite also offers 'Personal' and 'Group' paid tiers that include advanced PDF features and multiple users access at the group level.
Finally, we have Polaris Office. One of the newer office productivity suites on the market was released in March 2014.
Polaris Office offers both free and paid versions, with the paid version starting at $6.99 per month.
Polaris's latest version allows you to convert and edit PDF documents and several file formats such as PPT, XLS, DOCX, and HWP and can convert voice and image files to documents. Polaris's major drawback is that the free version is ad-supported, which can be very annoying at times.
Why Office 365 Managed Services is still the top choice
Even with increased competition, Microsoft Office continues to grow in popularity with businesses of all sizes due to its long history of quality performance, overall ROI for the number of applications, support, and user-friendly UI.
Some of the top features of Office 365 include:
- Cloud OneDrive: With Office 365, users have access to email, documents, calendars, and more on any device or browser they are using, allowing collaboration from almost any location. Also, having your data secure on the cloud keeps your documents safe even if you lose your hardware or have problems getting to your office.
- Password storage: Users can save their password in their system tray in Windows to avoid signing in multiple times.
- Seamless integration: With Windows being the dominant OS on the market, Office 365 integrates with Windows devices.
- Support: Microsoft Office 365 Managed Services offers a fantastic selection of support, including an uptime guarantee, robust security, privacy controls, and IT admin phone and chat support when needed.
- No-hassle licensing: Microsoft Office 365 upgrades all systems simultaneously, ensuring all users are using the same up-to-date software.
- Superior collaboration: With documents stored on OneDrive, team collaboration on Word, Excel, and other documents are easily shareable and include regular automatic saves that different users get in real-time. There is also a simple way of reverting to older versions to get rid of mistakes made.
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To learn more about how Microsoft Office 365 Managed Services can benefit you, contact SSI today.