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Microsoft Office - Free Alternatives


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Hei guys! Can I get some help in finding a free option to view and minimally edit doc/xls files?


Backstory: my wife wants to do some work stuff on her personal laptop temporarily. I'd really rather not pay for Office 365/2021, also not a fan of the pirated version of these so an opensource free alternative would be the way to go.


I really dislike the usual "here's the top 10 greatest office software" sites and I don't trust most of those. I'd much rather hear from the community, if there's anyone else using something like this.



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I actually have long preferred LibreOffice Writer over MSWord going back to a decade or more ago when I found it to be the better choice for doing my thesis due to having better features and functionality that I needed. I also like the LibreOffice suite in general, and particularly for including Draw, which is quite useful for simple vector graphics, and diagrams etc. which Microsoft has no equivalent to. I would say that I have still on occasion marginally preferred Excel over Calc (at least 2007 version... the newer Office365 versions are a PITA), but only for a couple of very minor points that are likely irrelevant if it's only for more basic usage.


Another one I also tried out many years ago and thought was "OK" is WPS Office (formerly known as Kingsoft Office). I don't remember much about it, but I think at least at that time it might have tried to replicate the MS Office style more, and therefore might be more accessible to new users. Though even my mother has been an OpenOffice / LibreOffice user for many years now, so if she can manage with it, well.. 😉

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Have been using LibreOffice for years and I usually prefer it on both Linux and Windows OSes, so my vote goes to LibreOffice for sure.

The only compatibility problems with MS that I found so far is with .opt -> .ppt file conversion - it just does not work well for some reason. But if you keep the files in MS Office formats, then there's no big compatibility issues that I've seen for Word/Excel files (although I must say that my usage of office tools is quite limited)

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7 hours ago, cucubits said:

Thanks for the tips! I was actually just reading about LibreOffice when I remembered to check back here. For some reason the forum didn't show me any notifications of replies here.


Do post your views and choice after checking out these software's. The forum did not show any notification as you are not "following" this topic, check the button on the top right.

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3 hours ago, RS4 said:


Do post your views and choice after checking out these software's. The forum did not show any notification as you are not "following" this topic, check the button on the top right.


Thanks! Yeah, that was unchecked. I had assumed I followed it automatically since I created it.

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Over the past year, I've noticed that I've been using LibreOffice Calc more and more, and haven't been missing Excel 2010 (the latest version I have).  I think it started out as having LibreOffice on my new laptop because I didn't want to pay for another copy of Office for how infrequently I use it on the laptop, but at some point I installed LibreOffice on my desktop to work with spreadsheets I created on the laptop (rather than shifting formats all the time or relying on Excel's OpenOffice support), and nowadays most of the spreadsheets I create are in LibreOffice Calc, although I leave some legacy ones that are already in Excel and don't need to be updated on the road where they are.


Why am I using Calc?  One, it's stable and not laggy these days.  But I think its UI has also progressed beyond Excel 2010.  Conditional formatting works well, including for ranges.  Cell formatting is easy, select some cells and right click and choose format, and it seems like it's less error-prone to modify the ranges for formatting than it is in Excel 2010.  I also kind of like how if you're typing a formula, and have something like SUM(V43, and then use the arrow keys, it moves from V43 rather than whatever cell has the formula.  Usually, that results in fewer keystrokes.  Small things like that add up.


I think they've also done a good job organizing the menus.  It's not as cluttered as Excel 2003, so the fact that it isn't Ribbonized isn't really important.  When I first tried conditional formatting, I was able to find it under a sensibly-named menu right where I thought it might be.


Spreadsheets are the only office software I use regularly, since I write nearly all my text documents in Notepad++ or another plain-text editor.  Though I did recently update my resume in LibreOffice Writer, and it did a fine job, including exporting it to PDF.


Basically, whereas in 2010 I would have said OpenOffice isn't ready for prime time based on my playing around with it in Linux, now it seems like LIbreOffice may be.




Haven't tried Calligra yet, but I'd like to try it the next time I try Haiku.  The UI screenshots look interesting, I like how they have sidebar controls, similar to what IBM Lotus Symphony had back in the day.  Around 2008, that was my preferred alternate-office suite, due both to stability relative to OpenOffice at the time and its somewhat unique user interface scheme.


I've read some complaints about Calligra's stability online, but the reviews all seem to be several years old, so those issues may have been resolved in the meantime.

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This video provides a good overview of the best free options around:


As @RS4 mentioned above, OnlyOffice does look like a good option if you need good intercompatibility with MSOffice users, or cloud support, while LibreOffice still seems to be the most fully featured for local use. They look like the clear top two options to consider these days to me.

EDIT: Looks like the devs were paying attention too lol:


But seriously, who needs more than 1024 columns and rows anyway (if only the columns were the limitation you could simply transpose the data)?? If you really need to handle more than a million data points all in one go than you probably need to keep it in a simpler format like CSV anyway.


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