We are back to take a look at WPS Office (formerly known as Kingsoft Office), a really complete office suite from Kingsoft Corporation (WPS Office is a subsidiary based in Palo Alto).
It is available for PC and Linux, and there are also mobile versions for Android and iOS. They also offer an ad based free version with small limitations, but for purposes of testing we will be using their fully feature Professional version. It includes three applications with very descriptive names: Write, Spreadsheets and Presentations. As any other Microsoft Office alternative, they claim high compatibility with Microsoft file types and it is certainly very impressive, not only how it handles files, but also with a very refined interface that closely resembles the Microsoft Office suite. This is a plus when migrating from Microsoft products, because previous users of the standard office suite will not have to relearn a new interface to be productive.
As with any other Windows software, after you make your purchase you will receive an email with your code and a link to download the software. Setup was smooth, no issues there. The only thing that we notice is that in order to make VBA available, you will need to install one additional package. We will take a look at this functionality later.
It has a modern ribbon interface by default, but the interesting part is that you can change it to a more classic office-2003-style if that is your preference. As we mentioned in previous articles, Microsoft was highly criticized when they introduce the ribbon, but over the years it has become the standard. That does not mean that there are user with other preferences, so it is nice to have the choice. It makes us wonder why Microsoft did not follow a similar approach when they radically changed the interface. We can access the options shown below by pressing the t-shirt icon on the upper right side of the main window.
As you can see in the image below, the interface looks really clean and modern, it also shows different documents in browser-style tabs, so you only have one windows open per application.
We have the option to modify how to start the program, with a new document or with a view of online templates as shown below:
Spreadsheets also offer a good selection of templates:
You can even find some popular ones between Excel users, as the Family Budget Planner from Vertex42 in the image below:
Interface is consistent between applications, tabs show new documents as we can see in the next image:
The last software from this suite is Presentations, let’s see its interface:
WPS office comes with a powerful set of features. The most important that we notice is that it includes VBA (only Premiun and Professional version). Yes, it is not a VBA clone, it is Visual Basic for Applications, the same product from Microsoft. Although it is the usual VBA editor, we noted that WPS Office ships with Visual Basic 6.3, and the last version of Office 365 includes Visual Basic 7.1. We believe that Kingsoft must be paying some kind of special license to Microsoft that allows them to resell this specific version of VBA.
A lot of times when a person, group or corporation talk about migrating from Microsoft Office, they will ask for VBA support. This is exactly what you get here, full VBA, macro recording, developer tab, usual VBA editor with intellisense, you will get everything. With this move, WPS Office removes one important barrier to consider it as a true Microsoft Office alternative. The only thing that is worth to mention is that, although you get VBA, object models of WPS applications may differ from the object models of Microsoft applications, so for your existing code, some adjustments might be necessary. We will test this further in future articles.
Other important feature included is to work from the cloud. They have the option to get a subscription service, similar to what Microsoft does with Onedrive, but a lot cheaper and with far less space (they only offer 1GB). Even though we consider that cloud storage seems tiny by today standards, you can control what documents will be synchronized with an option called File Roaming. If you only need some simple documents, spreadsheets an presentations synchronized, it’s still a good option considering the price.
To close this brief overview of WPS Office, we will take a look at the options available. Windows version comes with three options:
- Free version. Ad supported and it does not include split and merge PDF, Word and PDF Signature and VBA.
- Premium version. Subscription based $9.99/3 Months or $29.99/Year.
- Professional version. $79.99 Lifetime license (3 years services). Does not include cloud storage.
They also offer a Linux version that is equivalent to the Free version in Windows. This version has gained good reviews from Linux users because it is highly compatible with Microsoft Office file types and it has a modern interface.
Finally, you can also have free mobile versions in your iOS and Android devices. It is worth noting that these versions offer integration with cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive, so with the right set of applications installed in your desktop, you could get a good cloud storage solution.
As always, we hope that this overview helps you to make a good decision regarding your office suite or to document a migration of larger scale. We will come back with more detailed reviews very soon, so please stay tuned.