This is the third week of me referencing some more common questions I get from my readers. The first week, we looked at various browsers and bookmarking sites. Next, we looked at suggestions for free email accounts. Now, one that I have visited years ago and things have only gotten better, Office Suites.

Most everyone in the business world knows that Microsoft Office (MS Office) is the number one Office Suite used around the world. However, even though you can get it for a pretty good price, free is better.

There are several excellent free alternatives which are available for regular uses like you and me. I will tell you my top suggestions below; however, in no definite order and let you decide. I have given links to all of them below. Since they are free (with only an email address and password setup for some) I will let you try them out. Then you can let me know what works best for you!

First up. If I did not get MS Office for free, supplied by my employers over the past many years, I would use Google Docs. Employees get MS Office for free per their agreement with MS. But again, I would use Google Docs which is found at docs.google.com. The primary reason is due to all the other software and features which are available with your Google Account. You can save all of your files on Google Drive and have them anywhere you go.

Next on my list would be the free Microsoft Office Online (office.com). This is a downgraded version of the paid MS Office Suite. It does not have all the fancy and many unused functions of the “real” Office Suite. They designed it for normal users and should be plenty of office for you. You need an Office.com account. That would include any of the following; Outlook.com or Hotmail.com, and Live.com accounts from days of old. All will work equally well.

Try it out. You get Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and many more features…for free! The only difference is that it will store the files you create in the cloud on your Office OneDrive account (also included free). I have no complaints with Office online, so enjoy if you wish to try it.

Next, for you Office lovers who do not appreciate cloud storage is LibreOffice, libreoffice.com. LibreOffice and the last one I will mention below, Apache OpenOffice are closely related and started about the same time. However, they split up at one point and over time LibreOffice was updated more often and OpenOffice just sort of sat. LibreOffice was always a few features behind MS Office offerings, but it was very close. It now is a very good free replacement for MS Office.

Last is OpenOffice (openoffice.org) and as you can tell from above is another capable alternative to Microsoft Office. This is also similar to older versions of MS Office, is free to download and will allow you to store your files locally. Not bad at all.

There are many other free (and paid if you are interested) alternatives to MS Office out there, but these are my favorites. They will all allow you to save your files with the same extensions Office uses. This makes it convenient when you send your files to others. They can open them in MS Office, they will appear just as usual with no issues. That way you remain “up-do-date” with the others out there who pay for Office.

All the above also have alternatives for the major MS Office components like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and some even have extras. If you have no advanced uses for MS Office, try the others as an experiment. They are all very good substitutes.

Contact Ron Doyle at GrayHaired.Tech.

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