Practical Ecommerce

Free Alternative to Microsoft Office

Anyone who ever priced the Microsoft Office Suite knows it represents a significant investment. A quick check of the website shows Microsoft Office Standard costs $399 and Microsoft Office Professional will set you back $449. Now, this doesn’t discount the value of the software. In fact, the functionality in MS Office represents the true workhorse of home and small business computing, namely: word processing (Word), spreadsheets (Excel), presentations (PowerPoint) and desktop database applications (Access). However, with the cost for such functionality at a premium, it comes as no surprise that a viable alternative emerged to challenge Microsoft’s position atop the office application market.

Free alternative to Microsoft Office? offers a suite of office software applications free to download for anyone with a computer, including PC’s operating with Windows or Linux. Open Office also offers a free version for Macintosh computers. Open Office offers its software freely to anyone who wants to download it. Their all-volunteer organization, sponsored in large part by Sun Microsystems, operates with the noble goal of making productivity software available worldwide in 36 languages, particularly to economies that simply can’t afford the cost of other office solutions.

The Open Office software publishes in the Open Document Format to make data universally available (instead of using proprietary file formats that, for instance, make it hard to share between Microsoft Word and Word Perfect). Open Office contains several main components, each of which help the user with specific tasks. They are:

  • Writer – This software offers a full-featured word- processing program enabling the user to type letters, brochures, faxes, even entire books. No matter what you need to type, this program lets you do it. It also offers such features as spell check, auto-correction, and thesaurus.

  • Calc – Calc offers a spreadsheet program enabling the user to create cells containing text or digits, execute simple and complex calculations, database functions, and more. Calc is perfect for accounting spreadsheets, inventory and more.

  • Impress – Impress enables the user to create “slideshow” presentations containing text and images for use in sales or group presentations. Impress also allows the user to create impressive slide transition effects and eye-catching animation.

  • Draw – Draw gives the user the ability to create simple to complex drawings using vector graphics. Users can create drawings by hand, or incorporate an array of existing shapes, arrows, lines and other graphics.

A few drawbacks

Though it does represent an excellent alternative to expensive office software suites, Open Office is not without a few drawbacks. Since they make the software available free of charge, tech support for the free version only lasts 30 days. Also, by its nature, the software is a “work in progress.” As such, you will find bugs periodically that should get reported to the Open Office website so they can fix them.

However, despite these drawbacks, Open Office software rates a “must look” if you need word processing, spreadsheets and other capabilities we’ve naturally come to associate with home and small business computing.

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. Legacy User January 5, 2007 Reply

    Are these files compatable with Office. For example if I create a slideshow with Open Office and send to someone via email can they view the slideshow or do they need to download Open Office also. Same question with Calc, or Writer.

    — *Dan Carroll*

  2. Legacy User January 5, 2007 Reply

    Open Office has terrific flexiblity and allows you to save the file in various formats. You can save text files as Word docs, for instance. You can create a spreadsheet and save it as Excel, if you want. Open Office also allows you to create a slideshow with its "Presentation" module (comes with the standard download package) and save it as a Microsoft Powerpoint file or several other ways. I received a Powerpoint presentation yesterday from a fellow and it functions well in Open Office.

    — *Mitch Bettis*

  3. Legacy User March 4, 2007 Reply

    I would like to try Calc.

    — *LOU GORDON*

  4. Legacy User March 14, 2007 Reply

    One of the top questions that Microsoft Morons ask is whether is MS compatible or a standard and the answer to both questions is YES. can save any of its documents in M$ format as well as the world wide XML standard which Microsoft is not compatible with. I find to be a far superior product to M$ Office and I use the save as .pdf rather frequently. MS Office does not export to .pdf. The only reason I can find to use MS Office over the superior would be a desire to donate $350 to Bill Gates retirement fund. It does prove a lack of IQ on the part of MS users though.

    — *Floyd Humpherys*

  5. Legacy User July 14, 2007 Reply


    — *Igor*