Everyone needs to look at documents. Weather that be basic text documents or complex spreadsheets. A big decision is which office suite would suit you the best. There are many different ones out there. Ranging from paid, to freeware, to open source. The goal is to give you information about all the popular ones so you can make an informed decision.
You can’t go wrong with LibreOffice. It’s a fork of OpenOffice, which is now defunct. LibreOffice looks mare akin to older versions of Microsoft Office. There is an option to make the interface look more like modern Office with the ribbon but it isn’t quite there yet. Hopefully they improve that feature in the future. LibreOffice supports all the popular formats like docx, xlsx, and pptx. It of course supports the open document versions like odt, ods, and odp as well. LibreOffice comes with Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math, and Base. The Office equivalents in the same order are Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Visio. Math does not have an Office equivalent and Base is similar to Access. All those programs can perform similar functions to their counterparts.
The biggest draw back to using any of the free office suites is they are not as compatible with the Microsoft documents like docx. Since most people use Microsoft Office, this could lead to issues when trying to open an office document from someone who uses Microsoft Office. That said, it’s not that it wont open but it may not look exactly the same depending on how complex the document is.
The original OpenOffice was discontinued in 2011, however, the project got forked and Apache OpenOffice is the direct successor. Apache OpenOffice can be thought of as a cousin to LibreOffice. The overall look and feel is very similar to LibreOffice which shouldn’t be a surprise since they share new code changes with each other.
Another office suite is WPS Office It’s freeware which means it’s free to use, supported by different skews of the program which cost, and closed source. WPS Office looks quite modern with its colorful graphics. One of the neatest features is how it has a tabbed user interface. Instead of switching between windows on the taskbar to open one document and then back to the other, you can just click on the document at the top. You can even have multiple types of documents open in a single window. For example, you could have your report open in one tab and a spreadsheet with the data you’re writing about in another. WPS Office has a very similar layout to Microsoft Office with the ribbon. It also supports the common file types like docx, xlsx, and pptx. WPS Office has it’s own format as well which may cause issues when sharing documents with others.
OnlyOffice is similar to WPS Office in that it has a tabbed interface. Again, this allows for quick navigation between document types. OnlyOffice only has programs for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. A nifty feature is you can use OnlyOffice in your browser as well. This compares to Google’s Workspace (formerly called G Suite).
If you’re looking at an in browser solution, Google Workspace is for you. Workspace is geared more towards businesses but there is a more user oriented option. If you have a already Google account, you have access to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and many more. Workspace ranges from $6 to $18 a month, which can add up for an induvial user. The benefit of using Workspaces or the free option is the ease of saving everything in the cloud as well as easy sharing. They both also support collaboration so more than one person can work on a document at a time.
OfficeSuite is another option. The software will let you do basic features with the free plan but anything other than that requires a plan. As of writing, the plans range from $30 to $100. It also tries to push their cloud storage solution called MobiDrive. The overall feel of the program is very reminiscent of Microsoft Office.
WordPerfect has been around for a long time. After downloading and installing the trial, it wants an email address just to try it. WordPerfect looks similar to Microsoft Office 97. Programs included in the trial include WordPerfect, Quattro, Presentations, and Lightning. WordPerfect is for word processing and Presentations is for, well, presentations, pretty self explanatory. Other two are not, however. Quattro is for spreadsheets and lightning is a notetaking application. None of the features in the WordPerfect suite stand out to me. All their programs use their own format to save in by default which may cause issues when opening them with another office suite.
Microsoft Office is an industry standard. The vast majority of users and businesses prefer it. Office comes in many different flavors. You can either get the pay once version of Office called Office 2019 and soon to be released Office 2021 or you can get Office as a service. The service version is called Office 365. You can either pay for it monthly or on an annual basis. This way you get all the programs you know and love with continued support and new features being added. The programs you get with Office 365 vary depending on which plan you choose.
As you’ve read, there are lots of office suites to choose from. They all vary in price and features while all being able to open and edit basic documents. The biggest decision is weather or not to choose an option which you must pay for annually. If you rely on opening documents for your business, I highly recommend using Office 365 as most businesses use the Microsoft suite it will ensure compatibility. If you’re someone who infrequently needs to open documents, I recommend an open source option like LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice. Finally, if you like a clean, modern look, I’d give WPS Office a try. The user interface is really polished and is a treat to look at.