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Apr 03

Top 3 free alternatives to Microsoft Office

Why choose a free alternative to Microsoft Office?

While I think office is great and I do use it at work it is very expensive especially if you want the full professional version (at time of writing over £300) even the most basic home and student version will set you back over £70.

The thing is there are free alternatives to Microsoft office and to be honest 90% of us don’t use the advanced features you pay for in office. Those of us just using it for personal use for a bit of word processing or a bit of Excel to track our bill payments do have alternatives and best of all these alternatives are free. So let’s look at 3 of the best free office software alternatives

Open office free office

Open office

Download from http://www.openoffice.org/

Open office is something I have used for a number of years at home and find perfect for the tasks we need to do at home such as letters, a bit of spreadsheet work to work out our bills.

Open office runs on all windows operating systems as well as Mac OS X and most Linux systems. Open office is open source and distributed freely and is currently developed by Oracle corporation since it acquired sun Microsystems.

Open office covers pretty much the same as the basic Microsoft office suite and the 3.3 version of open office comes with the following:

Openoffice.org Writer Alternative to Microsoft word offering word processing and is able to read documents created in a variety of formats including .doc.
Openoffice.org Calc This is the alternative to Microsoft Excel and offers spreadsheet facilities.
Openoffice.org Draw This is a graphics editor and is similar to Microsoft publisher.
Openoffice.org Impress This is the presentation part of the suite which allows you creative impressive presentations. This is similar to Microsoft PowerPoint.
Openoffice.org Base An alternative to Microsoft access and allows you to create an manipulate databases.
Openoffice.org Math Allows you to edit and create math formulas.

Is it a viable free alternative to MS office?

It seems to be the be the general consensus that if you are looking for an easy transition from Microsoft office to a free office suite this is still your best option simply because of the features in the program. The downside is that the User interface sometimes leaves something to be desired and there are still compatibility issues.


Google Docs free office

Google Docs

No download visit https://docs.google.com

Google docs is when compared to the others a relatively new entrant into the market but is already taking a large market share. Google Docs offer a range of products so that you can create a range of different documents. Google docs has a few big differences from other office suites.

• Documents are created online and it does not require software on your computer just a Google account.
• You can access your documents from anywhere in the world on any computer all for free.
• Data storage is limited to 10GB (more than most users will ever use anyway)

Google Docs allows you to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and a whole host of other files and save them so they can easily be shared or saved to the web service or downloaded to your machine to be accessed later.

The thing about Google docs is that it is not trying to do anything fancy it is trying to give you the basics you need to create your documents. Obviously this has downsides should you want to do more complex documents but if you are just looking for the basics you could ask for nothing more.

Good alternative to office for basic documents?

Yes Google Docs is excellent if you just want the basics. Yes there are downsides such as the limit on fonts and the fact that you must be connected to the internet to use it but overall it is an excellent suite.


Libre Office Logo- free office

LibreOffice

Download from http://www.libreoffice.org/

Libre office is very similar to open office and is developed by the document foundation (a fork of open office.org) and is distributed freely.

Taken from Wikipedia (link)

On 28 September 2010, several members of the OpenOffice.org project formed a new group called “The Document Foundation”. The Document Foundation created LibreOffice from their former project in response to Oracle Corporation’s purchasing of Sun Microsystems over concerns that Oracle would either discontinue OpenOffice.org, or place restrictions on it as an open source project, as it had on Sun’s OpenSolaris.
It was originally hoped that the LibreOffice name would be provisional, as Oracle was invited to become a member of The Document Foundation. Oracle rejected requests to donate the OpenOffice.org brand to the project and demanded that all members of the OpenOffice.org Community Council involved with The Document Foundation step down from the OOo Community Council, citing a conflict of interest.

Libre Office as open office does runs on all windows operating systems as well as Mac OS X and Linux systems (it tends to be the suite of choice on Linux distros). Open office is open source and distributed freely and is currently developed by Oracle corporation since it acquired sun Microsystems.

Libre Office due to its beginnings obviously has a lot of the features of Open office.org and covers pretty much the same as the basic Microsoft office suite

Writer Alternative to Microsoft word offering word processing and is able to read documents created in a variety of formats including .doc.
Calc This is the alternative to Microsoft Excel and offers spreadsheet facilities.
Draw This is a graphics editor and is similar to Microsoft publisher.
Impress This is the presentation part of the suite which allows you creative impressive presentations. This is similar to Microsoft PowerPoint.
Base An alternative to Microsoft access and allows you to create an manipulate databases.
Math Allows you to edit and create math formulas.

Libre Office an alternative to Microsoft Office?

Because of the strong similarities to Open Office the answer has to be yes. Some make claims that oracle could limit development of Open office and encourage people to swap to Libre but the truth remains to be seen and we may see these 2 office suites develop in different directions in the future.