In the first article of this 2016 I commented that Windows and Office are still easy to use without a license. License that costs nothing more than 125€ for home and students and about 250€ for home and business, by computer. If the computer is renewed or damaged requiring a change of components, a new license must be purchased. Given the negligible cost of the license it is not surprising that both Windows and Office are among the most used unlicensed or pirated products.
Given how easy it is to use Windows and Office without license along with the Windows tax they have a market share in virtually monopoly numbers, that will not change in the short term. Sometimes I think that Microsoft does not care if Windows or Office users uses them without a license for personal use. However, there are alternatives for both Windows and Office that have little to envy, much cheaper or even free and libre software even with better support than Microsoft offers for its own software.
The alternatives to Windows are the expensive Apple products very oriented to the high ranges especially for the price or some of the many distributions GNU/Linux that are almost totally free and libre software, although the libre software does not have to be free in most cases.
In this article I will focus on alternatives to Office that are also several. Bypassing the issue of libre software, Office is a good and complete office suite with more options than many users will need.
Microsoft Office includes Word as word processor, Powerpoint for presentations, Excel for spreadsheets, Access for databases, Outlook as an e-mail client, OneNote for taking notes or Publisher for publications. It is only available for Windows and Mac for desktop and web versions for these and other systems. Office 365 has a cost of 8.80€ per user and according to the plan that includes more or fewer applications.
The free and libre alternative of Office is LibreOffice. It includes a text editor with Writing, spreadsheets with Calc, presentations with Impress, Drawing to create graphs and Base for simple databases. However, the interface is similar to the Office in the previous editions incorporated with an aesthetic and without the feeling of being taken care of. The menus are long and find a choice among the many is not easy, opening a menu option can be feel intimidated by the length of it and somewhat more difficult to quickly find the desired option among all shown. There will be users who prefer the menu interface and toolbars, I am the ones who like ribbon. It is available for Windows, Linux and Mac.
If you like the ribbon interface without menus with a multitude of options and that is more careful in a design than LibreOffice similar to the one used in Microsoft Office, WPS Office is a great option to take into account, it can also be activated in classic mode menus and toolbars, it can edit multiple documents in tabs. It offers the basic programs of an office suite: text editor, spreadsheets and presentations. For personal use it is available with some limitations when printing and exporting documents to PDF format.
For the business environments with all its options its license has a much more reasonable cost than Microsoft Office, 30€ for a one year subscription license and 80€ for the perpetual license.
It is available for Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10) even in versions for which Microsoft Office does not already offer support, Linux, Android and iOS. Its installer occupies only 80 MB against more than 3 gigas of Office.
Another alternative to Office is Google Docs, it does not have all the options that Office has but for most users it is enough. Simply have a Google account to use that includes a text editor, spreadsheets, presentations and the ability to make forms. It runs in the browser and although it is possible to work without internet connection at specific times is required. The documents are stored in the cloud so we will not lose them in case of spoiling our computer, we can access the documents from any of our devices as a smartphone o tablet, edit the same document by two or more persons simultaneously or share the documents with other people. Being based on the cloud we do not need to perform software updates except the browser.
For companies it is offered at the price of 4€ per user per month which includes the Gmail email client, calendars, video calls and 30GB of storage. There will be 8€ with more storage options and message retention.
The next time I’m asked to reinstall Windows or Office instead of installing the Microsoft Office suite without a license I think I will install the WPS Office personal use option, I will recommend using Google Docs or LibreOffice, I hope them improve and update to modern times its interface when I have to install it again.