Microsoft’s Office 365 is the latest cloud-based office suite that mimics the functionalities of their desktop software. It offers a document processor, spreadsheet, presentation, publishing, and email service. These apps are offered in a tiered pricing plan depending on the requirements of the buyer — starts from $6 per month per user ($5 in annual subscription) and goes up to $15 per month per user ($12.50 in annual payment). However, if you’re not interested in Microsoft solutions and looking for other options, there are good number of alternatives that offer similar features.
We have compiled the following suites by factoring in the pricing, feature set, and compatibility with Microsoft Office file types and formats. These alternatives are in no particular order.
G Suite by Google
Google apps were developed from scratch only for cloud-based collaboration. For example, Google Docs lets users make permanent changes in the file and provide feedback on the content in the “suggestion” mode (helps the author approve the final edits). Here are some of the advanced functionality offered by Google as part of the latest update:
- Machine intelligence in Google Calendar to quickly find a time when invitees are free
- Natural Language Processing in Google Sheets to come with automated analysis and visualization
- Machine intelligence in Google Docs to automatically recommend related topics to learn more and insert images
- Dynamic layout suggestions in Google Slides
- Better file management and granular content ownership with a focus on team in Google Drive
It’d be really difficult to find apps that don’t claim to integrate with G Suite. Google’s integration with CRM, productivity and customer service software means you have many options. For example, TeamWave (Project management, CRM & HR software for small business) is fully integrated with GDrive, Google Hangouts, etc.
All of the plans offered by Office 365 come with 1TB storage for each user, where as Google’s starter plan gives 30GB. Note that Google considers email storage as part of the 30 GB quota. But, if you go for the G Suite Unlimited, storage-wise it’ll offer better solutions in comparison to all the plans offered by Microsoft. This will be really helpful if your company handles large audio/video files.
G Suite has straightforward pricing with two plans – $5/user and $10/user (monthly), which comes with security settings and admin control panel along with support via phone/email (24/7).
Open365 is the new name in the world of cloud-based office suites. It’s based on the excellent LibreOffice, a free open-source Micorosft Office alternative. That means users would feel like using LibreOffice in a web browser when they deploy Open365.
Since Open365 is primarily a full-fledged app suite running in the cloud, users get to access a lot more than what any other online office suite offers. Microsoft’s Office 365 has removed some features from its comprehensive offline suite. You won’t have any such problems with Open365 and LibreOffice. Open365 can be used to create and edit LibreOffice documents on a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer and access the documents from any machine without having to transfer them.
The focus is on documents but support goes beyond other widely used document formats such as docx, xls or pptx. Open365 supports an image viewer that supports all common image formats, and a media player to play audio and video content. The option to install Open365 on own server makes it useful for users who need complete control over documents.
In terms of convenience for everyday usage, Office 365 and even Google Drive seem better options at the moment.
iWork for iCloud
One of Apple’s not-so-known cloud-based office suite, iWork actually comes for free to anyone in the world. It doesn’t even mandate an Apple device to use the apps. All you need to do is use an Apple ID that can be created by anyone. It offers apps like Pages (document processor), Numbers (spreadsheets), and Keynote (presentation).
The most notable features are Microsoft Office compatibility, collaboration over the web, cloud storage and mobile compatibility. Although iWork application suite works best on a Mac with iWork installed on it, the browser version doesn’t really limit any feature. The biggest positive aspect is how well it works with Microsoft Office files – the formatting remains perfect, and Apple’s fonts actually make the outcome look better.
In spite of all these, iWork is only good for basic office suite usage. If you create complex Excel spreadsheets or want to write a university or enterprise level research paper, you would be better off with G Suite.
Thinkfree Office Online
Thinkfree’s online version comes with Word (document processor), Cell (spreadsheets) and Show (presentations). It allows users to create and edit rich documents via web browser and comes with collaboration for multiple users to edit the same document in real-time. Another important factor is its tight compatibility with Microsoft Word documents. The spreadsheet app allows usage of Excel formula and functions apart from re-calculation in real-time. Similarly the presentation app also offers rich animations like Microsoft PowerPoint. This suite is perfect for the users who prefer minimalistic apps as it features just several tools for office tasks.