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Five Alternatives to Microsoft Excel

written by: Arnold Zafra•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/29/2009

Microsoft Excel is an excellent spreadsheet application, but many are still searching for a good alternative to it primarily because of price and processing demand from their machines. Here are the five best alternatives to Microsoft Excel, and four of them are free!

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    OpenOffice Spreadsheets

    openofficecalc OpenOfffice's spreadsheet application, also known as the OpenOffice Calc, could very well be your best alternative to Microsoft Excel. Its many features and functionality which are similar to Microsoft Excel are well complemented by its intuitive and easy to learn interface. OpenOffice Calc offers tons of basic spreadsheet functions as well as an extensive range of advanced functions. The application lets you pull in raw data from various databases, do data cross-tabulation, summary and conversion, create formulas using natural language formats, insert a sum function, and apply flexible cell formatting options. In addition, OpenOffice Calc also supports multiple users so you can share spreadsheets with other users. The application also lets you save your spreadsheets in OpenDocument format which would enable you to read it using other spreadsheet applications which support the same format.

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    Abykus 2.0

    abykus This is an easy-to-use object-oriented spreadsheet which was designed to handle both business and scientific applications. It boasts nifty features such as a statistics wizard; 190 built-in math functions; and matrix, financial, date, and coordinate geometry capabilities. Abykus also features dynamic cell addressing. You can also store multi-value data types or cell objects in any cell in a worksheet. These cell objects can be used to contain up to 8191 individual values and free up other valuable real estate on your worksheets. It can be used to represent anything from a simple table to a polygon which is composed of coordinate pairs. Furthermore, cell objects are updated while you make changes in the worksheets, or you can use it as stand-alone or to create other cell objects.

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    Spread32

    spread32screenshot This alternative to Microsoft Excel may be a tiny spreadsheet but it will certainly help you get the job done using its 256 columns x 65536 rows x 255 sheets, formulas consisting of 300 functions, multiple key sorting, freeze panes, and other many features. Spread32 is your quick fix for immediate calculations and spreadsheet functions. The best part of this program is the fact that it doesn't eat up too many resources from your machine as it only requires 500KB for you to install it. Spread32 used to be a freeware but is currently available as shareware.

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    Gnumeric

    gnumeric-sample This spreadsheet, which is a good alternative to Microsoft Excel, is part of the GNOME desktop environment. As such, it boasts great features which you normally wouldn't find in a free software application. These include 100% of the worksheet functions of MS Excel as well as 154 functions which you can't find in MS Excel, support for financial derivatives and telecommunication engineering, intersheet dependencies, 3D dependencies, implicit intersection, implicit iteration, and many other advanced spreadsheet functions. One notable feature of Gnumeric is the fact that it has already been localized into various languages.

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    Google Docs - Spreadsheets

    googledocsspreadsheets Alright, I will try to be as objective as possible about Google Docs, although I must say that I'm a big Google fan. Google Docs Spreadsheets application stands out from the rest of these alternatives to Excel for the fact that it is web-based. And by that, it allows you to access your worksheets anytime, anywhere. The fact that it's web-based does limit its functionalities, however. But for simple spreadsheet functions, Google Docs Spreadsheets is a good application. Google Docs Spreadsheets allows you to create, edit, and format worksheets and work with formulas, forms, gadgets, and charts. But most importantly, Google Docs Spreadsheets allows you to share and collaborate worksheets with people you choose as well as publish your worksheet instantly on the web.