Dr. Joe Recommends: Alternative Office Software

For PC users, there are good alternatives to Microsoft Office, especially for home use. I’ve used the free OpenOffice for years, but prefer its better version, LibreOffice, available for Mac, PC, and Linux. I’ve always found the word processor, Writer, to be far more stable than Word. The spreadsheet, Calc, is okay for workbooks where charting is not important. Impress is a good presentation program.

WPS Office (formerly known as Kingsoft Office) is free for home use, and has excellent compatibility with MS Office files. All of its elements, Writer, Spreadsheets, and Presentations, are notably fast. WPS uses the same keyboard shortcuts as MS Office, and has a choice of interfaces, including one that is similar to the MS Office ribbon. It works in Windows and Linux, but also has smartphone versions for Apple’s iOS and Android.

FreeOffice has good word processing and presentations elements, runs in Windows and Linux, and also has a version for Android smartphones. If you need the superior charting capabilities of Excel, you now have a different alternative from Microsoft that recognizes the multiple-device way many of us work now.

Office365 is now available for a monthly fee for multiple devices. It also comes with OneDrive cloud storage space. I use it because you can have multiple computers and devices as part of the subscription, and also download the full version to your computer very easily. There are also iOS and Android versions. Microsoft’s new strategy makes managing licenses and other issues much easier, removing one of the main reasons to seek software alternatives. But many of us have older computers in the house and in our families (does my 87-year-old mother need MSOffice? I don’t think so) that need the basics. The alternatives noted above fit the bill very well.