Four alternatives to Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is so common that very few computer users are even aware that there are many good, and often free, alternatives to the software. Here are four of the better alternatives.

OpenOffice.org

This has to be the number one alternative to Microsoft Office. The open source productivity tool includes all of the features offered by MS Office but for free. Version 3.0 of OpenOffice was released earlier this year and it includes full compatibility with documents created in Microsoft Office, the biggest stumbling block to switching to a new office suite. Version 3.0 even includes the ability to open the newer .docx format files created by Office 2007.

OpenOffice.org includes a presentation tool, word processor, drawing application, spreadsheet among others that can produce documents in both the OpenDocument format as well as most other popular document formats. OpenOffice.org 3.0 can’t save files into the .docx format but it can open them.

ABIWord

ABIWord is not actually an office suite, although together with other applications such as Gnumeric, it can function as a Linux office suite. On its own, however, ABIWord is a more than capable word processor that is both lightweight and runs on Linux, and Windows natively. Mac OS X support is limited. Being lightweight, ABIWord is pleasantly fast in comparison to suites such as OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office. the most recent version of ABIWord includes support for Office 2007 formats.

ThinkFree

ThinkFree is another full-suite alternative to Microsoft Office. Unlike OpenOffice.org, ThinkFree Office is not free – it costs around $50 – but a trial version is available for free. ThinkFree Office runs on Mac, Windows and Linux machines and mimics the look and feel of Microsoft Office. The developers of ThinkFree have made it their mission to make the office suite as compatible as possible with Microsoft Office. ThinkFree is also able to open Office 2007 files, just as OpenOffice.org can.

NeoOffice

Mac fans have a pretty good alternative available to them in the form of NeoOffice. The free office suite is built on the OpenOffice.org code but includes Mac-specific features that makes for tight integration of NeoOffice into the Mac desktop. Until version 3.0, OpenOffice.org never offered a native Mac version of the office suite. Which is why NeoOffice was released. With the release of a native version of OpenOffice.org for Mac NeoOffice’s popularity may wane but it is still worth checking out.

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Four alternatives to Microsoft Office