Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office

As a small business owner, purchasing office productivity software from Microsoft can be painful.

Luckily, there are free options available that work REALLY well.  I will look at two here:  Open Office and Google Docs.  But first, here is a list of what I think the free options need to fulfill to be a viable option for the small business owner:

  1. A word processor similar to Microsoft Word.
  2. A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel
  3. A drawing program similar to Microsoft Visio
  4. A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint
  5. The ability to save documents in PDF format.
  6. The ability to save documents in Microsoft format and read Microsoft formatted files (optional for me, but, essential for those in the corporate world or with collaborators who use Microsoft products)

Open Office (OpenOffice.org)

open office logo

I started using Open Office many years ago and still use it today (even though I am drifting more and more to the cloud).

The latest versions of Open Office are very robust and easily interface with the world of Microsoft.   I use Open Office daily for invoices and spreadsheets for income vs expenses for JBB Cleaning Services.

Here is a screenshot of the features offered by Open Office taken from their web site:

open office description

So let’s see how Open Office stacks up to my feature criteria for a free office suite:

  1. A word processor similar to Microsoft Word. (Writer)
  2. A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel (Calc)
  3. A drawing program similar to Microsoft Visio (Draw)
  4. A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint (Impress)
  5. The ability to save documents in PDF format. (Yes)
  6. The ability to save documents in Microsoft format and read Microsoft formatted files (optional for me, but, essential for those in the corporate world or with collaborators who use Microsoft products) (Yes)

Open Office meets all of my feature requirements.  And the price is right….FREE.  🙂

Google Docs (Use your Google log in)

google logo sort of

In my old business (which I will hand over to the new owner on Dec 31, 2014), and as TechyMike, I have used, and will continue to use, Google Docs almost exclusively (having switched from Open Office slowly over the past few years).

My invoices, drawings, signs, documents, presentations, and collaborations are all done via one or more of the Google Docs programs and stored on Google Drive.  And the BEST thing (other than not worrying about backing up my work) is that I can continue to work, and collaborate, from my SmartPhone using the Google apps for Docs, Sheets, Slides, and, Drive.

Awesome!

Enough with unbridled enthusiasm……How does Google stack up to my more objective feature requirements?

  1. A word processor similar to Microsoft Word. (Docs)
  2. A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel (Sheets)
  3. A drawing program similar to Microsoft Visio (Drawings)
  4. A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint (Slides)
  5. The ability to save documents in PDF format (Yes)
  6. The ability to save documents in Microsoft format and read Microsoft formatted files (optional for me, but, essential for those in the corporate world or with collaborators who use Microsoft products) (Yes)

Per #6…Google Docs translates Microsoft documents to Google Docs format, but, does not translate Open Office documents.

google works with word

Summary

Small businesses need to save money.  Using free office suite software makes a lot of sense so you, as a small business owner, can use the money saved for marketing and advertising.

TechyMike bc snip

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