With Office 2016 , Microsoft has made several enhancements to security and productivity, including a much-needed overhaul of Excel. However, at £120 (US$120, AU$179) for the home edition it’s a substantial investment – especially if you’re unlikely to use its more advanced features regularly.
Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 has a lower entry price of £8 (US$10, AU$12) per month or £80 (US$90, AU$119) per year for the home version, but again, it’s a substantial expense for a set of tools that might be overpowered for your needs.
If you work with people who use Office and rely on its collaborative functions every day, the convenience of using those programs yourself may well justify the price. For the rest of us, there are lots of excellent free alternatives to consider. Here are our picks of the best free office apps in 2016. Have we missed your preferred suite? Let us know in the comments below.
Remember, when you install any of these office suites you’ll be asked if you want to associate particular file formats with the newly installed programs. We recommend deselecting these options at first, then changing your defaults once you’re satisfied that you’ll be using the new suite in the long term.
LibreOffice is a fork of the OpenOffice.org project, and it’s available for Windows, OS X and Linux (it’s the office suite you’ll find on most popular Linux distros). The main draw is that it’s OpenOffice but fast-tracked, with far more frequent updates than its parent suite.
Like OpenOffice, it’s designed around the standard Open Document Format with Microsoft Office importing and exporting, and its six apps cover just about everything you could need from a productivity suite:
- Writer (word processing
- Calc (spreadsheets)
- Impress (presentations)
- Draw (diagrams and vector graphics)
- Math (mathematical formulae)
- Base (databases)
Unlike Microsoft Office there’s no email client – likely because there are so many excellent open source clients already available, developing another would be redundant.
LibreOffice’s apps have a clear format reminiscent of older versions of Microsoft Office. It’s not as sleek as Office 2016 or 365, but features are represented by large, clear icons rather than being hidden behind menus and ribbons. See our guide to getting started with LibreOffice .
If its standard offering isn’t enough, the LibreOffice community has created hundreds of templates and extensions to add new features and improve existing ones – all available to download and use completely free. There’s also a portable version that can be run from a USB stick.
Read on to discover more of the best free Microsoft Office alternatives.