Bill wants … replacements for MS Office

By | March 12, 2011
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Bill wants to know what we suggest as replacements for Microsoft Office
I know you guys have written about this before, but I can’t find everything in one place. Do you have a list of suggested replacements for Microsoft Office? I’d appreciate it if you could post it in your newsletter. Thanks for all your help over the years. Many thanks! Bill.

Our answer
Thanks, Bill. This week alone we had at least a dozen letters from readers asking for substitutes for Microsoft Office, or for the programs included with it. While Microsoft does offer free “viewers” for most documents created with Microsoft Office, but it’s not very convenient to have to download a separate viewer for each type of Office document. All of the programs below can open most Office documents, and most can save files in Office formats.

Here in one list are some of the programs we’ve looked at that can open and create most Office document formats:

List of free downloadable or online desktop office suites

Open Office
The most often recommended alternative to MS Office by you – our readers. We’ve tried it and think it’s a great replacement for MS Office. It can read and create almost any Office document format and you can’t beat the price. If you’re looking for Office compatibility and a really all-around good replacement for MS Office you can’t beat Open Office.
Get more information about Open Office – and/or download it here. Dialup users? It’s a 148 MB download. Keep that in mind. You can read more about Open Office here.

IBM Lotus Symphony
Not much MS Office compatibility here – except with MS Word. It contains all of the programs you’d get with MS Word but many are in proprietary formats which only those using Lotus will be able to read. Not a good choice unless you don’t care who can read your files. It’s a great office suite but if your files aren’t readable (except MS Word Doc format) by MS Office users then it’s not a real alternative to MS Office. We’re listing it here because it is free and it is an office suite. It is also a download over 200 MB. Dialup users please note that. If you’re interested in learning more about
Lotus Symphony (Free) visit this page.

Online (in the cloud) office suites

Though these online (in the cloud) suites don’t require you to download them, if you’re using dial-up you’ll find they may not work very well for you – so keep that in mind. If you have a high-speed connection, you’ll find that working on the web is just about as fast as working on your desktop.

Google Docs
Complete MS Office compatibility – and lots of space to store  your files. Reads all the standard MS Office formats and creates them too. Google Docs has become the most popular of all online office suites – well it’s by Google for one thing – and its compatibility with MS Office doesn’t hurt. You can upload and download the documents you create or have created to and from your desktop computer. Want to learn more about Google Docs? Visit this page. If you have a Gmail account you can login with your Gmail login info. Once you log into your Gmail account click “Documents” at the top of the page.

Zoho is another online office productivity suite. It features MS Office-compatible word processor, spreadsheet and presentation apps. Zoho also includes online project management, web conferencing, online database with reports, online planner, group chat, wiki, and more. Requires registration and a high-speed Internet connection. If Zoho sounds interesting to you,
you can learn more about it here. You can sign-in with your Yahoo or Google information, but we don’t advise you to do that. Zoho probably has the nicest online word processor we’ve ever seen. Zoho is free for personal/home users.

ThinkFree is a unique online office suite that is free – you can also buy it for your computer. If you could only buy it wouldn’t be listed under our freeware picks section, but since you can use all its applications online for free – it is. Features include all the standard office apps plus compatibility with MS Office apps. You can use ThinkFree in one other way. If you don’t have MS Office installed, you can open any kind of Office doc using ThinkFree without signing up for an account. Another pretty nifty online office suite you can use free.
To learn more about ThinkFree visit their web site.

7 thoughts on “Bill wants … replacements for MS Office

  1. Dorith Carmeli


    Recently I d/l Jarte. I have not much experience with it, as it is relatively new for me. But so far I like it. Documents I created in Microsoft Office (2003), I can open without problem in Jarte. I have not tried other formats.

    Greetings, Dorith


    What is wrong with the Softmaker / Textmaker products from Ashampoo?
    I have had very good luck using them… however, I am mainly only using the word processor. Very reasonably low priced – compatible with MS WORD. I have the 2008 version, and I think I bought it for about $14.95, and it includes two other programs with it – a suite of 3.
    Also, what is wrong with using the newer MS ONLINE products called SkyDrive, for those who have a Hotmail or Live account. MS is trying to keep up with OPEN OFFICE .. which I think is way too large of a file — but yes — I didn’t forget — it is FREE!! MS Office products are way out of my pocketbook!
    I just wasn’t real crazy about your list of OFFICE compatible products you listed — just being honest.
    I am a trueblue Cloudeight fan and supporter — and I use Cloudeight HOME PAGE and I use it everyday!

    1. infoave Post author

      I’ve never been a fan of Ashampoo’s products, but I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with any of them. They sure have a full spectrum of software products. Software, is a very personal choice. Bill asked for “free” replacements for MS Office .So we gave him a few of the ones we’ve tested. I personally use Google Docs and it works fine for the way I use it, plus I have my docs backed up online as well as on my computer.

      There are some really good free word processors, none better, in my opinion than Jarte Jarte.

      We’re always glad to learn of new things and other people’s opinions about software products. Bill asked specifically about free replacements for MS Office. I just looked at Ashampoo’s site and their Office program is $59.95 (Office 2010) – so not quite a free replacement for MS Office. As I said, there are many word processors out there, some free, some low cost, but we assumed that Bill was looking for a full Office suite – sans cost.

      But hey, we all have our own preferences, and it’s always good to learn of alternatives. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. Thanks for sharing your favorite word processor – maybe others will find it useful too.

      Thanks for your nice comments – and for your support.

  3. Daniel Hulseapple

    Since I first started using a computer during my “working” days, I have used the Corel “WordPerfect” programs and have always preferred their format over everything I have seen of MS office offerings. However, even Corel is becoming overpriced, and I may be switching to Open Office. However, even there I am looking more for the word processing program and little else. I also prefer personal based programs no the online programs. Just too concerned about the confidentiality of sensitive materials.

  4. Ray Murberger

    Another excellent and free alternative is Libre Office, which is a fork of Open Office, with many additional enhancements included. Information and download available here

  5. Jaye Gundrum

    I’ve downloaded and it has pretty much everything the MS Office has. I did have MS Office, and somewhere along the line, (in the updates etc.) I ended up with a beta version (which I didn’t have before), and got a notice that it had expired and I had to pay for it. (Not a hope on that one, I’m on a fixed income-pension) I haven’t had any problems with at all, and it looks basically the same as MSWord.


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