Today we will take a look at another office suite from the german company Softmaker. It includes the basic applications plus an improved version of Thunderbird to handle email. As usual, we will test the three basic components: TextMaker, which is clearly the text editor; PlanMaker, your typical spreadsheet program and Presentations, which name is very descriptive.
This office suite is available for several platforms: Windows, Linux, Android Tablets and Android Smatphones, and it claims full compatibility with Microsoft Office file types. For our tests, our main focus will be on the paid versions of the Windows applications. But wait, that means that there is a free version, right? Well, yes the company also offers a free version and we will get to that point later.
Setup for Windows software is very straightforward and this case is no exception. Just accept / yes to all prompts and you are ready to go. No issues to report here.
After Microsoft Office changed its interface years ago to introduce the Ribbon, a lot of users criticize that movement. Many complained about a lost of productivity because they should have to be re-trained in order to use the new interface. However, over the years it was gradually accepted and implemented by other Windows applications, and we consider that, as of today, it is the standard not only for office applications, but for Windows interfaces in general. Nonetheless, there were other users that refused, and still do, to use that interface and migrated to other alternatives. Softmaker Office is one of these alternatives.
When you first open any applications from the suite, you will find that the interface consists of pre-ribbon toolbars as in Microsoft Office 2003. Many people might find this interface old and dated, but when it comes to office productivity, a beautiful interface is not the most important factor to consider.
It is worth mentioning that all three applications will display opened files in web-browser-style tabs below the toolbars, so you can only have one instance of the current application open. Current Microsoft Office version opens a new instance of the application for every file open.
A new utility is added
Another thing that we notice is that there are shortcuts to any other application from the suite directly in the Standard toolbar, but there is another utility that we have not mentioned yet. It is BasicMaker, which is a script editor that resembles the functionality provided by Visual Basic for Applications in Microsoft Office. Here it seems to be available only for TextMaker and PlanMaker, as far as we can see in its manual, but it looks like a very powerful feature not available in all Microsoft Office alternatives. We will review more of that in future articles.
Install to USB
This is another feature that we find interesting, you can install a full copy of Softmaker Office in a USB stick, and carry it along with your files. You can have all your files available in any Windows PC that you need to use, even if it does not have an office suite already installed and it does not leave any trace of use. This seems like a more private alternative to work from the cloud, which is not an integrated feature in any desktop version of Softmaker Office (Android version have this implemented). With this option, you can access to your files at any location where a PC is available. In any case, if you are a Windows user and need access to the cloud (Google Drive, Onedrive,…), you could install the native software available from those platforms, create your shared folders and point to them from any Softmaker application.
As we have already mentioned, this suite is available for several platforms, but for now, we are only reporting over the Windows version. It also offers a free version that has a few limitations and even though it is offered through a different website, we will consider it in our review. Let’s see what Softmaker has to offer:
- Softmaker FreeOffice. Free.
- Softmaker Office Standard 2016. Full price: $69,95 / Upgrade: $39,95
- Softmaker Office Professional 2016. Full price: $99,95 / Upgrade: $49,95
The key differences between the free and paid options are listed in the FreeOffice website, at the bottom of the page. You also have available a 30 days trial version of the full office suite in case you want to test before buying. For testing purposes we will be using the Standard 2016 version.
Finally, with would like to add that Softmaker offers its suite free of charge to teachers, schools, colleges and universities worldwide, after proof of eligibility is satisfied. In this page, you will get more details about this offer.
We will be completing additional tests with this office suite and reporting in future articles. We believe it offers some unique features (linux version, install to usb, not expensive paid version and free version!), but if you need more information right away, your could check Softmaker websites in the links below: