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Well, not me personally – I just want to offer some advice for those of you starting your business on a real shoestring budget.
You probably came here looking for a free (or super-cheap) alternative to Microsoft Office.
After all, MS Office is pretty expensive – the latest version can cost $200 – $300 for a single license.
So how in the hell are you meant to be able to afford that if you’re just starting your own business?
The weird thing is that pretty much anyone can afford a Microsoft Office license.
It just requires a little bit of lateral thinking, and not shopping in your local chain computer store.
Can you download Microsoft Office for free?
Let’s get this out of the way straight off the bat – there’s no legal way to download Microsoft Office free of charge.
You either pay for it or you take to the high seas, but there’s no “free” version floating around out there.
Just to save you wasting time on any click-bait websites.
Note: We do not condone or encourage any form of software piracy before anyone starts screeching about it.
Don’t Buy The Latest Version
Microsoft Office Professional 2019 is available on Amazon right now for the tidy sum of $399, and even Microsoft Home and Business costs at least $265.
The latest version of any Microsoft product is always going to be stupidly expensive.
So the simple solution here is…don’t get the latest version.
The first reason not to do that is financial, but an even more important one is that Microsoft built its entire business on the MVP (minimum viable product) model.
In plain English, this means they release software they know has bugs (so do 90% of other software companies, to be fair) but nothing so serious it would stop you using the software.
Then when all the bug reports come in from the beta testers who paid full price for the software (you), Microsoft then roll out an update or service pack, or whatever the hell it is they do these days.
And by the time they’ve finished fixing all the major bugs…it’s time to release a brand new version of the Office suite.
Great business model, eh?
So instead of trying to figure out how you can pay almost $400 right now for a shiny new Office 2019 license, why not look at older versions instead?
Example – You’ll find Office 2007 on Amazon for anywhere from $69 to about $120. That’s up to $300 cheaper than the latest version.
If you’re willing to travel a little bit further back in time you’ll find Office 2003 for as little as $20.
Okay, so you’ll be using older software, but it will have 95% of the same functionality as the 2019 version that costs over $300 more.
I’m sure Office 2019 is amazeballs, but let’s face facts – if you only need a basic word-processing package and spreadsheet, does it really matter?
Hint: It doesn’t.
But there is another way to get the latest Office software without having to sell a kidney on the black market.
Note: We also do not condone or encourage the sale of human organs on the black market…because that’s just weird and illegal.
Use Office 365 Instead
Office 365 is a subscription-based service where you pay a monthly fee to get access to a full suite of Microsoft Office products.
This includes 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage for all of your files, but you can store them locally too if you prefer.
Microsoft eventually figured out that it’s far easier to get people to pay $10 per month forever for a product than $300 up-front.
And what I mean by that is an Office 365 Business subscription costs $8.25per month.
For that, you get Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, and the 1GB of storage we mentioned earlier.
But you can also choose to pay $9.99 per month for an Office 365 Home plan.
This plan includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, Publisher, 1TB of storage and 60-minutes of Skype calls.
Oh and that license covers up to 6 users across multiple devices.
Basically, you’re renting Microsoft Office instead of buying it outright. This could be a far more expensive for you in the long term e.g. 5 years of Office 365 usage will cost you $700 in total.
But it also means you can get access to the full Office suite right now, and for about what you’d pay for a 12-pack of beers. Or a pizza. Or anything else that costs roughly $10 – you get what we’re saying here.
Anyways the point we’re making here is that you’re wrong if you think you can’t afford Microsoft Office.
Unless of course, you can’t afford to spend $8.25 on your business.
Which brings us to our final point – what if you genuinely can’t afford to pay for it?
Are there any 100% free alternatives to Microsoft Office?
So, you’re really, really, really broke and can’t afford to spend a single cent on office productivity software?
You’re lucky to be alive in an age where open source and free software exists, you know that, right?
One of the best current alternatives to the Microsoft Office suite is to just use Google Docs instead – it comes included with any Gmail account.
So if you don’t have a Gmail account you’ll need to get one. But if you’ve already got one then you have access to Google Docs right now.
Some people actually prefer Google Docs to Microsoft’s products, and having your file storage (15GB of Google Drive space) integrated into the product is a nice touch.
Microsoft offers the same functionality with OneDrive, but that route requires a paid subscription.
Are there any downsides to Google Docs?
I hate the file/folder management interface – it’s a lethargic UX mess that Google should have addressed years ago.
But apart from that Google Docs is excellent, as is Sheets.
I haven’t used any other parts of their suite though, because the reality is most people will end up only ever using Docs and Sheets too.
Apache Open Office
Here we have an open source (free) suite of office productivity software designed to compete with the behemoth that is now Microsoft. I have used Apache Open Office in the past and it’s actually pretty solid.
You get Writer (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (Powerpoint), Draw (ummm…drawing stuff), Base (Access) and Math (nerdy math stuff) included with Open Office.
So it’s basically Microsoft Office Pro, except you don’t have to pay $400 as long as you’re willing to accept it might not be as polished.
The entire package is only just over 130MB in size, and it’s also available in multiple languages at absolutely no extra cost.
Libre Office is another free office suite, in the same vein as Open Office.
You again get Writer (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (Powerpoint), Draw (graphics), Base (Access) and Math (more nerdy math stuff).
Full transparency here – I have not used Libre Office in a few years, but I have author friends who use either it or Open Office because they’re tired of the Microsoft Office suite.
This suite is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android – so having access to a free productivity suite for your smartphone is a pretty big bonus.