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May 6, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:24am

7 free and cheap alternatives to Microsoft Office

Whether on Mac, Windows or Linux, productivity products shouldn't be costly.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Office suites are expensive, with a single licence for Microsoft’s Office 365 costing £6 per month, and deals for business being £15 a user per month for larger firms. Luckily there are a number of free or cheap alternatives available for those strapped for cash.

Apache OpenOffice

OpenOffice

Tools: Writing, spreadsheets, presentations, illustrator, databases and equations
Platforms: Linux, OS X and Windows
Price: Free

Apache’s open-source offering is the most famous of the free office suites, covering a large range of tasks and boasting millions of users. Fully compatible with Microsoft office formats, this was the suite that pioneered the OpenDocument Format that works on most of the applications on this list.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice

Tools: Writing, spreadsheets, presentations, illustrator, databases and equations
Platforms: Linux, OS X and Windows
Price: Free

Derived from OpenOffice.org, the predecessor to Apache OpenOffice, and developed by the Document Foundation, LibreOffice is commonly found on Linux distributions as the native office suite. The OpenOffice.org community split after a disagreement on how the original suite should be managed, with fears that the suite would be discontinued. As these proved unfounded there are now two quality office suites available free of charge.

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NeoOffice

NeoOffice

Tools: Writing, spreadsheets and presentations
Platforms: OS X
Price: $9.99

Beginning in 2003 a number of developers began to investigate creating a native version of OpenOffice.org for Mac OS X. Over the years features have been added and the software has been further adapted to each iteration of Apple’s OS, making it one of the few bespoke suites for the platform.

Google Docs

Google Docs

Tools: Writing, spreadsheets, presentations, illustrator and forms
Platforms: Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari
Price: Free

Google’s web-based suite is included with the company’s excellent email service and free cloud storage. Being online, the service includes the ability to edit documents simultaneously with peers, as well as the ability to easily share information. Currently it offers 15GB storage free, with premium packages starting at $1.99 for the data hungry.

ThinkFree

ThinkFree

Tools: Writing, spreadsheets and presentations
Platforms: Linux, OS X, Windows (web-based) and Android
Price: Free (£5.69 mobile, various prices for server)

Produced by Hancom, a Korean software firm, ThinkFree is the younger brother to the company’s proprietary office suite. Running from web or mobile, the software provides a cloud alternative to Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and comes with 1GB free storage. It also connects to ThinkFree Server, which allows companies to manage content and collaborate on the cloud.

Calligra

Calligra Suite

Tools: Writing, spreadsheets, presentations, illustrator, databases, planning and flowcharts
Platforms: Linux, Unix-like, OS X and Windows
Price: Free

Another open-source project, Calligra is the most expansive suite on the internet, incorporating two illustrators tools (one for vectors and one for pixels), a flowchart creator and planning tool. While reviewers have had reservations about the stability and breadth of features, it remains a compelling series of tools for the freeloader, making extensive use of docks at the side of the page.

Kingsoft Office

Kingsoft Office

Tools: Writing, spreadsheets and presentations
Platforms: Linux and Windows
Price: Free (premium version $69.95)

Unlike the others on this list, Kingsoft makes use of a menu similar to Microsoft’s vaunted ribbon system. As a result the suite looks more modern and robust than some of its competitors, with a premium version on offer that adds a few more features.

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