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So you’re looking for alternatives to Office 365?
You’re not alone.
Pretty much everyone needs a productivity suite of some kind.
But with some versions of MS Office retailing for over $300, that puts them well out of the price range of the average person.
So how in the hell are you meant to be able to afford that if you’re just starting out with your small business?
The good news is that there are several alternatives to Microsoft Office, and yes they’re completely free.
Let’s take a look at what’s available to you.
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?
1. Google Docs
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.
You get the Google version of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint but you don’t get an MS Access equivalent.
I know several business owners who exclusively use G Suite instead of Office 365 – they love being able store and collaborate on their files in the Google cloud.
And speaking of storage, you get 15GB of Google Drive space free as part of the deal.
Are there any downsides to Google Docs when it comes to Office 365 alternatives?
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 – they’re both compatible with existing Microsoft file formats.
And you also have the option of upgrading to G Suite if you need business-class email and additional Google Drive storage.
G Suite isn’t free though – you’ll have to pay at least $5 per month for the privilege of using it.
2. Apache Open Office
Here we have a free office suite (open source) designed to compete with the behemoth that is Office 365.
I have used Apache Open Office in the past and it’s actually pretty solid in terms of the office suites you can download at no cost.
Actually, when I first started using this office suite it was just “Open Office” – Apache obviously acquired it somewhere along the way.
You get Writer (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (Powerpoint), Draw (drawing stuff), Base (Access) and Math (nerdy math stuff) included with Open Office.
So it’s basically Office Pro, except you don’t have to pay $400 as long as you’re willing to accept it might not be as polished in places.
But you do get a very competent office suite to work with.
The entire package is only just over 130MB in size, and it’s also available in multiple languages.
If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to at least take Apache Office for a test drive.
3. Libre Office
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 do have author friends who use either it or Open Office because they’re tired of paying for Office 365 when they really just need a word-processing package and not much else.
As free office suites go it’s one of the best available today.
And that’s backed up by tens of thousands of happy Libre Office users.
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 perk.
4. WPS Office
Next up we have WPS Office, yet another alternative to using Microsoft Office.
Now here’s a really interesting suite, and proof that you have plenty of options when it comes to office software and having no cash.
What you get for exactly $0 is the WPS Office Writer, Spreadsheets, Presentation and PDF applications, and you get 1GB of cloud storage space thrown in for good measure. That’s still ony 1/15th of what Google offers though.
The interface is also pretty innovative – you use a tabbed interface that allows you to jump between apps from the same integrated UI.
Although this might take some getting used to if you’ve been using Office 365/Microsoft Office for several years.
Also, it’s available for available for PC, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux and there’s also a web-based version too.
For those of you who choose to download it, WPS Office is only 148MB in size.
5. Zoho Office
Zoho Office is another free suite available for small office or personal use.
The difference here is that this suite is only available online, making it very similar to Google Docs and/or G-Suite.
What you get is their Writer, Sheet, Show and Notebook applications, so all pretty typical fare there.
Notebook is basically a scaled-down version of Evernote, with all your activities synced to their cloud.
Apart from that Zoho Office is available for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android.
Something worth pointing out is that this suite uses Two-Factor authentication as well as a comprehensive backup plan and industry-leading encryption.
Long story short, your data is kept safe.
This is an interesting alternative to Microsoft Office/Office 365.
6. Softmaker Free Office
SoftMaker Free Office is a…well…it’s a free office suite, so no surprises there.
And it’s permanently free – but if you want the 64-bit Windows version it’s going to cost you $29.90 per year.
The 64-bit Mac and Linux versions are completely free though.
What you get is TextMaker (Word), PlanMaker (Excel), and Presentations (guess what that is).
That means no Access equivalent, but how many people buy MS Office solely for the database application?
What stands out straight away about this suite is that it looks and feels pretty much exactly like Microsoft applications.
So that means your learning/migration curve is close to zero.
And the added bonus is that Free Office is, allegedly, fully compatible with current Microsoft file formats.
7. Office on the Web
Now, here’s something interested – a web-based version of Microsoft Office.
And it’s free.
Okay, you don’t get the full suite but you do get scaled-down versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
You also get 5GB of free OneDrive space to store your files – which makes sense because it’s a cloud-based app.
But you can download a copy of your files to work on locally.
All you need to get started is a free Microsoft Live/Hotmail account.
And yes, the interface is pretty much identical to the desktop apps, so you’ll feel right at home.
8. iWork for iCloud
Next up, we have Apple’s contribution in the form of iWork.
And the good news is that, yes, Windows users can also use this office suite.
Actually anyone can because the whole deal is available as part of an iCloud account – you just need to sign up for one.
What you get is Pages (Word), Numbers (Excel) and Keynote (PowerPoint) – more than enough for the average small business. But you do also get 5GB of iCloud storage space for your files.
The only real downside to this free office suite is that the interface is very different – the menu bar is off to the left.
If you’re an Apple user then you’ll feel right at home, but there might be a tiny learning curve for everyone else.
9. Only Office
I literally only heard about Only Office the week before I started writing this blog post
At first glance it appears to be a freemium office suite but there is a free version of what they call their ‘Desktop Editors’ tucked away on the site.
What these offer you is Document (Word), Spreadsheet (Excel) and Presentation (PowerPoint).
There’s no need for online storage here either – you can save your documents locally.
How well do their apps work?
You’ll feel right at home if you’ve ever used Microsoft Office or Office 365 – they’re really that similar.
The only major difference is that your work from a central hub, with each application opening in a separate tab.
The OnlyOffice ‘Desktop Editors’ are available for Windows, Mac and Linux, so nobody gets left out.
There’s also currently offering a 180-day trial, so you can get 6-months of access without paying a cent.
10. Oxygen Office
Oxygen Office is an offshoot of the original Open Office project, which was acquired by Apache and now offers a paid version of the applications.
Based on Open Office 2.3.0, the goal of Oxygen Office is to make sure that you can always get access to a free office suite.
So what do you actually get when you download it.
You get Writer (Word), Calc (Spreadsheet), Base (Access), Impress (PowerPoint), a PDF creator, a calculator app, a diagram creator and Avast anti-virus.
Or basically, everything you’d get with the Open Office suite, but minus the $59 price tag.
I haven’t tested this one yet, but it does sound interesting.
Summing It Up
And there you have 10 alternatives to Office 365 that you can download and use today without paying a single cent.
Which one is best for you?
The only way to find out is to download or sign up for each one and try it.
There are aspects of G-suite that I love, but I despise the interface, for example.
Whereas SoftMaker Free Office has a very familiar interface but I suspect you need the paid version to get the full experience.
So the goal is to find the middle ground where you’re happy with the tool you’re using.
Just accept that free software is…well…free, so you might have to make some tiny compromises.