Selecting an Office Suite

Long gone are the days when Microsoft Office was your only choice for creating and reading documents compatible with other people using Microsoft Office. Now there are several free alternatives that are just as good at reading and writing MS office formatted documents as Office is itself.

Perhaps first on the list (and probably already installed if you are running Linux) is Libre Office. This program was forked from Open Office many years ago when some of the people maintaining it decided that Open Office wasn't being updated fast enough. The suite contains applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, diagrams and vector graphics, mathematical formulae and even a simple database - that covers just about everything that Microsoft Office provides except for email.

Another obvious choice is Open Office. This open source version of the original Star Office has been around for a long time. It has the same core functionality as Libre Office but is missing a few of the fancier features and is updated a lot less frequently - making for a more stable less bug prone office suite.

If you are looking for an online alternative to Microsoft Office then Google Docs may be what you are looking for. This suite is not as full featured as the others with only word processing, spreadsheets and presentations but it does have additional benefits such as you not having to install it and it making sharing documents with other people much easier as you can store the documents directly in the cloud. Integration with OneDrive and GMail is built in.

There are lots of other office suites around and one of these others may be just what you are looking for. I would recommend though that unless the alternative office suite that you choose has features that you consider essential but which are not available with any of the above suites that you choose one of the three that I have mentioned. Each of these three is a well established office suite that is compatible with most if not all Microsoft Office files and provides mostly equivalent functionality to what MS Office provides. In some cases these alternatives have additional features that MS Office itself doesn't provide.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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