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Office 365 is the evolution of Microsoft’s productivity suite. It unites the legendary Office software package with an attractive online suite. This product lets you create a document in Microsoft Word, sync it to OneDrive, and open that same document in Word Online in any web browser.
Right now, no other office suite offers the same online and offline integration. It’s what makes Office 365 worth its subscription price of $100 per year. Plus, given its advanced features, it’s indispensable for professionals worldwide.
If you want to step out of Microsoft’s shadow, however, or simply don’t want to pay, you can choose from excellent free and low-cost offline alternatives to Office. Here’s we’ll have a look at the online alternatives for Office 365.
If you’re comparing Microsoft Office Online with Google’s online office suite, there’s plenty in Google’s favor. For example, unique features like using your voice to type!
Moreover, Google Docs is better than Microsoft Word for research writing. But Microsoft Excel remains the king of spreadsheet software, despite Sheet’s “Explore” feature. Slides and PowerPoint are neck-and-neck to create presentations. So the decision to use Google or Microsoft is about what you use more: word processing or spreadsheets, respectively.
That said, Google’s office suite doesn’t work well without the internet. While you can technically use Google Docs offline by installing Google Drive, it’s clunky software.
Actually, you can have the best of both worlds. You can use Microsoft Office when without the internet, and go online with those files in Google Docs. It’s all possible with the official Google Drive plug-in for Microsoft Office.
The one problem is that Google Drive will actively convert the files to Google’s own formats. The changes are minute, but it’s an inconvenience nonetheless.
Open365 is the new darling of the tech world. It’s based on the excellent LibreOffice, a free open-source Micorosft Office alternative. And using Open365 is like using LibreOffice in a web browser.
Since Open365 is basically the full program running in the cloud, you get a lot more than what any other online office suite offers. Microsoft’s Office Online has stripped some features from its full-fledged offline suite. You won’t have any such problems with Open365 and LibreOffice.
The only gripe with Open365 is the lack of a simple plug-in for LibreOffice to sync files. In fact, there’s a separate Open365 sync client. The seamless marriage that Microsoft creates with Office 365 is missing here. And that’s actually a big problem.
In terms of convenience for everyday usage, Office 365 and even Google Drive seem better options at the moment.
Note: Open365 says it is in beta, and the beta will close on October 31, 2016. At the time of writing this article, even though it was well past the date, Open365 was working perfectly.
3. Zoho Office
Zoho is the most polished interface among all the online office suites. The company has been around for over a decade and predates both Google Docs and Office Online. It’s no wonder that they make some of the best-looking products.
Zoho impressed us with their most recent offering. Zoho Writer is as good as or better than Google Docs and Word Online. Zoho’s spreadsheets (Reports) and presentations (Show) apps also include most features any user would want. We actually reckon Zoho Show is among the best free PowerPoint alternatives.
Plus, Zoho is completely free for groups of up to 25 people, which makes it an attractive option for small offices and teams. It also focuses on collaboration, with emphasis on chats, simultaneous editing, and other team-based features. If you want to stop giving information to Google, Zoho Office is perhaps your best option.
Finally, Zoho is completely compatible with Microsoft Office files, unlike Google Docs and Open365.
One of Apple’s best-kept secrets is that its iWork suite of office apps is now available for free to anyone in the world. You don’t need to own an Apple device. All you need is an Apple ID. And we already know that anyone can create an Apple ID.
Now, this cloud-based software is going to work best on a Mac with iWork installed on it. But the good news is that it doesn’t skimp on any features in the browser version. So you can use Pages, Numbers, and Apple’s famed Keynote, which Steve Jobs made his famous presentations with.
The biggest thing going for iWork is how well it works with Microsoft Office files. The formatting stays intact, and Apple’s fonts actually make the whole thing look better.
All that said, iWork is only good for basic office suite uses. If you create complicated Excel spreadsheets or want to write a paper for school that requires plenty of research, you’re better off with one of the other alternatives here.
What Do You Use?
All said and done, let’s not forget that with the online suite, you can use Microsoft Office without paying for it. That’s a big plus. Plus, some students can get Office 365 for free. And there are other ways to get a discount on the suite. You might want to look into that instead of these alternatives.
But if you are done with Microsoft Office, we’re curious. Which software did you jump ship to, and why?