Microsoft office may be running the show as far as office suites are concerned, but don’t count out the underdog, especially with six top notch products available with out touching your wallet.
Recently, in only the last 2 to 3 years, not only have the number of competitors to “ole faithful” grown, but the quality of each package has improved ten-fold and really is meant to compete
The best part about these new office alternatives is that they are completely FREE and they work with Microsoft Office. This means that you can save files and take them back and forth from pc, to mac, to linux workstation with pretty much no data loss.
Here’s a list of six of the most popular alternative office productivity suites out there today. They include online only and downloadable suites as well.
If you want to preserve space on your hard drive, then your best bet is one of the three online offices suites below;
1. Google Docs may be the most familiar of Office Suite competitors. It is 100% completely online and includes a web-based Word Processor, Spreadsheet application, and a Presentation app. As a simple note, all of Google Doc apps appear to be optimized for the Google Chrome browser, but they still fully functional in Safari, Firefox and IE
2. Zoho may very well be the best online office productivity suite, due in part to it not just being the typical suite. While it incorporates a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation apps, it also includes other valuable features like online project management, an online database with reports, online planner, group chat, wiki, and more. Zoho also has a plugin for MS office for truly seamless transfer.. Once you create an account, you have full access to all the functionality
3.Thinkfree seems to be the closest to MS office, as the interface for each app is very similar to MS Office including the toolbars, icons, and functions. Thinkfree also has advanced collaboration features such that users can share, edit, and contribute their ideas remotely. They also have a downloadable suite that is a fraction of what the actual Microsoft Office suite costs.
Much like the candy bar commercial that touts “sometimes you feel like a nut……”, you know the rest. Sometimes you just want something physical on your pc/mac/linux box. The next three with give you that satisfaction.
4. LibreOffice appears to be tied (with OpenOffice) for the most features this side of a high price tag. What ever can be done in the MS Office Suite can be done here as well. You can do it a whole lot cheaper too.
5. IBM Lotus Symphony – IBM Lotus Symphony is a direct competitor to the Microsoft Office suite because it is also a desktop application aimed at individuals and businesses. The suite consists of Symphony Documents, Symphony Presentations, and Symphony Spreadsheets. It is bare bones, but appears to get the job done
6. OpenOffice – OpenOffice is a multi-platform (Win, Mac, Linux) and multi-lingual office suite, which is compatible with all major office suites (i.e. Microsoft Office). It includes Writer (word processing), Impress (presentation), Math, Draw, Calc (spreadsheet), and Base applications. IBM Lotus Symphony and LibreOffice are both based on the code from OpenOffice.
So if you’re still stuck on Office, be sure to check out all the new alternatives, as they will probably be the future of office productivity suites.
A final thought here is to check out a review I did back in 2009 on a book called “After The Software Wars”, which has possibly foretold of Microsoft’s systematic demise.