Microsoft OfficeWhen most people think of creating a document or a spreadsheet, they reach for Microsoft Word or Excel. They are great tools and are installed on almost all computers. In addition to creating documents and spreadsheets, you can also use Powerpoint to create presentations. However, as convenient as these programs are, they can be costly, especially when you need multiple licenses for each of your employees. Did you know that there are free alternatives that can do almost everything you need? Here are a few of my favorite alternatives to Microsoft Office.

Google Docs: Google Docs is an online, albeit a stripped down, version of MS Office. You don’t need to install anything on your computer and can run directly from your browser. All you need is a Google (or Gmail) account to access the Google Docs. In addition to being free to use, you can allow multiple users to work on the same document with you (wait for it…) at the same time!

Zoho Docs: Zoho is a company that is not well known, but their suite of offerings is impressive. They have an office suite that is similar to Google Docs, as well as CRM, project management and invoicing software. As with Goog’s offering, Zoho Docs is also available online for free.

Open Office: Open Office is the most similar to MS Office in that you have to download and install the software to your computer. The interface is similar and is very intuitive. Although all documents are by default stored in the ODF (Open Document Format), you can change the settings to match the same file types as MS Office (eg.doc or xls). This comes in handy when sharing files between users.

There you have it, 3 very good alternatives to MS Office. Google Docs and Zoho Docs allow you to create your documents on any computer with a browser, and then retrieve it later from any other computer. Features are being added all the time and best of all, no upgrades are required. Open Office provides a more feature rich experience and the added comfort of knowing that it will be available even when you don’t have internet access.

Have you tried any of these apps? Which do you like and why? Let me know in the comments.

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