If you’re a startup, freelancer or small business trying to grow, paying for things when you don’t need to is not the way to go. If there are legal alternatives to popular programs that don’t make you feel like you’re compromising and offer most, if not all, the features you look for, all the better. Office suites are a prime example.
Office 365 is a very good product. It has improved steadily over the past few years but isn’t perfect. In adding new features, Microsoft have made it more complicated, less stable and more prone to be annoying. As someone who uses Office 365 as part of my daily computer support duties as well as running the business, I must say I much preferred the original. There were fewer features but each app did what it was supposed to do with much less hassle.
If you feel the same way or don’t want to pay the $8.25 a month per user for Office 365 Business, read on as I list six of the best free alternatives to Office 365. Our IT Support team regularly use these alternatives as our customers do too.
LibreOffice is a well-known and very well established office suite that easily competes with Office 365. It offers six programs, Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base. Writer is the word processor, Calc the spreadsheet, Impress is for presentations, Draw is for diagrams, Base is a database and Math is a formula editor. All the usual applications an office requires.
LibreOffice is free and open source, even for businesses. It isn’t as slick or as well designed as Office 365 but everything is where you expect it to be and the documents you create are fully compatible with their Microsoft alternatives. It looks, feels and works just like Office 365 but without the overhead.
Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms
Google offers two office suites. The free standalone office apps or the premium G Suite. I regularly use the free version when I’m on remote computer support calls as it works in my browser and I can create, edit and publish documents from anywhere. You can also collaborate, use Google Drive to save documents and perform most office tasks with these apps.
The free versions don’t have all the bells and whistles of Office 365 but they get the core tasks done quickly, reliably and without fuss. G Suite also offers these functions and more collaborative features but costs money. It is worth checking out but as this article was about free alternatives, I’ll leave that alone for now.
Microsoft Office Online
If you cannot leave the look and feel of Office behind, check out Microsoft Office Online. It’s a free, slimmed down version of Office applications available on the web. Designed to counter Google’s offering, Microsoft Office Online is cut down to the basics but can still get the job done. We used to use this for remote computer support calls but switched to Google instead. That was just personal preference though.
It is linked to Outlook online so if you have a Hotmail or Outlook Live account, you will already have access to these apps. There aren’t the number of features you’ll get with LibreOffice but if you only need basic documentation tools, this could be enough for your needs.
Zoho Office is another free alternative to Office 365. It has Writer for text, Sheet for spreadsheets and Show for presentations. The service comes with 5GB of cloud storage and support for up to 25 staff before you’ll need to pay a dime. Zoho Office looks and feels like Office 365 but without the bloat and with all the features you likely use on a daily basis.
It is slimmed down like Google or Microsoft Office Online but has the option for premium extras such as project management tools, accounting tools, mail, helpdesk applications, IT support elements and lots of extra apps you can plug into the core Zoho Office. The free version is very competent but the ability to bolt-on extras if you need them is genius.
WPS Office Free
WPS Office Free is another Office 365 alternative. It isn’t exactly designed for businesses but the personal edition works well for freelancers and startups. There is a specific Business Edition but that costs $44.99 per user per year. The free version is fine for most uses.
It includes Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheets, which should be self-explanatory. The suite also includes a PDF reader which works well. There is no database management tool here but the basics are covered. The look and feel of WPS Office is good with a modern interface, logical navigation and lots of document compatibility.
Polaris Office is another good alternative. It has slick design, reliable apps and works on any device. It is free for personal use but business-specific subscriptions cost from $6.99 a month. You don’t have to use the business version though as the free version has everything you need. It has Word for text, Sheet for spreadsheets, Slide for presentations and PDF for writing and editing PDF documents.
Like all of the suites in this list, Polaris Office is compatible with Word document formats and can read and edit them. The free account comes with 1GB of cloud storage and can be used on three devices at once.
All of these office suites contain the core applications we use day in day out. Some will include extras too depending on the level of product you use. Each has a credible free option that will work fine for freelancers and startups. There is nothing forcing even a smaller business to use the paid business version so you can freely use personal editions if you can live without collaboration tools.
Even though each contains compromises, they aren’t enough to make them feel like a downgrade. Plus, you get to save that $8.25 per user in the bargain so a little compromise could be worth it!
If you need help setting up your office or business location, set up networks, specify servers, desktops or general IT support, New Jersey Computer Help are here for you. Contact us to see how we can help you!