What is the Best MS Office Alternative?

December 17, 2019 | Posted by: Meghan Donovan
What is the Best MS Office Alternative?

When Microsoft unveiled their Office software in 1987 it opened up many doors for businesses and corporations, but in 2013 MS Office 365 was born as Microsoft tried to keep pace with the new era of cloud-based productivity and office suites.

Now there are many different competitors on the market, all offering apps similar to the industry benchmarks of Word, Powerpoint and Excel.

Whether it is because of the high cost of Office 365, the fact that MS Office is not quite as agile in terms of collaboration, many businesses are making the switch to a MS office alternative.

If you're considering a change, this article explores the best MS Office alternatives so you can make the right choice for your business.

MS Office Alternatives Ranked

1. G Suite

G SuiteThe number one spot is given to G Suite for a variety of reasons.

First of all, most of the applications within Google's suite of productivity office apps are available for free automatically, so you're probably familiar with them, and can test them out easily to see if they'll work for you.

G Suite is offered at a low rate, starting at only $6 per user, per month. This connects all users in one organization with a set of administrative tools businesses love, and it's a cloud based solution, which enhances security for your business. Working in the cloud also means that work is automatically saved in real time, takes up no space on your devices, and requires no downloads.

Google’s office suite is comprised of  Docs (word processor), Sheets (spreadsheets), Slides (presentations) as well as Calendar, Drawings, Forms and more. These are all completely comparable to the offerings you may be more familiar with from Microsoft Office. What is also very exceptional regarding G Suite is the ability to use add-ons that are built by either Google or third parties. These extend the functionality of G Suite greatly, and allow you to customize these tools to work better for your business.

Related: G Suite vs Office 365: In-Depth Comparison & Buyer's Guide

For single users, these apps can be used at no cost (though there are reasons to consider a G Suite license for individuals), but for corporations, the purchase of G Suite offers many great benefits for business. These include group email accounts through Gmail, Calendar, conference calling and much more.

G Suite also comes in at number 1 due to its ability to support a variety of operating systems such as: Windows, maxOS, Linux, Android, iOS and any operating system that has access to a web browser.

But more than anything else, G Suite surpasses Microsoft when it comes to collaboration. In today's connected world teams work from different offices, remotely, or in different time zones, and G Suite is the best suite of office products when it comes to collaboration and sharing, hands down.

2. Office Online

Office OnlineIf you are someone who would like to use a Microsoft-made office app, Office Online can be a great alternative. Office Online works in your web browser, and you can log in through your Microsoft account.

There are cloud-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Sway (presentations), Flow (automate tasks) and more. There is Skype integration and Chrome users can install using an extension.

Platforms supported by Office Online are: Windows, macOS, Linux, and other operating systems with access to a web browser (similar to G Suite).

One of the negative aspects of Office Online is that there are no free features, everything comes at a cost. It also carries the same interface as MS Office 2016, which (depending on your preferences) may or may not be a good thing. This is probably the most comparable alternative to Microsoft Office's desktop apps, but still has a few features that are not up to par with G Suite's cloud-based apps.

Building a product for the cloud (as Google has done) and adopting a product to work in the cloud (as Microsoft has done) are inherently different, and as you use G Suite and Office Online side-by-side, you can tell the difference.

3. LibreOffice

LibreOfficeLibreOffice wins the number 3 spot for two main reasons.

The first is the fact that it is free, and the second is that is works without an internet connection.

LibreOffice runs on Windows 10/8/7, Linux, Mac OS X, and Android (but only for viewing documents). It is specifically a popular choice for Linux users, as it gets regular updates and has a few different formats that it saves in. 

These are a few good features in LibreOffice as it is very comparable to MS Office, but there are a few issues as well that do not measure up to G Suite or even Office Online.

First, the default document format is Microsoft Office formats. It can be seen as a good option for Windows users over MS Office, but LibreOffice is also slightly outdated. For some people, the fact that it is not incredibly commercial and complicated might be something you prefer. This is not comparable to G Suite, but for a free option it gets the job done, so if you're looking for a free option and don't want to use Docs, Sheets, and Slides for free, then try LibreOffice. 

Related: LibreOffice vs OpenOffice Comparison

4. Zoho Workplace

ZOHO WorkplaceAlthough Zoho is available as an add-on for G Suite, is is also operable by itself.

This office solution is best for small businesses and individuals or freelancers, but has attracted big clients such as Nike and BBC.

Zoho is not without downsides, and for us it's the learning curve, which can make Zoho challenging to use at first. This is due to it’s visual being very different than other office suites. Zoho includes a site creation tool, file management solutions, and collaboration tools. There is a free version of Zoho, but you will need to go through a sign up process in which you provide proof of an existing business domain.

In the end, Zoho Workplace may not be worth all the extra loops you will need to jump through not only to sign up, but also to learn to use this software, but once you're set up and used to using it, it's a good alternative to MS Office.

5. Apple iWork

Apple iWorkMac users have an extra option in Apple iWork, but this suite is only available on macOS. One reason why this MS Office alternative is popular is because it is free of charge.

iWork has a basic word processor, spreadsheets and presentation software. It is incredibly simple to use, and is a good option for a small office, sole proprietor, or single freelancer. If you do not need many added features, then iWork can be a good option.

There is also iWork for iCloud, which is a cloud based version of iWork. This is available for anyone with an Apple ID.

Apple iWork can be seen as a bit basic (it is), and not ideal for a growing business (it isn't). But for individual users, and  those specifically interested in using Apple products, this is a good option and worth including as an alternative to Microsoft's suite of office products.

Choosing the Best MS Office Alternative for Your Business

Although there are many different options on the market as an alternative to MS Office and Office 365, none really compare to G Suite.

This is mainly due to the fact that there are endless features within Google's suite of cloud-based productivity apps, as well as numerous integrations and add ons from third parties.

The ability to try G Suite for free, is also appealing. As long as you have an internet connection, using G Suite is the best option for your business, or personal use, as an alternative to Microsoft Office products.