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Overview of Microsoft Office plans
Microsoft Office with its programs Excel, PowerPoint or Word are among the most popular office applications. Microsoft sells Office in several plans. The current version Office 2019 is a software that is sold at a fixed price: „Home and Student“ for private users (about 120 $) and „Home and Business“ for businesses (about 240 $). At the same time, there is the option to rent Office as a subscription model. The subscription model is called Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) and exists in several applications for private and commercial users. A yearly license costs between 50 – 130 $, if bought retail. A commercial license for Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher and Access can be purchased for as little as 8.80 $ per month. There is also extra storage for the OneDrive Cloud.
Office on the browser at microsoft.com
Microsoft makes its Office suite, including Excel, Word and PowerPoint, available on the office.com website (formerly known as Excel Web App). All that is required is a free Microsoft account, a browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) and an Internet connection. Compared to the paid version, the feature set is much smaller. There are charts and formulas, but no conditional formatting, SmartArts or pivot tables. Furthermore, the application responds quite sluggishly in the browser.
Microsoft Office Mobile
Excel, Word and PowerPoint are now available as apps for mobile Android and Apple devices. As a free version, the apps are surprisingly comprehensive, easy to use, and far superior to their mobile alternatives. Microsoft has dropped some important features here, which are only available in exchange for an upgrade to the Office365 version. Office 365 works on a subscription model, with monthly fees. The free version is very fair.
Google also offers free alternatives for Office. They are called Docs (Word), Presentations (PowerPoint) and Spreadsheets (Excel) and are located in Google Drive, the in-house cloud service. Sign up with a free account at Google, go to Google Drive and use these and other applications. The feature set is even larger than the free browser version of Office Online (first point) and is perfectly sufficient for simple applications. Here is the the link:
If the Microsoft Office package is too expensive, you should take a look at the free software Open Office. It’s user-friendly, feature-rich, and free. The biggest drawback is compatibility. Open Office can read and save Microsoft Office files, but it can’t always handle all the functions or layouts. However, if this is not a problem, or if you only want to create very simple documents without any special features, this is all half bad. It’s just a standalone software that is more than good in its own right.
Libre Office is similar to Open Office and is especially popular on Linux systems. Linux is a collective term for mostly free operating systems like Ubuntu, Suse or SteamOS. Since Microsoft has its own operating system with Windows, there is not much motivation to publish their biggest drawing card on competing systems. Linux users make do with the software Winetricks, which can install Windows programs on Linux. However, these are not fully compatible, which can lead to problems like crashes. Those who depend on Microsoft Office will not get around the Windows operating system in the medium term. For Linux users, I recommend Libre Office, which is fully compatible on popular Linux distributions and has a similar feature set. Moreover, it is free and can also be installed on Windows 10.
Office made in Germany. A good alternative comes from the German software developer SoftMaker. Similar to the Microsoft Office package, FreeOffice has a spreadsheet, presentation software and a writing program. It runs on Windows, MacOs and Linux and is compatible with MS Office formats.
WPS Office Free
Similar to the Microsoft Office package, WPS Office Free is a free version of the WPS Office Business software package. It can handle Excel, Word and PowerPoint formats and offers the ribbon interface we know from Office. Compared to the alternatives presented so far, we don’t like the ad breaks. These pauses lower productivity during work.
Calligra Office (Linux)
The Calligra office software is aimed at creatives and has overlaps with the Gimp software. Calligra also comes with applications comparable to Word, Excel or PowerPoint. Office formats can be opened, but not saved.
Frequent Answers and Questions (FAQ)
Which free office program is the best?
If you want to do without the expensive Microsoft Office programs, we can recommend Open Office and Libre Office. The range of functions is large and with a little time to get used to these programs, you can manage well. If you only want to use Office in the browser, but would like to collaborate with other users on a document at the same time, Google Docs is a good choice.
Where can I get Word and Excel for free?
Microsoft Office can be used for free on office.com in the browser as a web app. This applies to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Not all features of Microsoft 365 or Office 2019 can be used. Here is the link.
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