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Free Office SoftwareMicrosoft Office may be the most popular office productivity suite currently on the market, but don’t expect this to last forever considering the slew of new, web-based, and open-source alternatives coming every day. Recently, in only the last 2 to 3 years, not only has the number of MS Office competitors grown significantly, but also the quality of these products has increased immeasurably.

The best part about these new office alternatives is that they are completely FREE and they work with Microsoft Office, so if you or your company are locked into Office currently, you can integrate open-source software into your systems slowly and carefully. If you’re a consumer, you can now create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the fly, access them from anywhere, and open them in MS Office for compatibility purposes.

Here’s a list of six of the most popular alternative office productivity suites out there today:

Online Office Software

google docs logo 1. Google Docs – This is probably the most heard of Office competitor that most people already know about. Google Docs is completely online and includes a web-based Word Processor, Spreadsheet application, and a Presentation app. More on Google Docs features (incl. introduction video).

soho 2. Zoho – Zoho is probably the best online office productivity suite with not only word processor, spreadsheet and presentation apps, but also includes online project management, CRM solutions, web conferencing, online database with reports, online planner, group chat, wiki, and lots more. It also includes a plug-in for MS Office so you can work both online or offline. Learn more about Zoho.

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thinkfree 3.Thinkfree – Thinkfree claims to have the best integration with Microsoft Office. Also, the interface for each app is very similar to MS Office including the toolbars, icons, and functions. Thinkfree also has advanced collaboration features such that users can share, edit, and contribute their ideas remotely. More on Thinkfree (incl. video demos and screenshot).

Downloadable Office Software

staroffice 5.StarOffice – StarOffice is from Sun Microsystems and has recently been released under the Google Pack as a free download. StarOffice runs on Windows, Linux, and Solaris systems. You’ll have to download OpenOffice if you want it for the Mac.

ibm symphony 4. IBM Lotus Symphony – IBM Lotus Symphony is a direct competitor to the Microsoft Office suite because it is also a desktop application aimed at individuals and businesses. The suite consists of Symphony Documents, Symphony Presentations, and Symphony Spreadsheets. I wrote about it before, so if interested check out my IBM Symphony review.

openoffice 6. OpenOffice – OpenOffice is a multi-platform (Win, Mac, Linux) and multi-lingual office suite which is compatible with all major office suites (i.e. Microsoft Office). It includes Writer (word processing), Impress (presentation), Math, Draw, Calc (spreadsheet), and Base applications. IBM Lotus Symphony and StarOffice are both based on the code from OpenOffice.

And if that’s not enough choices, Adobe is planning on releasing it’s own online word editor called Buzzword. Plus, Yahoo may be joining the crowd soon also with it’s recent purchase of Zimbra. So if you’re still stuck on Office, be sure to check out all the new alternatives as they will probably be the future of office productivity suites.

  1. Bebob Esq
    June 5, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    SSuite Office has updated all their office suites and application this week. Give them a go and see why so many people are flocking to their website.

  2. Ado
    May 29, 2009 at 9:37 am

    You must try "SSuite Office - The Fifth Element".

    It is completely free for download, and is only 57 MB in size after installation. It also has more than 30 very useful applications.

    Download page link: ssuite5element.webs.com/thefifthelement.htm

  3. ajay
    April 3, 2008 at 4:37 am

    office simply gr8 all are way behind the ms office
    compare each every aspect office suites and derive any results

    • Mackenzie Morgan
      April 3, 2008 at 10:58 am

      They all have their ups and downs. MS Office is *terrible* for getting a nice layout. OpenOffice.org definitely beats it there, since it takes a bit from desktop publishing apps (like frames). Last time I use MS Office, it couldn't do wiki output like OOo can either. Has this changed? I know O2k7 finally caught up to OOo's bibliography support, but then they went and changed the interface so everything's in weird places.

  4. ruz
    December 14, 2007 at 8:00 am

    Hey, kalivds link seems to be pretty good. Edeskonline.com is faster than the other online operating systems / online office apps that I have used. Google Docs is also quite a stable office app, but edesk has a package of all the most wanted office tools. its worth a glance.

  5. kalivd
    October 29, 2007 at 9:29 am

    not many Operating Systems online seems to support any type of accounting or taxation softwares. a unique one that i
    found was edeskonline.com. Has anyone done a comparison on its features?

    eDeskOnline - Free Online Office

  6. yreg
    October 20, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Don’t forget that there is a native port of OpenOffice for the Mac called NeoOffice. It’s way more integrated with the system. yreg

    • Aibek
      October 20, 2007 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks for the info. I have never heard about it. )-:

      • Mackenzie Morgan
        April 3, 2008 at 10:56 am

        Lies! I mentioned in my Getting Things Done part 1 article.

  7. yreg
    October 20, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Don't forget that there is a native port of OpenOffice for the Mac called NeoOffice. It's way more integrated with the system. yreg

  8. BK
    October 17, 2007 at 8:25 am

    Your site has been twitterized by http://twitter.com/nlnnet

  9. Arvind
    October 16, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Nice post Aseem, and thanks for making Zoho a part of it!

  10. kalivd
    October 16, 2007 at 8:52 am

    No other online office suite gives you the exact user interface as Microsoft Windows with many other amazing applications which work both offline and online, applications like spreadsheets etc can be uploaded into your eDeskOnline login without logging into your account... It also has many other features which i would wish you people to explore on your own.

    eDesk Online - Free Online Office Suite

  11. surfmadpig
    October 14, 2007 at 7:25 am

    Unfortunately, at least 3 of the above programs have compatibility issues with office documents, at least word and powerpoint.

    I work in the PR department of a big company, and it is of utmost importance to me that all recipients of a press release (99% of which have MS office installed) will see it exactly as I see it in my computer.

    Considering that I don't like Microsoft, I'd really like to finally fomd an office suite whose generated files are viewed by MS office exactly as they were created. :(

    Any feedback?

    • Aibek
      October 14, 2007 at 8:26 am

      It's a tough call, I think the best way to find it out would be to test all of the listed tools.
      Generate a document with tool X and than try opening it both with MS Office, Lotus and OpenOffice. Your winner tool should generate the document that looks identical in each program.

    • Mackenzie Morgan
      April 3, 2008 at 10:54 am

      MS Office files can be modified. If you're not sending it to be modified, why send it in a modifiable format? This exactly is why PDF exists.

  12. Jake
    October 14, 2007 at 4:52 am

    Actually, StarOffice is the commercial software that OpenOffice.org was derived from. Lotus, however, was directly derived from OpenOffice.org.

    • nothingssomething
      September 14, 2008 at 7:35 pm

      that does not make any sense..... open office piggybacked on the java platform for the longest time (and currently), originally it didn't even use java, (in it's baby stages,due to speed) open office was ALWAYS first and star is the one you half to pay for, notice that there is no way to buy a paid version of open office (notice the word OPEN in OpenOffice.org stands for open sourse aka GNU GPL lisense(Using the GNU GPL will require that all the released improved versions be free software. This means you can avoid the risk of having to compete with a proprietary modified version of your own work. However, in some special situations it can be better to use a more permissive license. )

      ..........you can donate you can pay for (some awesome quality) support that basically allows you to use the beta version because the techs will usually debug the problems specific to you. star office I'm not even sure what the comparison is to open vs star if their is any. but i would think that it is a diffrent linsense system used by a company that can prostitute and advertise their software in hopes that someone actually sees it and buys it b4 they see the openoffice.

      yet another rant.......... carry on

  13. Zaine Ridling
    October 13, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Have to agree with you on these. I really like what Zoho is doing, bringing users a complete package, and using ODF. Next month they'll offer a local version for their apps which will auto-sync with your online files if you choose, so you'll have the best of both worlds.

    Meanwhile, there's nothing but good news on the OpenOffice, StarOffice, and Lotus Symphony fronts, given IBM's recent dedication of 35 full-time programmers to the code. Simply put, MS-OOXML is dead in the water.

  14. Aibek
    October 13, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    " .... please fix your website so it can be viewedon firefox"

    Huh ? It works fine on my end. What problems do you encounter?

    Aibek

  15. KUROS
    October 13, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    please fix your website so it can be viewedon firefox

    • Aibek
      October 20, 2007 at 3:29 pm

      FIXED

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