The Best Office Alternatives for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Since its first release in 1989 – at that time exclusively for the Apple Macintosh – Microsoft Office has become the industry standard, not least due to the enormous reach of Windows. The “original” from Microsoft therefore holds the most market shares, as a study by Webmasterpro determined in January 2010.

Among German users, Microsoft Office ranked first by a wide margin (71 percent), followed by OpenOffice including all derivatives based on it (21.5 percent). The international comparison shows that common alternatives enjoy less reach in other countries. The market shares of Microsoft Office are significantly higher in Great Britain (80 percent), Austria (85 percent) and the Netherlands (88 percent), for example.

Microsoft Office alternatives for Windows, Mac and Linux

In addition to OpenOffice, there is also a whole range of other exciting alternatives to the Microsoft Office package. (Screenshot: Apache OpenOffice)

If you want to resist the market, you have the choice between several alternatives. These include OpenOffice and LibreOffice, but also less known software such as NeoOffice or FreeOffice. In the context of this article we compare these offers and give a final recommendation.

Apache OpenOffice – The standard solution among the office alternatives

The free office package “Apache OpenOffice” lives up to its name: It is available free of charge for all common systems, including in German. Included in the download are the programs Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base and Math. As the name suggests, Writer is the counterpart to Word. Excel will be replaced by Calc and PowerPoint by Impress.

OpenOffice is the basis of further projects in the area of alternative office suites. A spin-off of the project is for example the Microsoft Office alternative LibreOffice.

LibreOffice – The counterpart to Apache OpenOffice

Following Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems in January 2010, leading members of the OpenOffice community established The Document Foundation. Under this name they developed OpenOffice further, due to missing name rights under the title “LibreOffice”. Meanwhile LibreOffice is one of the best known office alternatives, especially due to the successive integration into the most common Linux distributions, and is functionally comparable to the OpenOffice further developed by the Apache Foundation.

LibreOffice is available for all common operating systems and includes the programs Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base and Math.

SoftMaker FreeOffice – Free Office Alternative for Windows and Linux

SoftMaker FreeOffice, a free alternative to Microsoft Office, comes from the tranquil city of Nuremberg. It contains the programs TextMaker, PlanMaker, Presentations and runs on Windows and Linux computers. The paid version SoftMaker Office offers an integrated spell checker, a synonym dictionary and a formula editor for 69.95 Euro. SoftMaker Office Professional also offers an Outlook replacement, a Duden correction and integrated Duden dictionaries for 99.95 Euros.

With SoftMaker Office Mobile, there is also a version for Android smartphones that, according to the manufacturer, “displays all Office documents exactly as they look on the PC”. It is also free of charge, but can be upgraded to “Softmaker Office HD” for 22.99 Euro. Softmaker Office HD offers the existing functions on larger displays, i.e. Android tablets.

Apple iWork – The office alternative from Cupertino

“Apple iWork” is the name of Apple’s office alternative. It contains the programs Pages (texts), Keynote (presentations) and Numbers (tables). The software has also been available for mobile devices since May 2011. The internet-based supplement iWork.com was discontinued in July 2012 and integrated into the in-house platform iCloud.

Apple iWork has been free for iOS device buyers since September 2013. The same applies to Mac buyers since October 2013.

NeoOffice – OpenOffice specifically for Mac OS X

The office suite NeoOffice is also based on OpenOffice, but only runs on Mac OS X. The included applications are comparable to OpenOffice and LibreOffice, but NeoOffice still offers some special features: By focusing on one operating system, the developers were able to improve performance – a frequent criticism of OpenOffice and LibreOffice – and integrate additional functions, such as a full-screen mode.

WPS Office

In addition to mobile versions for iOS and Android, WPS Office * (formerly Kingsoft Office) is also available in desktop versions for Windows and Linux. The user interface is very similar to that of Microsoft Office. Thus the change is to be facilitated for Microsoft users. WPS Office consists of a word processor, a spreadsheet and a presentation tool. A free version is also available for Windows, but some functions are missing. The paid Professional version for Windows costs 79.99 US dollars. Optionally, WPS Office can also be purchased in the reduced premium version for an annual fee of 29.99 US dollars.

Google Drive

In fact, Google Drive is of course a cloud storage service, not an office suite. However, with Google Docs, spreadsheets and presentations, the service now offers all the important office functions in the cloud. Thanks to the web interface, it doesn’t matter which desktop operating system you use, as long as you have a reasonably up-to-date browser. Chrome extensions allow you to work offline on your documents. The disadvantage is that all your documents are stored in the Google cloud. If you have problems with this for privacy reasons, you should switch to one of the other Office alternatives.

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