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It’s about time someone made an Office suite that can actually claim to be better than Microsoft Office. With WPS Office for Linux, Kingsoft has a winner.

We have shown you how to get Microsoft Office running in Linux through Wine How To Easily Install Microsoft Office 2007 On Linux How To Easily Install Microsoft Office 2007 On Linux Read More , but if the one thing keeping you back from using Linux is a native Microsoft Office alternative you’re in luck. WPS Office is essentially a Linux port of the Kingsoft Office suite available for Windows, and is a darn impressive clone of MS Office.

The current package, Alpha 11, includes three apps: Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheet — alternatives for the famous trinity of Word, Powerpoint and Excel. Sure: it falls short for some features, but it also includes many that Microsoft would do well to emulate.

With A Ribbon On Top

When I say Kingsoft has made a clone, I mean it. It’s missing Microsoft’s blue colour scheme, but you can even change that by switching themes if you really want.

The Ribbon UI, which Microsoft introduced with Office 2007 and continued with Office 2010 Office 2010 - Is It Any Better Than Office 2007? Office 2010 - Is It Any Better Than Office 2007? Read More and 2013, is something most workers now swear by. It makes almost every task infinitely easier with its easy interface. And WPS Office has cloned that pretty well.

WPS-Office-References-Tabs-Writer-MS-Office-Ribbon-Comparison

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And hey, if you don’t like the Ribbon How To Make Microsoft Office 2007 Look Like Office 2003 How To Make Microsoft Office 2007 Look Like Office 2003 Read More , you can switch to the ‘Classic’ view, which is akin to Office XP or Office 2003. Perfect for traditionalists.

Just like with MS Office, the default ‘Home’ tab of the Ribbon gives you some basic options to format a document, presentation or spreadsheet. Other tabs include Page Layout, Insert, Formulas, Table Style, Animation, Slideshow, Review, View and more, depending on the app you are using.

There are some tabs that aren’t in the MS Office Ribbon, such as ‘Reference’ in Writer, with shortcuts to insert a table of contents and footnotes — two tools I use very often when editing a book.

WPS-Office-Sidebar-Presentation-Colorize

What I really liked was the inclusion of a second toolbar of shortcuts on the right, which changes based on the app. So for example, in Presentation, you get shortcuts for colour schemes, effects, autoshapes and materials, etc. There’s also a Backup button here, which we will come to soon.

I didn’t really find any feature from MS Office that was missing in WPS Office. Let me know your findings below, though.

Overall, it really looks, feels and behaves like Microsoft’s popular software. And while that might not be a good thing for some, I’m all for it. Having used MS Office for so many years now, I find comfort in a similar environment rather than having to learn my way around a whole new software.

Cool Features

As I said earlier, WPS Office has a few features that Microsoft could learn from.

WPS-Office-Paragraph-Formatting

Paragraph Formatting: There’s a persistent floating button called ‘Paragraph Format’ next to each paragraph in your Writer document. Hit it and it auto-selects the whole paragraph and lets you format its layout, much like you would stretch or compress an image. Just hold one of the sides and move it to set how you want the paragraph to appear. In Paragraph Format mode, you can also select multiple paragraphs (Ctrl+Left Mouse Button) or the whole document (Ctrl+A). It’s just so easy.

Tabs: I really have no idea why Microsoft still doesn’t have this feature, but I’m glad WPS comes with it out of the box. Your documents, spreadsheets and presentations can be opened in tabs, which nest in a little bar right under the Ribbon. If you haven’t used tabs before in an office suite, they will change your work life — just like they did in browsers.

Backup Management: Sure, Microsoft has AutoSave, but this is something more. WPS Office creates periodic backups of your documents, whether you’ve saved them or not. The best part is that it actually saves them in a folder t you can go back to at any time in the future. It doesn’t matter whether your PC or the software crashed unexpectedly, that earlier version of your document is forever stored safely.

WPS-Office-Spreadsheet-Text-To-Column

Text To Columns: Another neat option was ‘Text to Columns’ in Spreadsheet, which actually was the original reason I found WPS office. I was looking for a way to quickly sort my contact list, which had a single cell for all contact names. I wanted to split them into First Name and Last Name. Text To Columns let me choose ‘space’ as a separator and sorted my list into two columns — as simple as that. You can choose characters other than a space, or even draw a line straight through the column to split it into two.

Compatibility

The biggest problem with WPS Office at the moment is that the file formats it supports are too limited. Regular DOC, XLS and PPT files are fine, as are simple common ones like CSV, TXT and HTML. But when it comes to Office 2007 files, like DOCX and PPTX, you can only read them — you can’t edit or save them. Which is a problem, because a lot of professionals today use those by default. Surprisingly, it also doesn’t support OpenOffice or LibreOffice formats like ODT.

Instead, WPS has its own file formats (WPS, DPS, ET). The only third-party format that works without a glitch right now is XLSX in Spreadsheets, which you can read, edit and save.

The inability to edit DOCX, PPTX, ODT and other file formats can be a deal-breaker for many people. The developers have recently said that they will be supporting DOCX editing in WPS Office Alpha 12, the first version of which is slated to release on September 10 2013.

WPS vs The Rest

Linux has plenty of alternative office suites. Compared to some of those, WPS Office is quite limited in what it offers. After all, it has only the big three — word processor, presentation and spreadsheets — whereas other suites like OpenOffice, Calligra and LibreOffice come with other work-related applications LibreOffice - A Free Office Suite For Windows, Linux & Mac LibreOffice - A Free Office Suite For Windows, Linux & Mac Read More such as database management (Base, Kexi) and vector graphics tools (Draw, Karbon). And if your needs are restricted to just word processing or only spreadsheets, then AbiWord (which we have reviewed Abiword - The Best Free Lightweight Word Processor Abiword - The Best Free Lightweight Word Processor Get a lightweight but not underpowered word processor. If you need a program compatible with a wide variety of file formats, Abiword might be the right fit for you. It's not as powerful as Microsoft... Read More ) and Gnumeric are much lighter, standalone programs than WPS Office.

WPS Office still has plenty going for it. It looks polished, feels like a professional software to use, and has loads of cool features that will make you never want to go back to Office 2007 or any of the other software. Really, once you get used to that Paragraph Formatting, you wonder how you ever lived with MS Office for all these years. And all for the wonderful price of free 6 Free Office Suites That Are NOT Microsoft 6 Free Office Suites That Are NOT Microsoft Read More !

WPS-Office-Writer-vs-LibreOffice-Writer

Plus, although the file format support is limited, I have to mention that the common file formats it does support now — DOC, XLS, XLSX and PPT — look almost exactly like what they do originally in MS Office, which is something that can’t be said about competitors like LibreOffice or IBM Lotus Symphony, all of which often distort the formatting of files created in MS Office.

Unless you specifically need more or less than the aforementioned three basics of an office suite, WPS Office is the best you can get right now.

Installation

WPS Office Alpha 11 for Linux is available as downloadable RPM (best for Fedora, CentOS, OpenSUSE), Debian (best for Ubuntu, Mint, Knoppix) and Tarball packages. Grab the package that’s right for your operating system, double-click it and just follow the step-by-step installation process. It couldn’t be simpler.

Download WPS Office Alpha 11 For Linux here.

 

What do you think about WPS Office? Has it replaced your default office suite or are you sticking with your current options? We’d love to know which one you choose and why in the comments section below.

  1. Bharadwaj Raju
    October 10, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    I would use it, but, seriously, its in alpha. Instant deal-breaker. However, I am looking forward to the stable version, and hope it has docx/pptx/xlsx formats.

    Really, I should try making presentations in HTML/CSS/JS.

  2. Akronix
    January 13, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    For me, the best alternative to MS office in linux.
    I can't handle myself in Libreoffice. I don't understand the GUI and I get in trouble only for try to make a little pretty/presentable my documents.
    I'm waiting for the final version!

  3. john
    December 6, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    grammar checking appears to be missing in wps. it's less clunky than libreoffice and openoffice. it's fine if you can tolerate the bugs.

    i generally prefer to use freemaker (softmaker) office, linux version, which also has no grammar checking. it doesn't have all the features (and no ribbon, tg) but seems to load and run a bit faster. i think for those who don't need all the bells and whistles it's easier to use than any of the others

    ms really needs to get on the bandwagon with free software and acknowledge that linux is a viable os and is here to stay.

    it's really nice that kingsoft has released a free (hopefully forever) linux version, but i wonder if once it comes out of alpha will it still be free.....

    off the subject final note: the wps android app seems to work pretty good too

  4. Bazz
    October 28, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Editing a .docx file can be done. Open it in libre and save it as a .doc. Then WPS allows edting of the file. I discovered this purely by accident whilst downloading college assessments for completion. [Yes, I know it is more than should need to be done, but for a free program that is compatible with a forced "standard" it is quite bearable. And I know it is relatively compatible just by the way it frustrates me: the same way all MS products used to until I changed jobs and could use linux exclusively.]

  5. Tom
    October 16, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    @Miranda:

    Thank you very much for your detailled information about SoftMaker Office!

    I used the trial version for two weeks intensely, and now bought it - it is the best office suite I ever had for Linux.

    I can switch files between my Windows PC / Microsoft Office, and my Linux Notebook / SoftMaker Office faithfully, no formatting losses in contrast to all others I tried out. Plus, it is fast, reliable and feature-packed.

    I underline your recommendation!

  6. Slamet Aprilianto
    September 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    WPS still have no equation editor..

  7. Saurabh Shabdik
    September 5, 2013 at 3:19 am

    I used Kingsoft office on a Linux mint Machine. It worked fine. But I faced problems writing in Indian texts in Hindi / Bengali Unicode. It stops working. Freezes. Otherwise its great.

  8. Scapeborgolist
    August 28, 2013 at 5:15 am

    No ODT or DOCX support! Until it handles these formats, it's essentially cripplewear, no matter how fast or good looking it is. BTW, there are a number of ways to improve the look of LibreOffice, so the comparative pictures are a bit unfair, IMHO. Still, there's real potential in Kingsoft. But these two major document formats must be well supported and seamless (in use between Word, LibreOffice and WPS).

  9. Su B
    August 27, 2013 at 11:09 am

    KS Office is no good, Libreoffice sucks so comparatively KS Office is heaven.

    Libreoffice still retains the classic menu structure where something as simple as removing space between paragraphs require extensive menu hunting.

    Also Libreoffice completely decimates layout of any document created in MS Office.

    I will tru out the Softmaker one.

  10. Andreas Schüttler
    August 27, 2013 at 6:50 am

    What about "Softmaker Office"? They released a Linux port, too.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      Thanks for bringing this one to my attention, Andreas. I didn't know Softmaker had released on Linux too. Is it good?

      I had tried Softmaker on Windows last year, but was quite disappointed. It didn't have the Ribbon, which is a dealbreaker for me in an office suite today.

      • Miranda
        August 28, 2013 at 8:55 am

        SoftMaker Office for Linux is way better than Kingsoft Office IMHO.

        Sure, it has no ribbons, but Interface is familiar to that of MS Office 2003, with several modern extensions such as tabs for multiple pages, navigation bar etc. - I prefer the good, old menues, and there's not too much of a learning curve. But that's a question of personal preferences.

        Here's what makes it superior to Kingsoft Office:

        1) Coding is very tight, the program is small and runs even faster than Kingsoft Office.

        2) Kingsoft Office is availyble in English and Chinese only - locales, dictionaries and supported standards. SoftMaker Office supports almost all languages of this planet.

        3) Kingsoft Office has problems with regional standards, e.g. spreadsheets cannot be used in Europe, because it's hardcoded to use dot instead of comma for decimal separator. It also changes Windows regional settings at every launch of any Kingsoft Office app, making big problems for other apps...
        SoftMaker Office always works completely reliable and doesn't create those quirks and oddities.

        4) Compatibility of Kingsoft Office with Microsoft Office is better than that of LibreOffice, but still far away from being considered good; I tried it out with several documents and mostly had formatting losses, couldn't open some password-protected files, had problems opening voluminous files,...
        As Word (doc, docx), Excel (xls, xlsx), and PowerPoint (ppt, pptx) represent the global standard office formats, a good alternative must be able to interoperate properly . Kingsoft isn't, LibreOffice isn't, OpenOffice isn't at all, I see only one alternative office suite which is seamlessly compatible, and that's SoftMaker Office!
        This has fantastic import and export filters compared to all others and makes Microsoft Office dispensable. They also offer a lite version of a full-fledged Linux office suite for free, try it out:

        freeoffice.com

  11. Steven G
    August 27, 2013 at 4:22 am

    I have used Libre,but I seem to always go back to Open Office. Since I use portable apps, Open Office seems lighter then Libre. i am sure that all has to do with the user interface and the amount of stuff you get with Libre. Now Kingsoft does look like really good version replica of MS Office. If I use Office I usually use the free version online. Yea not as many features but still free

  12. Rama M
    August 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    using Kingsoft Office in my Windows . working well so far . just a 30 mb file .. look at the MS Office . does same thing but more than 700mb . Bloatware .. I also use standard Libre and Open office in linux and windows ! just looking for quiet , light weight functional and free office suite for my Android (2.3.6) . anyone have idea ? suggest me . before i ve used olive office . but its not free ! ..

    • Ayush Jain
      August 27, 2013 at 6:06 am

      Hi Rama,

      I sure am going to try this. I guess Kingsoft does have an android version. Check here http://www.ksosoft.com/downloads/android.html. But on the same site I wasn't able to download the version for Windows. You may still give it a try.

  13. MikeWrites
    August 26, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    No mention of OpenOffice? Some of these features sound pretty slick. I have to say, the only really appealing thing that makes me flirt with the idea of switching is that paragraph formatting feature. I can think of plenty of times were formatting has turned into a near-violent confrontation between me and the software. haha. That feature would be incredibly useful to me.

    I'd also be curious to know how WPS handles tables, table of contents, inserts for page numbering, date, etc, as well as formatting for headers and footers. I haven't found a software yet that can do everything I need it do without occasionally burst blood vessels trying to understand why something so simple isn't working the way I'd like it to.

    Still, the hunt for the perfect software (of any kind) is growing tiresome. The software market is beyond flooded with everything from open-source freeware to robust suites. It's time-consuming to sift through everything looking for that diamond in the rough, and it's always a sure bet that some small feature that you use often will drive you nuts, despite the rest being as good as it gets.

    I got sick of spending wads of cash on software only to find those things out long ago. It's freeware and shareware for me mostly. While not exactly a word-processor, I did just buy Scrivener for it's amazing organizational features geared toward writing books and scripts of various formats. That was $40 well spent. Still, it has it's fair share of annoying quirks, too.

  14. George S
    August 26, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    If it doesn't handle the other formats, hoe can you say it's better? And what about converting macros? That's one reason why I stay with Office 2003.

  15. Dan V
    August 26, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    It's a good start. Thanks for the heads up.

  16. epiquestions
    August 26, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Excel have the text to column feature as far back as 2007 if I remember correctly

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      Oh really? I couldn't find it at all, which is why I started looking for alternatives.

    • Parris
      December 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      I don't know much about text to column, but their are delimiter-separators in MS office. Space, comma, tab, or any user inputted value can be used to separate text

  17. michel
    August 26, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    uh, my copy of Word 2007 does have a References tab. You should really check your facts before posting.

    I like Kingsoft Office, I'd probably use it if I didn't already have MS. One thing I wish they would add: in Word 2010, you can drag and drop Headings in the document navigator - a feature also present in LibreOffice - which makes organizing long documents much easier.

    How does Kingsoft handle comments and tracking changes in long documents? LibreOffice sucks at it.

    Finally, one thing that keeps me tied to Ms is excellent integration between Word and OneNote. No other competitor even has a notebook program.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 26, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      Sorry, I should have specified "Microsoft Office Starter Edition" since I was comparing that basic suite (Word+Powerpoint+Excel) with WPS Office (Writer+Presentation+Spreadsheet). The Starter Edition doesn't have a References tab :)

      I hadn't checked drag-and-drop Headings, didn't know it was available in MS Word. If the functionality is that you can select the heading in one page through the Navigation Pane and drag-drop it to another page in the Navigation pane, then no, WPS Office doesn't support that.

      Comments and tracking changes were handled perfectly. I used book chapters that were edited with several comments and tracked changes, and it was all perfect. The colours and box styles WPS Office uses are different, of course, but the core functionality is intact and works great with files that were originally in MS Word 2007.

      As I noted in the review, WPS offers only the "big three" - writer, presentation, spreadsheet.

      • michel
        August 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm

        Thanks for your reply. Do you mean individual chapters as individual files? That's quite different from one book length manuscript, especially if each file has only a few comments or changes. LibreOffice completely breaks down with a few hundred pages and six or a dozen comments and changes on each page. Word sails along.

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm

          I had originally checked only individual chapters as individual files, but since you put up this query, I just tried it out with the full book (which was those individual chapters stitched together). Total of 178 pages, size 11 Garamond -- all comments are working fine. On average, each page has about 5 comments. WPS Office took a little time to load with this, but once it was done, it's been absolutely smooth.

        • michel
          August 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm

          Thanks, that's encouraging. By the way, I'm currently collecting a large number of shorter pieces into one book-length manuscript. Because the order isn't yet determined, I decided to merge them all in LibreOffice so I could use the document navigator to shuffle them around. That works fine, but it turns out even the latest LibreOffice (4.1) still chokes on simple formatting in Word documents. So frustrating. There's still no viable alternative for professional work.

    • TechnoAngina
      August 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      OneNote generally isn't really a heavily used program and for most of the people that seem to benefit from it, Evernote seems to be the preferred tool for note keeping. I think that may be why so few suites offer full note taking applications.

      • michel
        August 27, 2013 at 1:42 pm

        Heavily used? I'd guess that's your assumption. Regardless, Evernote is a great program but it isn't OneNote and more importantly, it doesn't integrate into any other program, at least not well. As part of the integrated suite, OneNote can easily pass info back and forth - so it really does function as part of the workflow. It's better than Evernote for arranging and structuring research and notes. Evernote can only sort, you can't manually arrange material to your liking. Keeping notes is one thing, working with them is another.

  18. AriesWarlock
    August 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Never knew about Kingsoft Office, so I thought I would try it. I just found out the free version doesn't support .DOCX or .XLSX formats. Guess it's back to Libre Office
    http://www.ksosoft.com/product/compare

    • Sun
      August 29, 2013 at 4:05 am

      It seems that next alpha release(A12) will support .docx and xlsx. Information was from here: http://wps-community.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=69
      And the compare page is old, English new version(9.1.4246) from the download page support it now.

    • so-zengtao
      September 2, 2013 at 3:58 am

      Our linux version is the pro edition . The news you saw was for the windows

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