The world of Mac applications is changing while we watch. Instead of selling app suites, both Adobe and Microsoft prefer that we rent, or subscribe to, Creative Suite and Office, respectively. Forever. Sounds expensive, doesn’t it?
Both Adobe and Microsoft publish the de facto standard suite of apps for graphic designers and office drones, but neither company was able to live their lives in a manner they were accustomed to merely by selling software because renting apps by the month is the new way to extract even more money from Mac and Windows PC users. Here are two alternatives to Office and both are free.
Liberate The Office!
For the moment, I’ll give Adobe a free pass because Apple to apples. Allow me time to focus some light on Microsoft’s cash cow suite, Office (made up primarily of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook), and an alternative. The business world seems to thrive on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and email, so Office for Mac (or Windows) has become a mainstream necessity. Not only has the price tag in the past been a hefty per-person, per-seat cost, which led to annual licensing or upgrade pricing, Microsoft now wants to rent Office to the unsuspecting.
Yes. There are alternatives to Office, but I’m not talking about Google Docs because the company spies on its users (you’re not as much a customer as you are part of the product– Google gathers information about you). But Apple’s own Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are worthy adversaries but not exactly in the same standing in the business world because compatibility (please note that even Microsoft has compatibility problems with its own software).
If you’ve grown tired of Microsoft’s subscription pricing shenanigans and loathe paying a rental fee for software, then take a look at free. Free as in LibreOffice, an Office-like suite for Mac and Windows that combines a very competent suite of apps to match Office (with the exception of Outlook, Microsoft’s email app) and even improve upon Office in a few notable ways.
LibreOffice Writer is a near clone to Word, right down to keyboard shortcuts and toolbar. Spreadsheet users will appreciate Calc as a replacement for Excel (most of the time), complete with extensive tools and built-in graphics and charts. You can even import Excel spreadsheets.
Impress is the PowerPoint knock off which looks and works much the same way. Setup slides, organize as needed, drop in graphics and text and, well, impress. As an open source project, LibreOffice also fills out the suite of Draw, a competent drawing applications, Base for database setup and management, and Math for equations.
LibreOffice is an ongoing project so improvements and feature additions are normal. The latest version comes with new fonts, an option to sign and share PDF files, new menus, toolbars, and sidebar, plus new features for improved compatibility.
Microsoft may want to extract money from users each month, but there are alternatives that work very well– both for business, small office, and home use. LibreOffice is one of the best open source Office-like suits around, comes with good file compatibility, and more features than most users need. Just like Office.
If free is your game, LibreOffice may be your last true Office-like suite as those running the Apache OpenOffice project have considered shuttering the operation. Free isn’t much of a business model.