There is no dispute when it comes to just what word processor and spreadsheet applications people prefer on their computer, that is Microsoft Word and Excel. Once upon a time you would just buy a copy and keep using it forever, but in more recent years Microsoft has been pushing to get everyone on their subscription model. The main advantage of the subscription model is you typically get all the Office suite applications along with their very latest iterations and new features. Another advantage is a decent Onedrive cloud drive at 1TB of storage. However, with these subscriptions you are paying for feature overload and most users, in particular a home and small office user, often you don’t come close to using these features and you may never require them.
What are the options if you want a free or low cost alternative to Microsoft Office paid versions?
- Microsoft Office Online Free. You read correctly, you can get most of the common features for Word, Excel, Powerpoint and more for free. The catch, you can only access online through a web browser, there is some but minimal advertising and you only get 5GB of free storage. Still, most people can make this work, 5GB is a huge amount of storage for storing all your documents, excel spreadsheets and more. The advertising actually isn’t too in your face or distracting and doesn’t interfere with your work. Feature wise pretty much all the tools you would want are there. Install the OneDrive app on your computer, put all your docs there and head off the office.live.com and you can edit away. Create new documents and they’ll sync back to your computer and show up in your OneDrive folder. Very neat. The interface is familiar to those using the newer versions of Office and even similar to older packages.
- OnlyOffice desktop editor. For a non-Microsoft solution head to https://www.onlyoffice.com/desktop.aspx . OnlyOffice provides their Desktop version of their equivalent Word, Excel, Powerpoint for free, not catches, no advertising or snooping on you once you’ve installed. Sure, its not MS Office, but it is full featured, has an interface that’s similar and familiar in comparison to Word, Excel, Powerpoint and can open and save with full compatibility with the aforementioned file types. This is a top pick if you want an installed and non-browser based solution.
- Google G Suite. This is an excellent cloud based solution with loads of functionality and integration with your other favorite Google services. They provide free (and Paid for those who want multi user business solutions). The interface doesn’t replicate the Word, Excel and Powerpoint apps, however they still provide an easy to use workflow with familiar icons that make using their apps fairly intuitive. You also get a decent 15GB free to store all you documents and files (however unlimited photos and videos when high resolution option chosen). If you don’t mind the interface not being similar to the MS Office suite then Google G Suite is definitely a great choice. Advertising once again is fairly minimal.
- Zoho Writer, Sheet, Show and more. Zoho is a long time player in the cloud based productivity/office based app world. Though lesser known, they have a huge range of productivity applications with free options for those who are not big users. Their Word, Excel and Powerpoint equivalents are very full featured and can easily provide the features most people would need from Office. There is so much more to Zoho and certainly worth checking out. One downside is less integration with your phone or tablet compared to Google and Apple phones.
There are plenty more options available, the above is a list of offerings that we know to be of high quality and should provide an easy transition from a paid office solution to free.