If you’re looking for a new office suite for your computer, why fork out for Microsoft Office when there are free alternatives that are just as good? Guest author Thomas Roberts, aged 10, looks at the options.
Everywhere I go, I see people using Microsoft Office.
Schools, works, homes, pretty much anywhere with a computer will have Microsoft Office installed.
But the owners of the computers must have had to pay a lot (or get freebies from Microsoft, as is often the case with schools) as Microsoft Office is very expensive.
It costs £60 a year for a 1-PC Office 365, more than £80 a year for 5-PC Office 365, and over £100 (one-off) for the most basic Office 2016 plan.
Businesses may have to pay even more for Office Professional, which costs just under £300.
Microsoft Office alternatives
If you’re looking for a new computer but the Which? Best Buy (or otherwise) you really want doesn’t have Microsoft Office pre-installed, there are free alternatives out there.
Google Docs is one example. Another is LibreOffice, which is available for Windows, Mac and Linux (it’s usually pre-installed on Linux).
It also has a viewer (can edit, but you need to enable experimental features) for Android. This is available on Google Play, F-Droid and as an APK download from the LibreOffice website.
LibreOffice can do all of the things Office can do: there’s an equivalent for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, etc, and it can edit PDFs.
The UK government use the format that LibreOffice uses (OpenDocument Format) to publish their documents.
It does this so as many people as possible can read and access its documents without having to pay the hefty price that Microsoft demand.
Using OpenDocument Format
ODF isn’t a specialist Linux-only format, so why aren’t more of us using it?
Well, I think there are several reasons why.
Firstly, I don’t think many people are aware there are alternatives to Microsoft Office out there.
Secondly, they worry about compatibility issues.
There are some issues, mainly with things like fonts, bullet-point styles and images. But if you’re running Windows, you’ll be able to use Microsoft fonts that work on Word, and you can manually install MS fonts on Linux.
Generally, ODF documents are perfectly readable on Microsoft Office and vice-versa.
Lastly, many people think that alternatives aren’t nearly as user-friendly as Microsoft Office, but this isn’t true.
If you’re used to Microsoft Office then LibreOffice should be easy to get used to (especially if you enable the experimental NotebookBar, which is similar to the MS Office Ribbon).
If you’d prefer not to have your sensitive documents in the Cloud or you just don’t need it, then LibreOffice is a perfect alternative.
This is a guest post by Thomas Roberts, aged 10, who visited the Which? offices in Paddington last week. Thomas has read Which? for two years and has successfully advised his family and others on various purchases. His visit was a belated Christmas treat.
Do you use an alternative to Microsoft Office or are you firmly tied to it?