While it is common knowledge that Microsoft Office is the standard Word Processing/Spreadsheet/Presentation/Productivity software package, there are some excellent alternatives out there. Microsoft Office is expensive, and in recent news, once Office is installed, it is permanently installed on that computer. In other words, if you install office on your computer, you cannot ever use the same software license on another computer. Previously, you could “reassign” a license of Office to a different computer. Say, for instance, your computer breaks. You can reassign your copy of Office to a replacement computer. Now you will have to actually buy a new license! In light of this, it is beneficial to know that there a number of Office alternatives out there.
Anyone who is a Mac user will know that iWork is a great Office alternative. iWork is software bundle that includes 3 applications: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote which are alternatives to Work, Excel, and Powerpoint respectively. Pages is an outstanding word processing application and also allows for simple and efficient page layout documents, which is helpful for creating fliers & graphic heavy documents. Numbers is a very simple spreadsheet program, that while quite capable, is not nearly as powerful as Excel. Keynote is, in my opinion, a much better alternative to Powerpoint. It is much more user friendly and makes incorporating images, graphs, and charts incredibly simple. Also, the effects that can be applied to slides are nearly limitless. All and all this is a great Office alternative…if you have a Mac.
As far as PC or Linux users are concerned, iWork will not do you any good. There are a number of cloud based options out there that work on all platforms including Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive, and Zoho. These options are really cool because they use web based software. In other words, you don’t need to install anything, you simply log into your account and edit your documents through your web browser. This is a great feature because whether you are working on a Mac, PC, iPhone, Android or any other system, the software always stays exactly the same. These options are great for basic word processing and presentations, but beyond the basics they start to lack functionality.
One of the leading Microsoft Office alternatives is Open Office. Open Office is free to download and includes Writer (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (Powerpoint), Draw (graphics) and Base (database manipulation). The applications are laid out just like Word, Powerpoint, etc. so making the switch from Word to Writer is simple, and it will open all of your existing Word documents . What’s more is you can save your documents in nearly any format under the sun, so your documents will open on Mac, Windows, Linux and anything else. Open Office also has some really cool features that the Microsoft applications lack. For example, you can open and edit a PDF in Writer without any additional software, which Word cannot do. In addition, you can use Writer to make an editable PDF, so you can quickly and easily make digital forms that you can include in an email or on your website. Open Office has an excellent built in help feature, so its easy to find answers if you run into a snag while you’re working. Plus, they have an online community, so you can post questions and quickly get answers.
Microsoft Office has and probably always will be the standard in productivity software, but as a result of stronger anti-piracy measures, you may find yourself looking for an alternative. Open Office is free, easy to use, powerful, and incredibly versatile.