Best Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office


I have been using Microsoft Office for almost forever. Since the 90s, Office has been the dominant office productivity suite. Microsoft was to office work what Adobe was to graphics. At that time, nothing could compare to either of them. Even though they both cost money, there were really the only options back then. They were so prevalent in both schools and companies that everyone was using them and it was a standard to know both of them. No one ever asked about any alternatives as these companies have become household names. They both worked really well. Microsoft and Adobe created products that everyone used and they were considered important skills for everyone to know. Microsoft Office has Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These were very popular back then and still are but now we have other alternatives available. The same goes for Adobe with Photoshop and Illustrator. Now with Photo Pea, we have a free online version of PhotoShop. With Google Office and OpenOffice, we have both an online and office version of Microsoft. It might seem a bit inconvenient to use both an online and offline version of Microsoft Office. Why? I will explain why in this article. The topic this time is how I replaced Microsoft Office after so many years. With free alternatives that work well enough, it was time.

Microsoft Was Good: But There is No Need For MS Office 365

Again, here are with paid subscriptions that insist that we must pay for some basic office programs. Microsoft Office 365 is just another paid subscription to use Microsoft Office. Much like Adobe Creative Cloud, eventually everyone goes on the cloud and makes everything paid. This was expected because this was to ensure that DRM is able to control legitimate software downloads. I already talked about this before in the case of PhotoShop but again it happens to Microsoft because this is to protect software and enable it to be licensed to people properly. I understand, companies need to protect their property. Of course, competition is going to attract those who do not wish to pay the high prices of both Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud. The best part is that we no longer have a monopoly on software as we did in the past. As I mentioned earlier, we pretty much had to use Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite because those were the most popular office and graphic design programs back then.

Why Do You Even Need Outlook?

I never really understood why people used Microsoft Outlook. This probably has to do with being in the Microsoft ecosystem just like how Google and Apple have theirs. Just seemed like to me that you could just get a Gmail account and that would be your e-mail address right there. Not too many people I know even have an Outlook email address. Probably has something to do with their video game console Xbox and how they require an Outlook email to register for an account. The once dominant Microsoft with Windows and Internet Explorer has made the way for Google and Apple. Windows is still a strong operating system because of all the programs that were built for it over the years. One has to wonder when Android catches up, can it replace Windows. Microsoft lost the browser war to Google’s Chrome. Will Microsoft also lose the operating system war to Google’s Android. Only time will tell and this is why I enjoy writing these articles because it helps us think about the past and how they might predict future trends and outcomes. Anyway, long story short, Microsoft Outlook was one of those programs in the MS Office suite that I never really got into. Seems like a program will a lot more features than you really need

Google Office: Just as Good As Microsoft Office, Documents Just Works and It Is Free

I have been using Google Documents to write these articles and I really appreciate the simplicity of it all. Compared to Microsoft Word, I do not see a need to use Word anymore. A lot of the features that I used to use in Word, I no longer do. Things like headers and footers, table of contents, outlines, tables and images are not things that I really need anymore in Documents. Documents seem to have some of these features but I really just need something to write. Since I am taking these articles and adding them to my WordPress blog, I really just need something to get my words down. Many of these extra features are already in WordPress so I let WordPress handle it. Let WordPress be WordPress and let Documents be Documents. In other words, let each part of your blog handle what it does best.

Getting the Words Out Now, Images and Video Might Follow Later

Later on, I might think about adding not necessarily images but maybe infographics to my articles. Since SEO likes actual text more than images and videos, I am more focused on writing than I am with images and videos. Also, consider the amount of time that it takes to create an infographic and a video. Much, much longer than just writing out some words. This is why when you are starting your blog, you should focus on just writing your articles without images and videos. Search engines can use alt text to read images but it is not just about a line of alt text. You also have to find the right images to tell your story to your audience. You have to get your image sized properly and optimized. All of these steps take time. Even more so with a video. How long does it take to record a video and edit it? Search engines also cannot read the audio inside a video. So you really have to think about making the most of the time that you dedicate to your blog and just write at the beginning. Get your knowledge out in words and then when you gain traffic try for image and video. That would be the time to repurpose your content in other formats like infographic images and video. So this is why I like Documents, simple and easy. 

Updating Videos Can Be a Bit Tricky Compared to Articles

Publishing a text article is a lot easier to maintain than a video. Just think about spending hours on your video and then you finally get it published on YouTube. Let us say that you want to update your video. What do you do? Do you just create a new video with the update? You can update your video but when you upload it back to YouTube, you cannot just simply overwrite your same video again. Why? Since you have a video that is already published and collects statistics, data and comments, you cannot just overwrite with an updated version. If you do, you will lose all of that data. You would have to publish a brand new video that has the update. This is a bit clunky and articles do not have this issue because you can just update it without creating a new article. This is why it makes more sense to stick with articles at first and then think about videos later. Plus, articles load faster unlike videos that buffer and are typically larger in size than a simple text article. So I felt like I had to mention this because I brought up Microsoft Word and Google Docs. These are not the things that people think about but they are important because the medium that you present your knowledge is very important.

Update: How Do I Feel About Dictation to Write Articles Now?

I tried writing articles while-on-the-go using dictation and it worked out well when I started out. I really needed to get articles out faster and speaking my words really helped. I wrote an article about my experience using text-to-speech in Documents. Overall, I had a good experience with using my voice to write documents. I think that if you have time to sit down and write, I still recommend that. If it has been a while and you want to get more content out, then try dictation. I feel that dictation is not only good for writing while you are out and about, but it is a good chance for you to practice your enunciation. This is good for when you do presentations and need to explain your ideas in a clear voice. If you have a tendency to talk fast, then you can practice saying your words slowly and clearly. Making sure that you pronounce every single syllable and not just slur your words together. You really are doing two things at once with Document’s dictation feature. You are writing your articles and practicing your enunciation.

Google Spreadsheets is Decent Enough Compared To Excel

Microsoft Excel is one of my favorite programs to organize data into tables, rows, columns and cells. I am a very organized person being a web developer. All data records have to be categorized in a way so that they are both complete and easily found. This means that the data needs to be sortable and filterable. A spreadsheet is pretty much just a database and I have spent several years using databases. I have been running queries against databases for as long as I can remember. That is probably why I love Excel so much. Even though Excel is not as sophisticated as an actual database, it still has a lot of similar properties. For example the Excel function VLOOKUP is basically an inner join between two sheets where you bring data of both sheets together via an ID. The only thing that I have noticed with Spreadsheets is that it works great for sharing your data with other people since it is online, sharing with others is already a part of using Spreadsheets. I am sure that Excel can do it too. I like the idea of collaborating with other people so that they modify and access data when needed. This makes it so much easier to keep the data current when multiple people are sharing it together. Although, there are times when you just want something like Office where the spreadsheets and documents are all offline. That is why I recommend OpenOffice for Windows.

OpenOffice is Free For Documents that Do Not Need to be Online

OpenOffice is basically a free version of Microsoft Office that has pretty much the same functionality. Depending if you want to share data with others, you might opt to just use OpenOffice for stuff that only you will use. Of course, it is very easy to just transfer your offline document in OpenOffice to Google Docs and then just share it. It really just depends on how sensitive and confidential the data is. Even though you could just use Google’s office suite, those files are still online. You have to consider that anyone can find a way to access your files online if you do not grant access to them. So there is great flexibility in being able to access your documents across all of your devices. You also have to consider the security risk of just having everything online. That is why Google is better to use when you are doing something that you plan to share like articles that will be published on your website. So what you use, Google Office or OpenOffice, depends on your need and situation.

Having Both Google Office and OpenOffice Gives Your Online and Offline Flexibility

This is why I recommend using both Google Office and OpenOffice because you need that flexibility when different situations come up. Since you can easily transfer your stuff between the two, there is not a reason why you should not use both of them. Yes, it might be easier to just go with Microsoft Office, but that costs money and you know that I do not like to incur extra expenditures. I feel that there is always something out there for free to use instead of a paid option. You just need to have realistic expectations when it comes to using something for free. Using a free alternative means that it might take a little longer to learn something, take a few extra steps, or might not have what you are used to. Your ability to adapt and have realistic expectations will determine if you can handle using something for free. If you expect too much from something that you did not spend a single cent on, then you might as well go with the paid option if you really want to. I am here to show you that you just need to do a little searching and look around. You will find something for free if you look hard enough.


This article was one that I wanted to share since Microsoft Office was really something that I used for a very, very long time. As time goes on, there are other alternatives that show up. Sometimes we become so used to using the things that we always have. We see no point in changing because it just worked. Over time, things change and when products and services move over to the subscription model, then you start to feel different. You feel that you no longer own something as long as you have to pay a continuous subscription to keep it active. This is one of the changes that the Internet brought along with it. Some people are fine with not owning anything because subscription prices tend to be “of fair value”. I used that last phrase in quotes because it all depends on how much we are willing to spend on a subscription. So this is one of many reasons why I moved away from Microsoft Office 365 and used Google Office and OpenOffice instead. Google Office is great if you want to keep your stuff online. You can share your stuff with others and access it across all of your devices all of the time. OpenOffice is great when you want to keep your stuff offline and have it up anywhere. Using both gives you a lot of flexibility that allows you to pick and choose what you need depending on your circumstance.