Many of you might think that it is not necessary to change a simple office suite, or even think about buying a different one. Why would I want to change the standard and accepted Microsoft Office? There are actually some valid reasons to do it.
- No need to use the full capabilities of Microsoft Office.
- No need for compatibility with Microsoft Office documents.
- Use of other operating system.
- Privacy concerns.
No need to use full Office
Regular or casual users of an office suite might never need Get and Transform tools (previous power pivot) of Excel, make complex formatting in a text document or create that flashy presentation full of beautiful transitions and effects. If you only use a spreadsheet to make your family budget, some personal planning or record keeping, most alternatives will deal fine with any of these tasks. For text documents, if you only create simple text files like a resumes, letters, envelopes or even a basic reports, Word is not actually needed. You can also make very decent, and even beautiful, presentations using any of the alternatives suites without any issues.
On the other hand, if you are a consultant that often receive and review documents from clients then you would probably need full Microsoft Office to complete those tasks. If you are a student and you are required to use Microsoft Office, Microsoft actually have excellent plans for education, so as long as it is provided by your academic institution, at a very good discount or even free, you may want to get full Microsoft Office and decide later if you will need to pay for it.
We understand that it will be a different story for every user, but as educated consumers that we are, it is valid to think about our need of full Microsoft Office capabilities.
A lot of people, and even corporations, discard using any other office alternative based on compatibility. They claim that they need compatibility with old Microsoft Office documents. It is true in most cases where migration from Microsoft Office is considered. But think about it for a second. If my old documents are not that complex (true in most cases), do we need that compatibility? Probably not. What about sharing with third parties? Once a company implements an office suite, sharing documents like spreadsheets, presentations and even text documents with third parties should be discouraged. There are more secure ways to share information, like PDF files. If good document management policies are in place, those cases where compatibility is needed could be minimized.
In cases where Office is used heavily by advanced users (VBA macros, database queries and power pivot, stationery templates, branded documents and standard presentations), migration could be a complex and difficult task, but certainly possible if it is managed carefully.
No Windows, only Mac or Linux
Yes, believe it or not, there are other operating systems. MacOS is, of course, very popular because it is an integral part of any Apple computer, but Microsoft Office for Macs is not the same as Office for Windows. There are so many differences that we actually consider to create another category and list it as an alternative. Compatibility between files is almost perfect, but functionality and features are not the same.
In the case of Linux, Microsoft Office is almost completely out of the equation. We said almost because there are some ways (Wine / CrossOver) to run certain versions of Microsoft Office under Linux, but you cannot expect perfection. In our opinion, it is not suitable for corporations, only for individuals with basic needs. Then again our first point arises, do I really need full Microsoft Office? If you are already a Linux user with no Windows in your life, then you have probably forgotten what Microsoft Office is.
Windows 10 has been highly criticized due to constant monitoring of user data. Yes, it can be disabled, but new updates that restore default settings are also common, so in the end, it is like using your computer becomes a fight for your privacy. Microsoft Office 365 is a service, you get a full office suite and also cloud storage. Every software made today seems incomplete if its description does not mention the word cloud anywhere, so it is a concept that has become ubiquitous to our everyday use of computers.
Let’s be honest, using cloud storage is putting your files in some else’s computer. Are you comfortable with that? Are you sure that your data is protected as claimed? How do you verify those assertions? Is it convenient? Only you have the answer to those questions. The truth is that some users still prefer to keep their files and information private, not in a some random drive somewhere. Using an alternative office suite becomes part of that decision.
How much is that?
Finally, but not less important, is the cost. How much do I have to pay for my software? Is it really my software? Microsoft started offering their Office suite as SaaS solution a few years ago. Yes, they still offer lifetime licenses, but we believe that they will stop offering that soon.
If we are evaluating alternatives, there are some of them that already have similar models. Nonetheless, there are others that still offer lifetime licenses only, so you are not tied to a subscription. We also have open source projects that give us the freedom in regards to how we use our software.
For the sake of comparison, and if you want to have a quick reference, we include pricing information for different suites in this PDF file. In one page, you could have an idea of prices for every suite listed in our categories.
We hope that you have found something useful here to make your own decision about what office suite you will use. Until next time.