Top five Microsoft Office alternatives

Want to buy a brand new download of Microsoft Office? Then you can expect to pay around £100 for the word processing and spreadsheet privilege.

This seems a tad expensive considering the wealth of much cheaper alternatives. Plenty of them offer the same functionality as Word and Excel for absolutely free. From Google Drive to Apache OpenOffice, here’s our pick of the best alternatives.

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1. Google Drive

Google DriveGoogle Drive is a free suite of web-based office programs that includes document, spreadsheet and presentation tools. The key to Drive’s appeal is its convenience – mobile and tablet apps mean you can use the service whenever you want. You’ll need to set up offline access to use the service without wi-fi though.

2. OpenOffice

OpenOfficeOpenOffice has been around for 10 years now and, as such, is a thoroughly serviceable alternative to Microsoft Office. It matches Office for Excel, Word and Powerpoint equivalents, and even carries a similar design aesthetic to Office 2010. This means you won’t have any trouble abandoning Microsoft for this free equivalent.

3. iWork

iworkApple fans will already be familiar with the joys of iWork, but now, providing you’ve bought an iPhone 5c, 5s, iPad Air or Mac since November you can be too, and for free. Pages, Numbers and Keynote are all adept at your day-to-day work-related needs. To get the full benefits of this suite of office programs you’ll need to own a Macbook or iMac. Nevertheless, the apps are ideal if you need to draft up a quick mobile missive.

4. LibreOffice

Libre OfficeLibreOffice is an OpenOffice spin-off that’s quickly picked up pace to become one of the best free Microsoft Office alternatives. In truth, both suites are markedly similar bar a few tweaks here and there. The ability to check your documents’ word counts in LibreOffice’s status bar is particularly useful.

5. Documents To Go

DocsToGoDesktopFor just £6.99, Documents To Go allows you to view, edit and create Word and Excel files using your iPhone and iPad. This means you can use it as a mobile alternative to Office, or as a supplement to your existing Microsoft-related activities. Either way, it’s a handy Windows-friendly alternative to Apple’s iWork.

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11 replies

  1. Google Drive – Fantastic! Reading College switched to using Google Drive and it is so much better than using Microsoft Office. It automatically saves documents and you can share the documents with other people that use Drive – numerous people can work on one doc at one time and you can see who has made what changes to it. Definitely would never go back to Office.

  2. LibreOffice/OpenOffice: Despite extensive searching I cannot find out how to run both the word processing function Writer and Spreadsheet program Calc at the same time, in the way that Microsoft Word and Excel will run at the same time, allowing one to switch from one to the other, or even see both at the same time on a big enough screen. Am I missing something blindingly obvious?

    1. Hi Gerard, yes, I think you are missing the obvious. You can have multiple windows of Calc, Writer, Impress, Draw, Base,… open at the same time. No problem. From within every LibreOffice application, you can open or create any other document type. This is much more flexible than in MS Office.

  3. Regarding iWork. If you have an iCloud account you can now use iWork in a browser. This works on PC as well. You should update the info above. Also it’s free.

  4. “now iWork … apps are free for iPhone and iPad”?

    In iTunes, the app store wants £6.99 for Numbers for either iPhone or iPad. Same again for the other apps in the suite.

    Where/how are they now free please?

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for the comment. You’re correct iWork apps aren’t universally free, but are if you have bought certain Apple devices since November 2013. Most notably the iPhone 5s, 5c, iPad Air and any brand new Mac computers.

      I’ve updated the article to make that more clear. Thanks again.

    2. Have you looked into that – I thought it was free with any new iOS device running iOS7? So both iPad minis are covered and iPhone 4s etc. Presumably even a new purchased iPad 2 would also get the fee apps. The key thing is you have to have bought one since October to qualify.

  5. Kingsoft can also be used on windows and linux – even iOS. It has an interface which can be changed to either the MS Office Ribbon or older 2003 styles and can save into DocX and PDF. Downside for windows is a bit of fiddling to replace English US with GB for spellchecking. In some respects it handles document formatting better than the excellent Open Office variations.
    I sometimes wonder about the depth of Which? research on IT issues. It seems strange to mention two essentially identical Open Office variations and miss Kingsoft.

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