Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office Suite

Microsoft Office Alternatives

Many people purchase a computer and just assume the Microsoft Office Suite package comes standard on it.


It does not come standard.  You can pay extra for the package or experience the trial version that often comes preloaded on systems and is usable for only a limited period of time.

Many of us do not have that extra few bucks to spend on the full software package, but don’t worry, I’ll give you the best  free alternatives for the Microsoft Office Suite you may not be in a position to purchase for now.  You can keep an eye out for Microsoft Office deals of course, if you simply must have it, but there are a number of very good alternatives available.

Microsoft Office may be the most popular office productivity suite currently on the market and the Industry standard, but don’t expect this to last forever considering the onset of new, web-based, and open-source alternatives coming out every day. Recently, not only has the number of MS Office competitors grown significantly, but also the quality of these products has increased immeasurably.

Choosing free software over expensive proprietary software doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose features and support. Today’s open source office productivity software is feature-rich and provides ample access to online documentation and large communities of users and developers. Google Docs is just one of the free suites that replicates most, if not quite all, of Microsoft Office’s functionality.

Open source products support common document file types, including Microsoft file formats. Best of all, when you choose open source office software, you can forget about the hefty purchase price and per-user licensing fees that can eat into your budget.

If you’re looking for a Microsoft Office alternative, for whatever reason, here are the details on a few full-featured alternatives worth taking a look at.

Apache OpenOffice

Apache OpenOffice

Apache Open Office is one of the better-known open source office software suites available.

It provides tools for:

  • word processing
  • spreadsheets
  • presentations
  • graphics
  • databases

Apache OpenOffice lets you read Microsoft Word documents and save your work in Microsoft Word format as well as in the OpenDocument format.

The full Apache OpenOffice suite includes six tools for managing office tasks:

  • Writer, the word processor, can handle anything from writing a quick letter to producing a book. Features include design wizards, autocorrect, formatting, styles, HTML and MediaWiki export, tables and desktop publishing tasks.
  • Calc, the spreadsheet application, will calculate, analyze and present data in numerical reports or graphics. Features include options to pull in raw data from databases, natural language formulas, a quick sum button, wizards, styles and a Scenario Manager for “what if” analysis.
  • When creating multimedia presentations, Impress supports multiple monitors and a complete range of views. including draw, outline, slides and notes. Drawing and diagramming tools, slideshow  animation and effects are also available.
  • Draw is an image application that  can produce everything from simple diagrams to  3-D illustrations.
  • The database tool,Base,  can create and modify tables, forms, queries and reports within Apache  OpenOffice.
  • Finally, Math can create mathematical equations  through either a graphic user interface or by directly typing formulas into the equation editor.

Apache OpenOffice can be downloaded and used entirely free of any license fees:



Developed by The Document Foundation, LibreOffice suite is a fork of OpenOffice, meaning the underlying source code is the same, but the software has gone in a different development direction. (LibreOffice was created in 2010 by OpenOffice developers worried about what Oracle, which had acquired Sun Microsystems, the original developers of, would do with the code base.)

LibreOffice boasts the same six applications as Apache OpenOffice – Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base and Math – but the two suites differ in terms of application features, usability and community support. Specifically, LibreOffice is often considered to be more actively developed than OpenOffice; the standard package, for example, offers PDF import, a presentation minimizer and a Wiki publisher. Users can expand functionality with extensions and templates as well:

NeoOffice: Office applications for Mac OS X


The NeoOffice suite is an OpenOffice fork that was created before OpenOffice and LibreOffice supported Mac OS.

NeoOffice has nearly all of the features found in but, in focusing on the unique needs of Mac users, offers a Mac-like installation process and better support for Mac features, including integration into the OS X interface and use of Mac OS X fonts and printing services.

The newest version of NeoOffice, supports high-resolution text drawing on Retina displays, compatibility with Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and Gatekeeper, and native Mac OS X text highlighting. It also lets NeoOffice Mobile users securely share NeoOffice files with other users, computers and devices:

Google Docs

Google Docs: Create, share and collaborate online

Google Docs is an office productivity suite that lets anyone with a Google account create, share and collaborate on the Web. Google offers tools for documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and forms, all centrally stored and accessed via the cloud-based storage service Google Drive.

  • The Google Documents online word processor lets you create and format text documents and collaborate with people who have been given edit, comment or view access. Google Documents converts most file types to Google Docs format, includes revision history and provides margin, spacing and font options. Files can be downloaded as Word, OpenOffice, RTF, PDF, HTML or zip files.
  • Google Spreadsheets can create and format spreadsheets, charts and gadgets. Google Spreadsheets supports .xls, .csv, .txt and .ods data, and the application features formatting and formula editing. You can embed a spreadsheet in your blog or website.
  • Google Presentations lets you create, share and edit visual presentations; convert existing presentations into .pptx and .pps file types, and download presentations as a PDF, a Microsoft PowerPoint or .txt file. There are also options to insert images and videos, format slides and offer real-time viewing of presentations online.
  • Google Docs also includes Google Drawings, an image editor for creating drawings, images, shapes and lines that can be used in any Google Doc, andGoogle Forms, which creates online forms that can be shared from a link, in an email or embedded on your website.

So what do you use?  Can you add any open source programs to the list?


Posted in:
About the Author

Sherri Meinke

A long-standing Computer Geek with over 25 years of experience. Having owned her first Apple IIe and moving on up the ranks with a multitude of Windows-based pc’s to her latest toy, a Dell Venue 11 Pro tablet with Windows 10. Sherri repairs, upgrades, and recycles computers as well as consults, trains & designs Websites. She is a Former AOL Community Leader and loves forums as well as online training. She created the "Camp Wired" computer training program at the Medina County Library system, 8 years ago. It is a free computer education program teaching technology in a relaxed atmosphere where students at all levels get to mentor other students and grow in their knowledge and understanding of technology. This program runs year round with no signs of slowing down.

There are 16 comments

Comments are closed.