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Worried about making the switch from Windows to an alternative operating system? People will try to scare you. They’ll tell you it won’t be the same. They’ll say your carefully worked Excel spreadsheets will never function anywhere else.

Those people are wrong. Excel is an amazing piece of software, but we live in a prosperous, software laden world The Best Windows Software The Best Windows Software Windows is swimming in a sea of free applications. Which ones can you trust and which ones are the best? If you're unsure or need to solve a specific task, consult this list. Read More where you can choose from many Office alternatives 9 of the Best Free & Low-Cost Alternatives to Microsoft Office 9 of the Best Free & Low-Cost Alternatives to Microsoft Office Microsoft Office has dominated the market of text documents, spreadsheets and slide shows for years, and for good reason – it’s one of the very best. However, there’s one drawback and that is the price.... Read More . We’ll explore some cross-platform Excel alternatives, as well as some of the online applications you can use to “bridge” your documents between software now available to us.

LibreOffice – Calc & OpenOffice – Calc

Topping the list for cross-platform Excel alternatives are LibreOffice – Calc and OpenOffice  – Calc. These open source software suites have long featured at the top of alternative Office software lists because they are worthy Office contenders LibreOffice 4.2 Brings Major Changes To The Popular Microsoft Office Alternative LibreOffice 4.2 Brings Major Changes To The Popular Microsoft Office Alternative LibreOffice (Version 4.2) offers better performance and better interoperability with MS Windows, and further lays claim to its title of the best free office suite for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Read More . Despite a split by developers, both branches of this software suite have consistently proven that their software stands up to robust testing, is feature-full, compact, and free.

LibreOffice - Calc

LibreOffice is the default office suite for many Linux distros Calligra vs. LibreOffice: Which Is The More Productive Linux Office Suite? Calligra vs. LibreOffice: Which Is The More Productive Linux Office Suite? Read More , illustrating its esteem and development quality, and is slowly making its way onto mobile operating systems to further enhance its credentials.

Operating Systems: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS (in browser), LibreOffice Viewer for Android

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Bonus: AndrOpen Office for Android – first OpenOffice Android port. LibreOffice for Android expected sometime in 2015.

Office Online

Whilst this is still strictly using Excel, it is in the Office Online version Don't Pay For Word! 5 Reasons You Should Use Office Online Don't Pay For Word! 5 Reasons You Should Use Office Online Office Online is the free and cloud-connected version of Microsoft Office. Limitations are compensated by features, useful even to users of desktop Office. Best of all is its Read More . Not much has changed. Still the same powerful spreadsheet, only you can access it from whichever operating system you’re running, expanding your choices substantially. You can visit the Office Online website and within minutes be editing a spreadsheet.

Excel Online

A Microsoft account is required to access the service, but these are free and only take a few minutes to set up and, for the return, it is worth it. Your documents are saved to a OneDrive account How To Best Use Your 15GB Of Free OneDrive Storage How To Best Use Your 15GB Of Free OneDrive Storage OneDrive gives you a healthy dose of cloud storage for free. Let's take a look at what you can do with that. Read More . You can then use Office Online as a bridge for your existing Excel documents by uploading them, where they will be handily accessible via the familiar File > Open menu, or export them for desktop use.

Operating Systems: Pretty much any with a reasonable Internet connection.

Bonus: Office Online also grants access to several additional Office Office Online Tries To Push Google Docs Aside On Chrome Office Online Tries To Push Google Docs Aside On Chrome Microsoft have just put Office Online in the Chrome Web Store. While it's not providing more features than just using Office 365, it is very useful for Chrome users. Read More desktop applications, namely Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote.

Office Online Apps

Google Sheets

Google offers its own rendition of spreadsheet software in its handy Google Docs web application Microsoft Office For Android vs. Google Docs: Which Is Better? Microsoft Office For Android vs. Google Docs: Which Is Better? Read More . It ticks all the boxes: standard and advanced formulas, importing Excel documents, formatting, and a decent range of graphing tools, whilst its online integration within the Google ecosystem is pretty handy, too.

Google Docs

As with all other Google Docs applications Google Docs Adds-Ons For Students: These 5 Will Help You Write A Paper Google Docs Adds-Ons For Students: These 5 Will Help You Write A Paper Word-processing for students has long been the domain of Microsoft Word, but the recent release of add-ons is making Google Docs an appealing free option. Read More , multiple users can update a single document allowing for rapid editing across a single workforce. As well as this, Google makes sharing each document ridiculously easy, allowing you to generate share-URLs and edit share settings dynamically. Use it as a straight up Excel replacement, as a home for your spreadsheets whilst travelling around, or as a bridge whilst migrating your operating system.

Google Docs Apps

As with Office Online, signing up to Google delivers benefits to the user, but the entire Google Docs application is free How Google Docs Can Help You Come Across As A Professional How Google Docs Can Help You Come Across As A Professional Google Docs has a huge, free repository of ready templates that you can use for almost any professional scenario. Let's take a look at five common documents needed in the workplace. Read More and is absolutely worth a shout.

Operating Systems: Pretty much any with a reasonable Internet connection.

Bonus: Offline versions now available for desktops, Android, and iOS.

Numbers

Numbers is easily the best Excel alterative for Mac users. The native Mac spreadsheet software Some Of The Best Mac Software Comes Pre-Installed Some Of The Best Mac Software Comes Pre-Installed While many Windows systems come bloated with crap you will never need or want, Mac OS X provides these following gems. Read More is powerful, feature-full and integrates well with other Mac devices, via Numbers for iOS. You can export into Excel using .xlsx, .xls or .csv, and likewise import into Numbers using the same formats, making transferring your vital spreadsheets that much easier.

Numbers

Numbers also handily works with iCloud Manage Your iCloud Storage Rather Than Paying for Yearly Upgrades Manage Your iCloud Storage Rather Than Paying for Yearly Upgrades Having trouble keeping your iCloud account trim? Don't pay for an upgrade, manage your free storage the smart way. Here's how. Read More , so working between your Mac and iPad is infinitely easy, whilst you can use iCloud to bridge important files between operating systems.

Operating Systems: Mac OS X ($19.99) and iOS ($9.99)

PlanMaker

PlanMaker is part of the SoftMaker FreeOffice suite, aimed very squarely at knocking Excel and MS Office from its perch. It can be used across Windows, Linux, Windows Mobile and Android, granting you a massive amount of potential in your working ecosystem. Unfortunately, it doesn’t yet support any Mac devices.

PlanMaker Free

It is a pretty solid replacement for Excel, offering wide range of functions and formulas 3 Crazy Excel Formulas That Do Amazing Things 3 Crazy Excel Formulas That Do Amazing Things I have always believed that Excel is one of the most powerful software tools out there. It's not just the fact that it's spreadsheet software. No, Microsoft Excel 2013 simply has an awesome collection of... Read More , whilst faithfully opening existing .xls documents for editing with a competent range of graphs, charts and visual-data tools, but doesn’t appear to have the same powerful backend as Excel.

The Android version of FreeOffice PlanMaker is relatively useful – but then again negating spreadsheets via a smartphone How to Open Excel Files on a Phone or Tablet How to Open Excel Files on a Phone or Tablet Need to open an Excel spreadsheet on your mobile device? Relax! Whether it's an Android, iPhone, or iPad, is easier than ever! Find the right app for the job with this guide. Read More isn’t my idea of fun at the best of times, even with a 5.5″ screen. That said, it is fast to load, easy to navigate and the formatting tools are quite handy. If you are in need of a useful, offline office suite then PlanMaker Mobile is worth evaluating.

PlanMakerMobile

Operating Systems: Windows, Linux, Windows Mobile, and Android

Digital Bridges

Remember during your transition, or indeed at any other time you move between workspaces you can digitally bridge your documents using cloud storage solutions. Two of our alternatives come with their own cloud storage – Google Docs and Office Online – but you can also use Dropbox, Box, iCloud, SpiderOak Cloud Storage Remains Competitive - Dropbox & OneDrive Compared Cloud Storage Remains Competitive - Dropbox & OneDrive Compared OneDrive is trying to catch up to cloud storage heavyweight Dropbox. Recent improvements include increased free storage space and raised file size caps. OneDrive has turned into a viable alternative, but is it better? Read More or any other cloud solution 19 Cloud Storage Services Recommended By Our Readers [We Ask You Results] 19 Cloud Storage Services Recommended By Our Readers [We Ask You Results] Thanks to our readers, we present a list of cloud storage services you should consider using now or in the future. Read More to keep your spreadsheets handily organised and easily accessible.

The Best Solution Is…

As you can see from our cross-platform spreadsheet software run-down, there are multiple options available for those looking to depart from the safety of Excel. Each operating system is relatively well catered for, each ecosystem homing at least one solid, powerful Excel replacement.

LibreOfficeLogo

For those switching desktops between the three major operating systems, LibreOffice – Calc offers your best, and perhaps easiest spreadsheet solution. It’s free, easy to install, has a very familiar user interface and can handle a massive range of functions, formulas, file-types, and formatting. The addition of an official Android port later in the year will expand its functionality, giving you spreadsheet access wherever you want.

OfficeOnlineLogo

We are also lucky to have two excellent online solutions in Google Docs and Office Online. Both of these applications are available to any computer with an Internet connection, across almost every single operating system. Both have excellent key features. Integration with their respective ecosystems via Google Drive and OneDrive, easily sharable files and for Google Docs, the massively important collaborative function, means that switching to an online spreadsheet service is just the same, if not better than the traditional desktop affair.

NumbersiOSLogo

Many Mac users will default to Numbers, and rightly so. It is a powerful Excel competitor that is fully integrated with the Mac OS ecosystem. Those users with additional Apple products will benefit from its iCloud integration, whilst Windows users should have nothing to fear if making the switch to a Mac 4 Things About Windows That You'll Miss On A Mac 4 Things About Windows That You'll Miss On A Mac Thinking about switching over to a Mac? It's easy to find faults with Windows. But are you aware of the things you'll miss? Read More as all files are easily imported.

What is your alternative spreadsheet software of choice? Or do you just plain love Excel? Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credits: LibreOffice Logo, Office Logo, and Numbers for iOS Logo all via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Martin Clark
    August 19, 2015 at 7:27 am

    WPS (Kingsoft) Office free version will only handle VBA for 30 days, but works fine on an important work-related application I need to use. So, they get my money. MS Office Pro Plus goes in the rubbish bin. It crashed Windows 10 upgrade twice when office "upgrades" were fetched.

  2. Rick
    March 11, 2015 at 3:20 am

    Yup, it's WPS Office.
    It's a bit limited in that it only runs on iOS, Android, Windows & Linux.
    The FREE version is fast and so far no problems with Win7 or Android 4.4.
    Saves and Opens in office formats very nicely, with only thing of note was not all macros were supported.

  3. Mahmoud
    February 15, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    You've missed the best of all, and it's a fully FREE solution.
    WPS Suite 2014 (wps.com)

  4. cysoon
    February 12, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Yes, but .. I've made several VBA scripts and will they work with all these alternatives? No....

    • Gavin
      February 12, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      Ah, that is an ongoing problem. I've never tried myself, but does Excel Online have support for VBA export/import?

    • Gavin
      February 12, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      http://blogs.office.com/2014/04/14/weve-updated-excel-online-whats-new-in-april-2014/

      Seems VBA isn't there yet, but you can use Excel Online to edit your spreadsheet and not corrupt the VBA files. Sounds like they are working on it though.

    • cysoon
      February 12, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Indeed it is and there's no solution for this. When you have Excel files with macro's then you have to stay with MS Office Excel :) or :(

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