The Microsoft Office suite, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and a handful of other office productivity tools, has been a staple in the workplace for over 30 years.
Traditionally, you were required to download the office suite to your Windows computer and run it offline, and some people still use Microsoft Office this way. But around 2006, Microsoft felt pressure from web-based document editors such as the Google Docs Editors suite from rival Google, so an online version of Microsoft Office now exists known as Microsoft 365.
Google offered its online office suite for free, so it quickly captured much of the market. Other Microsoft Office alternatives emerged, too, that catered to particular niches, such as cross-platform office suites and open-source office tools.
There are currently enough alternatives to Office with their own benefits that it makes sense to consider whether there’s a better option for your business.
In this article, we look at some of the best Microsoft Office alternatives on offer today. There’s no clear winner here because the perfect office suite for your needs depends on your unique requirements. We’ve included a variety of free, paid, web-based, and desktop alternatives, and discussed the pros and cons of each.
Google Workspace The original cloud-based office suite Price: From $4.20/month | Platform: Web application with mobile apps Google Workspace, previously known as G Suite, is a cloud-based productivity suite from internet giant Google. It’s an amalgamation of 12 Google tools for a monthly subscription that starts at $4.20 per user a month. These tools include Gmail (email), Drive (cloud storage), Docs (word processing), Sheets (spreadsheets), Slides (presentations), and Meet (video conferencing).
The tools work well in any modern web browser, which makes deployment across an organization a cinch. There are mobile apps for Apple and Android devices, so you can access your documents from all your devices wherever you are.
Collaboration is also excellent, so you can seamlessly work on the same documents with colleagues without stepping on each other’s toes, and there’s robust versioning so you can roll back to previous versions of documents if need be.
You can import and export Microsoft-format documents, but note that it can cause formatting mistakes. This is more the fault of Microsoft’s convoluted file formats than anything else, but it’s something to be wary of if you need pixel-perfect document layouts.
Workplace’s cloud-based nature can also sometimes work against it. If you lose your internet connection, some features don’t work, making it a relatively poor choice compared to a desktop Office suite if you travel often.
Top-tier open-source Office alternative
Price: Free | Platform: Linux/Windows/macOS
Hundreds of open-source alternatives to Microsoft Office have been developed over the past few decades, and LibreOffice has emerged as the top dog. Preceded by OpenOffice and StarOffice, this popular software has always been nipping at Microsoft Office’s heels.
By default, LibreOffice uses the ODF (OpenDocument) format, but it’s able to competently handle Microsoft Office document formats. You can export to PDF, too. You can also change the default behavior of LibreOffice to operate like Microsoft Office.
LibreOffice works best as an offline, single-user desktop office suite. A server service, LibreOffice Online, is available if you want to create your own collaboration server for employees, but it’s a significant challenge to implement compared to public cloud-based options from Google or Microsoft.
As a free, open-source project, LibreOffice also doesn’t have the level of customer support you typically get from a commercial product. However, it’s by far the most widely used open-source Office suite, and there’s a wealth of information online for troubleshooting issues. There are a few LibreOffice certified developers, consultants, and trainers you can hire, too, should it be required.
An MS Office replacement for your mobile devices
Price: Free–$99.99 | Platform: Windows/iOS/Android
OfficeSuite from MobiSystems is a Microsoft Office replacement that’s most often used on iOS and Android mobile devices, though there’s a version of the software available for Microsoft Windows computers, too. OfficeSuite is often pre-installed on a lot of mobile devices from Amazon, Sony, and Toshiba. Using your OfficeSuite account, you can synchronize your documents automatically between your mobile devices and your PC.
There are many ways to buy OfficeSuite. The free version is essentially a document viewer, so to edit documents you’ll need the $29.99 a year personal plan. Or, you can choose the $49.99 a year family plan that’s good for up to six people, or pay $99.99 for a one-time purchase that doesn’t expire.
There are business plans too, starting at $3.99 per user a month. Most plans include 50GB of online storage, but one-time purchases only include 5GB.
OfficeSuite has good compatibility with Microsoft Office and PDF documents, support for multiple cloud services, and a user interface that closely resembles Microsoft Office. However, collaboration tools are lacking, making it a poor choice for teams.
A solid office suite that comes at a high price
Price: from $99.99 | Platform: Windows
WordPerfect is the oldest Microsoft Office alternative on our list, and predates Office by over a decade. Available only for Windows, WordPerfect remains a decidedly old-school office suite. You won’t find any cloud-based services here.
WordPerfect has a similarly antiquated pricing model. A limited Home & Student version costs $99.99, the Standard version costs $249.99, and the Professional version $339.99. This is quite expensive, though there’s no ongoing fee like with cloud-based services.
All versions include a word processor, spreadsheet program, slideshow creator, and digital notebook, but the Home & Student version of the word processor strips out features like PDF import and Bates numbering.
There are some features to WordPerfect that might make you consider it over alternatives. Notably, the Standard and Professional versions include an eBook Publisher, so you can convert your document into EPUB format.
You also get Corel AfterShot 3 (a solid photo editor) MultiCam Capture Lite (video capture software that works with multiple cameras simultaneously), and Roxio Secure Burn (CD/DVD burning software). But if you don’t need these extras, WordPerfect’s price tag looks uncompetitive.
A user-friendly but limited free MS Office replacement
Price: Free | Platform: Windows/Linux/macOS
FreeOffice is a complete office suite that’s free to download and use. It supports a wide range of popular file formats, and it’s particularly good at handling Microsoft documents, something that can’t be said for all the software in our list.
It offers a word processor (TextMaker), presentation tool (Presentations), and spreadsheet tool (PlanMaker). FreeOffice also looks a lot like Microsoft Office, to the point that it would be hard to tell them apart at a glance. This makes it easy for seasoned Office users to pick it up.
But FreeOffice tends to crash. And though it’s entirely free to use, FreeOffice is really a stripped-down version of SoftMaker Office, a paid product with a subscription model. Want full-screen mode, spell-checking with commercial dictionaries, or a thesaurus? These basic features, and many more, are reserved for the paid product.