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. And Microsoft Office is expensive.
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:
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.
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.
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.