Microsoft is not only the pioneer of mass produced Operating System (OS) we call Windows, but it is also among the pioneers of office productivity software. The company was so confident about its offering that it even named its suite of software as Microsoft Office.
The highly capable suite of productivity software was designed as a do it all sort of package. As MS Office was designed for hardcore office productivity, the applications were more inclined towards features and functionality, rather than user friendliness.
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For this reason, ever since the platform became common among users, its learning curve has been fairly steep. Without proper training or guidance, it is really difficult to extract the type of functionality this platform is capable of. As the needs of office productivity have gained complexity, Microsoft has strongly delivered.
The Drawback of Microsoft Office Suite
When it comes to core functionality, it is really difficult to find any notable flaw or missing feature is Microsoft’s highly capable suite of office productivity applications. It comes fully equipped with a dedicated word, data, email and presentation management solution.
Perhaps the only notable shortcoming of Microsoft Office Suite is not related to functionality, rather it’s the exorbitant price tag that puts us off as users. This by no means implies that the solution is overpriced in any way, rather many other factors contribute to making it appear a non viable option.
It won’t be wrong to say that most users don’t even use ten percent of the theoretical functionality offered by MS Office. This raises a somewhat valid objection in the minds of users as to why should they be paying for most of those features and functionalities which they won’t be using at all.
Most users of MS office will either be totally unaware of advanced features or won’t need them altogether. Hence, it makes little sense in paying a hefty sum for a suite of applications that you will not even use. The underutilized functionality of this platform makes its price appear unjustified.
Zero Charge Alternatives
In addition to the underutilized functionality, wide availability of free office productivity software has also motivated users to switch to free alternatives. Let’s give due credit to Microsoft here because most of these free platforms use MS Office Suite as the benchmark for functionality, performance, reliability and features.
Free Alternatives to MS Office Suite
Although the actual number of alternatives may be much higher, we will however focus this post on some of the most feature rich, cross compatible and above all, free office productivity software. The seven best software for office productivity are listed below:-
Please note that these office applications are in no particular order and must be considered based on your unique needs. The common factor in these solutions is being free, which offers you the luxury of switching over easily. In the below table, we will try to summarize the feature set of each solution to make your selection easier.
|Software/Functionality||Google Docs||LibreOffice||Office Online||Apple iWork||WPS Office||Calligra Office||DropBox Paper|
|Platform||Cloud||Hard Drive||Cloud||iCloud||Cloud||Open Source||Cloud/Web|
|Paid Version||Yes (G Suite)|
|Requirement||Google Account||Open Source||Microsoft Account||Apple ID||Sign-up||Sign-up||Internet|
|Windows OS||Yes (via iCloud)||Yes (via iCloud)|
|Linux OS||Yes (Cloud)|
|Android OS||Yes (View Only)|
From the above table, it is evident that options and choices in terms of free office productivity software are very wide. It is less about what the best solution is and more about which solution is most suitable for your specific needs.
Most of the above free software suites are still under constant improvement and development. New features and functionality are constantly being added to the existing set of features to make the offerings even more compelling.
However, there are some drawbacks to software platforms that are undergoing constant improvement. Firstly, users find it a bit tedious to learn or acclimatize themselves with the newly developed or improved features.
Secondly, constant development means more input costs. We have observed over the past few years that software platforms which have undergone major R&D either fully migrated to the paid versions or major functionality was available only in the paid variants.
Which is the Best Platform for You
Let’s recap the few major free software platforms to make your decision a lot easier:-
- If you are well versed with MS Office Suite, then shifting to Office Online is perhaps the most prudent choice.
- When it comes to intuitiveness and user friendliness, Apple iWork has no rivalry.
- If working over the cloud is your thing, opting for Google Docs will be a wise choice.
Even otherwise, each of the above three productivity software platforms are backed by some of the tech industry’s leading names. As a user, you can be sure of one thing that these platforms are here for the long haul. You can confidently invest your time in learning any of these potent platforms.
Why Choose a Cloud Based Platform
A major advantage of cloud based platforms is instant sharing of your work with team members in real time. Further, when a document is available over the cloud, each team member can contribute the respective input over a unified platform and those changes become visible to the whole team.
This in turn improves organizational efficiency as constant emailing or sharing of an office document to and fro is a time and resource wasting exercise. At times, the team may completely lose track of the latest version and give rise to a whole new dilemma.
Given the rising influence of cloud based enterprise solutions, it would be a prudent choice to select a productivity software platform that is fully cloud enabled. In this way, your organization will not only be utilizing an optimal solution, but also one that caters to the future needs as well.