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Office Suites That Aren't MS Office: Meet the Underdogs

written by: MatthewA•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 9/11/2012

For years, the MS Office suite has dominated the office software scene. Currently it does not seem that this will change much, but nonetheless there are a number of underdogs to the MS Office 2010 office suite worth considering. So, let's consider some of the best alternatives here.

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    OpenOffice

    OpenOffice 

    To begin with there is the OpenOffice software suite, which includes a good range of choices. OpenOffice includes word processing, spreadsheet, database and presentation software. Each of these software packages has a good variety of options, and the word processor and spreadsheet applications have a number of formatting options so that a variety of potential spreadsheet and word documents can be produced with them.

    OpenOffice is also very flexible. From the OpenOffice website, you can find plenty of potential plug-ins, templates and clip art. It supports a variety of potential file formats for compatibility with the MS Office suite. In addition to this, it is multi-platform and is available for Linux and Apple Mac.

    However, the best thing about the OpenOffice suite is that it is open source software. In terms of value, it beats the pants off MS Office 2010, and its software applications are certainly comparable.

    It should be noted that OpenOffice does lack some of the software that comes with MS Office. For example, there is no e-mail client or desktop publishing software included. Read more details about the OpenOffice suite here.

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    Kingsoft Office

    Kingsoft Office 

    You may not have heard of them, but Kingsoft office software actually dates back to the 1980s. Their office software was greatly eclipsed by MS Office in the '90s, and since then the software has remained in the shadows, although it is better established in China. Kingsoft Office Suite 2012 is their latest office suite that is a very reasonable alternative to the MS Office suite.

    The Kingsoft Office Suite 2012 has a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software package included. Admittedly, this is not the most comprehensive suite of office software as there is no database, desktop publishing or e-mail software included. In this respect, there are better alternatives. However, the software that is included is versatile and has plenty of options. It has full compatibility with MS Office 2010 as well as a PDF converter so that you can save and convert its document files as PDF format. Above all else, like the OpenOffice suite it is freeware software!

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    Corel WordPerfect Office X5

    Corel WordPerfect Office X5 

    One of the best alternatives to MS Office is that of WordPerfect Office X5. This includes WordPerfect X5, Quattro Pro X5 and Presentations X5 for word processing, spreadsheet and presentations. This office suite also includes document management and image management software, e-mail application and digital notebook software, which is ideal for drafting notes.

    WordPerfect Office X5 boasts new additions and a number of enhancements. For starters, Mozilla® Thunderbird is the new e-mail client included with it, and the new Reference Center provides greater tutorials for the office suite. Its PDF tools have also been enhanced, and PDF documents can be converted to text for editing. Compatibility with MS Office has also been enhanced, and the office suite can be installed on all the recent Windows OS. However, it is not available for the Linux platform.

    Corel WordPerfect Office X5 has plenty included, and extensive enough resources to ensure that it is one of the best office suites. However, unlike some of the other alternatives this is not freeware software, and so in terms of value it does match up quite so well. The Corel website does include a free 30-day trial version, which may be worth noting before you consider the full version.

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    Cellframe Office

    Cellframe Office 

    Another of the MS Office underdogs is that of Cellframe Office. The best thing about this office suite is the wealth of office applications that come included with it: a fully equipped word processor and desktop publisher, spreadsheet, presentation, draw, database, bitmap graphic editor, e-mail client, note maker software, backup, XML editor and PDF software. As such, it has a very diverse range of office software, and in this respect eclipses most other office suites.

    In terms of design, it is also similar to MS Office. Cellframe Office proudly boasts that is has effectively copied the look and feel of the MS Office suite. In that respect, it could be considered an MS Office clone. The suite also has extensive resources with thousands of clip arts, background and themes for your documents.

    Cellframe Office is undoubtedly a good budget alternative. There are various editions of Cellframe Office such as professional and standard edition. From the Cellframe website, there are download options for free trials of four of the editions.

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    Calligra Suite

    Calligra Suite 

    The Calligra Project is part of the KDE (freeware software) community, and so their Calligra Suite is freeware software. The Calligra Suite includes a good mix of office and graphic software applications. Its office applications include software such as Words, Tables and Stage for its word processor, spreadsheet and presentation applications. In addition, the software also includes the Karbon and Krita vector graphic and painting applications. Calligra Project is also available for smartphones as well as desktops.

     

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    SSuite Office

    SSuite Office 

    SSuite Office is available for any Windows OS, either 32-bit or 64-bit. However, more advanced editions are available for a more limited range of Windows OS. Spreadsheet and word processor, as well as e-mail software, Web browser and PDF software for PDF documents are included. The suite is also compatible with numerous other office software suites such as MS Office, MS Works, StarOffice and OpenOffice.

    The suite has been quite highly rated by numerous software publications. It has been an editor’s choice of numerous websites and magazines, which have rated it with five stars. As such, with just a small amount of hard disk required this freeware office software is worthy of note.

     

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    IBM Lotus Symphony

    IBM Lotus Symphony 

    The IBM Lotus Symphony is another of the software suites that is distributed as freeware. In terms of value, it gets the thumbs up. However, it only includes word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software applications, which is a more limited range of software compared to some of the others.

    Despite this, the latest edition does still include a number of new enhancements and new options. With IBM Lotus Symphony, there are new clipart galleries, more templates, more spreadsheet formulas, more presentation page layouts, VBA script support and more besides. As such, the software it does include has plenty of options for more advanced documents.

     

     

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    Softmaker Office

    Softmaker Office 

    Softmaker Office is an office suite that includes word processor, presentation and spreadsheet software applications. In addition to this, Softmaker Office also has BasicMaker that is scripting software, which is compatible with VBA (Visual Basic) for applications.

    One of the advantages of this suite is that it comes with a multiple license so that you can install it on up to three PCs. It has minimal hardware requirements making it suitable for netbooks, and can even be included on USB sticks for extra portability. Its impressive compatibility with MS Office and other office applications is also said to be better than other alternative office software suites.

    However, unlike some of the underdog suites this is not freeware software. Softmaker Office 2010 is 69.75 Euros, which in dollars amounts to approximately $99 at the time of writing. As such, it is not the best value MS Office underdog.

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    KOffice

    KOffice 

    KOffice is similar to the Calligra Suite, as a number of the KOffice developers formed the Calligra Suite, which includes many similar options and generally similar software applications. As such, you can expect a similarly good mix of office and graphic applications such as KWord, KCells, Showcase and KOffice Artwork. Being part of the KDE community, it is also another freeware office suite.

     

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    LibreOffice

    LibreOffice 

    Finally, there is LibreOffice, which is another open source office suite. As such, LibreOffice's developers have taken some of OpenOffice's source code for LibreOffice. It therefore includes a nearly identical suite of software applications, which go by the same name: Writer, Calc, Impress, Base and Draw. As such, LibreOffice has many of the same options, plus some further enhancements and refinements. Like OpenOffice is also multiplatform and compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

     

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    These are 10 noteworthy alternatives to the MS Office suite that include a variety of office software applications packed full of options. These are also better value software packages. You can download trial versions, or the full versions from some of the websites listed in the references below.

References