Microsoft Office has become the default document editing suite for many organizations and the increasing costs that come along with the software suite are often accepted as the cost of doing business. Many organizations and European Governments are now starting the realize that Microsoft can be quite easily terminated without disruption to workflow. The cost-savings of ditching Microsoft Office can be in millions as Microsoft continues to increase costs for their subscription-based software by 20% each year. Microsoft Office licenses are now funneled into Microsoft Office 365, and require a one-year contract, even on a monthly term.

These alternatives to Office are no longer seen as inferior, free alternatives. Rather they are innovative solutions that work well and do credit to free software as a way to get things done that’s at least as effective as Microsoft’s proprietary software.

If you’re looking for an open-source alternative to Microsoft Office 365, take a look at these options:

LibreOffice

libreoffice.org

So, while Microsoft Office is perhaps the best-known option, it’s best left for professionals, businesses, and users with more than enough money to spend on luxuries. That’s especially with LibreOffice providing a competing suite of office software that’s just as exceptional, versatile, and feature-rich at no cost to its users.

How does it manage to do this? LibreOffice is an offshoot of the OpenOffice project and is developed by a huge team of enthusiastic coders who are lending their services without pay. This same team also delivers regular updates and new features to ensure it keeps pace with premium office software. The only notable difference between LibreOffice and Microsoft Office is that LibreOffice doesn’t really have a “support” service. If you run into problems, you’ll have to turn to the community of users who use the software suite rather than someone specifically dedicated to the task. But if you think about how often you need to turn to a professional to resolve problems on a spreadsheet or word processor, you’ll have to admit that this is hardly a decisive difference.

Just how exactly is LibreOffice keeping up with something as widely beloved and relied on as Microsoft Office. To start, it comes with six component programs that provide everything you need from an office suite:

Writer (word processing)
Calc (spreadsheets)
Impress (presentations)
Draw (vector graphics)
Math (mathematical formulae)
Base (databases)

Platforms: GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, BSD, Android, and Haiku

Benefits

L

Library of extensions

Open-Source

Recommended by French Government

Limitations

+

Concerns about compatibility

FreeOffice

freeoffice.com

If you are looking for a free and easy alternative to Microsoft Office, then FreeOffice is the suite for you. The company, SoftMaker, has been developing office software since 1987 and its office suite is their flagship product.

FreeOffice is a complete office suite that is free to use for both home and in the workplace. It is developed for both Windows and Linux, and offers a basic version for Android users.

The suite itself is fully compatible with all Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats. This means that you can not only view but save files in formats such as DOCX, XLSX and PPTX. It also supports older file types such as PPT and XLS.

The new interface that was launched this year gives you the option of either working with modern or classic menus and toolbars. This makes switching from Microsoft Office easy to do as the interface is eerily similar.

For those users who have the luxury of a touchscreen PC you can use touch mode with larger icons. This mode is available for both the newer version look and the classic menu-based interface.

Benefits

Ease of use

Open Source

Free

Limitations

Uses local computer resources

Thexyz Cloud Drive

thexyz.com

Thexyz Cloud Drive upgrade adds 30GB of online Cloud Drive storage for each of your mailboxes. Collaborate with our Microsoft Office-compatible applications so you can create, access, and edit documents and spreadsheets from your web browser. Access your files securely from everywhere with 30GB of online Cloud Drive storage that’s protected with 256-bit encryption.

Platforms: Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android.

Benefits

Regular new features

Open Source

Scalable for teams

Limitations

Cost per user

Web apps only

Calligra

calligra.org

Rather than directly confronting the two heavyweights in the field, Microsoft Office and LibreOffice, Calligra has tried to differentiate itself through the ergonomy of managing large documents, but also by orienting itself towards users willing to switch completely to open-source solutions. For example, the suite relies on OpenDocument formats and does not necessarily aim for compatibility with Microsoft’s formats.

Besides the several add-ons that you may be tempted to try, Callibra’s main advantage is that it fits perfectly into KDE open-source software. The technical compatibility and consistent graphic design make the Calligra suite very easy to use if you have already chosen to use KDE. Although there are some that note Calligra has difficulties in ensuring satisfactory compatibility with Microsoft data formats.

Platforms: GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, BSD

Benefits

h

No sign up required

SIP compatible

Easy to use

Limitations

b

Limited MS Office compatibility

Small community of developers

OnlyOffice

onlyoffice.com

The OnlyOffice project was created in 2009 with a group of Latvian developers, TeamLab, who came up with the idea of a collaborative office tool. A few years later, the tool has a desktop version and has, in fact, become an open-source alternative to Microsoft Office.

The “office” part of OnlyOffice includes a word processor, a spreadsheet editor, a slideshow presentation tool, and a form creator.

Platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS

Benefits

Mobile friendly

Free & Open Source

Easy to use

Limitations

s

No add-on tools

Implementation can be tricky

Limited desktop support

OpenOffice

openoffice.org

The OpenOffice.org, or OOo, first launched in 2000, 10 years after Microsoft’s, and came out with the first version of its software in 2002. But its origins trace back to the 1980s since OpenOffice is in fact a free continuation of StarOffice, a previous competitor to Microsoft’s, which was already free at that time for individuals and especially students. In 2011, the project was transferred to the Apache Foundation (which is what gives it the name Apache OpenOffice).

OpenOffice has earned its reputation as a solid alternative to Microsoft Office thanks to the interest from public institutions.

Platforms: GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and BSD

Benefits

Open/Save Word files or PDF

Free to use

Easy to use

Limitations

Apache struggled to keep the project active

t

Updates are less frequent

Nextcloud

Setup a Nextcloud instance

We have been a big supporter of the Nextcloud project even before when the developers were part of ownCloud. This open-source software provides you with your own private cloud space with plenty of tools geared toward collaboration installed on your own server. Although this is free, open-source software, you will need a server and with our service, you can set one up with a few clicks and have Nextcloud pre-installed. Users can store and share documents and files using either the web interface or just by dropping them into a Nextcloud directory on their desktop, which gets synchronized automatically with the Nextcloud desktop client. The web interface also features a chat application called Talk, which features the ability to make voice calls, conference calls, and video calls to now offer Nextcloud as a complete conferencing platform with virtual backgrounds. We tested the chat app with 50 participants and it worked great with the excellent video quality.

Platforms: Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android.

Benefits

Regular new features

Open Source

Unlimited users

Limitations

Requires server

Resource intensive

Early days for office apps

Google Workspace

thexyz.com/gsuite

If the privacy and security of your files are not a concern, then Google may an alternative option to a Microsoft 365. While it is still expensive compared to other software, it does work out slightly cheaper than the Microsoft Office Suite. Many people with limited knowledge of computers and software prefer Google docs as it may be the only software that has ever been used.

Benefits

Easy for people with limited PC skills

Limitations

r

Poor privacy polices

Expensive and not free

Data lock-in

Besides these general solutions, there are also Microsoft Office alternatives tailored to your specific needs. It’s difficult to say for sure that any one solution is better than another since everyone will find in each of these possibilities the option that best meets their needs:

  • Do you need a complete suite or just a word processor?
  • Are you looking for a way to do collaborative work and share access to documents?
  • Will you need to coordinate your work with employees, coworkers, or contractors using a proprietary format, Windows for example?

The decision to turn to an open-source alternative to Microsoft Windows is in any case an opportunity to question how you need to use these tools and “deconstruct” Windows’s influence. The world of free and open-source software has not stopped at being “like Windows but free” and can also provide another way to think about office tools.