Niner Tech Tips Episode 1: Microsoft Office Alternatives

The beginning of the school year is a fantastic time not only to pick up class textbooks, but to also pick up new computer hardware for classes. Whether you pick up a new tablet, laptop or desktop computer, an office suite, such as Microsoft Office, is key when striving to perform well in school. However, after spending lots of money on both books and a new device, the cost of Microsoft office might just not be in the cards at the moment. Thankfully, there are fantastic alternatives for all types of devices whether you have a tablet or computer.

The first of the office alternatives is LibreOffice. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. LibreOffice is designed to be a free office suite with the GNU philosophy and provides tools such as a writing, excel and presentation software completely free. LibreOffice also provides access to other office components that deal with formulas, databases and drawing. The overall feel of LibreOffice should be familiar to computer users that have used older versions of Microsoft Office before 2007. While not horrible, LibreOffice doesn’t have the greatest compatibility with documents saved in .doc and .docx which can cause formatting issues when writing important assignments.

The second office alternative, Google Drive, is seen as a cloud service, however, Google’s online system allows users to make word documents, spreadsheets and presentations all in their favorite browser. While not exactly feature or compatibility rich, this simple office alternative allows for the unique ability to share your documents online and even collaborate on the same document in real time. iPad, Android and Chrome OS users can even download an app for editing their documents offline. Google Drive is constantly evolving with new features for their office tools, so it can only be a little bit more time until we see even more evolution for this service.

This alternative is completely Apple exclusive. Apple’s iWork suite includes Pages, Numbers and Keynote for iOS and Macintosh computers. Whether using iWork on your iPad or Mac, iWork brings a unified office suite that provides a number of fantastic ways of getting the job done. Not only providing native cloud support for saving import documents, iWork applications also have handy templates that can be used to save time when working on a deadline. While iWork does cost money, any Apple iDevice or Macintosh computer purchased brand new or refurbished after October 2013 is eligible for free downloads of the iWork suite, which makes this option for Apple user a no brainer.

The last alternative is available for Windows, Linux, iOS and Android devices. WPS office, which stands for Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheets, is a free office suite developed by Chinese tech giant, KingSoft. WPS Office has a very similar look in that of a master ribbon in the left hand corner of the screen that shows many different options. WPS Office’s look can also be changed by the user in real time which also brings since of understanding if you have used Microsoft Office in the past few years. Unlike LibreOffice, WPS Office has better compatibility with Microsoft Office formats. When looking at the tablet version of WPS Office, this version brings about native document syncing with your favorite cloud service as well as support for custom templates.

As mentioned in this tech tips episode, these Office alternatives can be very beneficial for school. While a majority of the software listed are free, some are not. Make sure to do research beforehand on what office suite you plan on using.


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