Microsoft Office, or Microsoft 365, is one of the most popular tools for any kind of productivity environment. It includes all sorts of products, from the core apps that include Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, to some lesser-known like Access for managing databases. It's undoubtedly an incredibly versatile suite of tools, but it's not necessarily for everyone.
For one thing, Microsoft Office can be expensive, especially if you want to pay for an annual Microsoft 365 subscription. You can use Office for free in some capacity, but if those solutions don't work for you, there are a lot of alternatives to Office that are either free or have solid free versions available. They're also potentially great if you want something that looks a bit different, or you simply don't want something that relies on your Microsoft account. I've rounded up some of my personal favorite alternatives to Microsoft Office if you'd like to take a look at them.
1 SoftMaker FreeOffice
FreeOffice is an alternative to Microsoft Office I hadn't heard about until very recently, and to be fair, it's not the most complete in terms of replacing every aspect of Microsoft's suite of apps. However, FreeOffice does offer alternatives to the three major apps in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) in the form of TextMaker, PlanMaker, and Presentations.
The UI in FreeOffice, like most of these alternatives, is inspired by Microsoft's offering, but it's a bit more compact, and you have the option to enable touch mode to make some of the targets bigger for use with a touchscreen. These three apps have all the basic functionality you'd expect, and they'll feel very familiar if you've used Microsoft's versions before. Each app gives you some templates you can start with. While the selection isn't all that vast, it's a good starting point.
What helps propel this to the top of my list is that while there is a paid version from SoftMaker that unlocks more features, FreeOffice is the single free app that doesn't feel like it's trying too hard to sell you on the paid plan. You install it, set it up, and it never bothers you again. That paid plan does include more advanced proofreading and spellchecking options, a thesaurus, and other tools, but you can definitely use it just fine without paying.
SoftMaker FreeOffice is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, and mobile devices, including Android and iOS, and it's my personal recommendation if you just need these three main apps. If you want to get all the features, you can pay for one of the subscription plans (one costs $29.90 per year, and the highest-end plan goes for $49.90), or you can buy a perpetual license of the current version ($99.95 or $129.95).
2 Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides
The rivalry between Microsoft and Google extends to multiple parts of each company's businesses, and of course, Google had to come up with its own alternative to Office, too. Unlike most of the alternatives here, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides can't be installed on your PC normally; they run on the web and you have the option to make them work offline. You can also install the websites as an app for a more typical experience.
Google's UI is quite a bit different from Microsoft's but all the basic elements are there, so you can write up documents, prepare presentations, and manage spreadsheets easily on any device and for free. Google also gives you Forms, allowing you to create quizzes and questionnaires to gather results from people easily. You also have the added benefit of Google Drive, which gives you a good chunk of cloud storage you can use to store your documents and files and access them from anywhere.
It's not necessarily a favorite of mine, but Google Docs and its related apps are incredibly popular, and we couldn't go without mentioning them.
Another free alternative to Microsoft Office is OfficeSuite, which is also focused on core functionality but manages to go a bit further. It includes five tools: Documents, Sheets, Slides, Mail, and PDF. Indeed, OfficeSuite includes an e-mail client, which is a somewhat simplified replacement for Outlook, another core element of Microsoft Office.
OfficeSuite has a UI that looks like Microsoft's suite of apps, though it also has some elements more similar to Google's apps. Either way, you get everything in a nice package that does everything you need in a familiar interface. Each app has a few templates to choose from when creating a new document, and if you create an account, you can also enable autosave through the cloud so that your documents are always in sync (again, it feels very similar to Microsoft's apps here). Plus, just having an email app that lets you easily manage multiple accounts is great to see, and it makes this a well-rounded suite, though multiple account support does require you to pay up.
A minor downside here is that there are a couple of buttons within the apps that try to push you to subscribe to the premium plan or download the mobile app, but it's far from being overly intrusive. There are also some notable limitations in the free plan, like being able to add comments or track changes in a document, insert audio and video into a presentation, or advanced PDF editing tools.
That said, if you choose to subscribe, OfficeSuite costs $39.99 for the personal license or $59.99 for the family license, which can be used by up to six people. That also includes 50GB of cloud storage per user. On desktop, OfficeSuite is exclusively available for Windows, though it's also available for Android and iOS.
4 WPS Office
WPS Office is yet another Office alternative that's available for free, with a premium plan available if you want to unlock all the features you can get. Like most of these suites, WPS Office is mostly focused on the core functionality, including alternatives to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It also includes a suite of PDF tools, like being able to split, merge, and convert documents, though many of these are limited in the free plan.
This suite is a bit different in that all three "apps" are part of one major central app, and each new document you open is inside a tab, rather than its own window. This is actually quite nice since it lets you stay focused on a specific project that may span across multiple documents without having to constantly switch windows. You can move specific tabs to a new window, too, if you'd like to organize your files differently.
Once you're in the apps themselves, the UI is functionally very similar to Microsoft Office, but it does have a unique visual style that feels modern and helps the app feel more like its own thing. It has all the features you'd expect, and it also stands out for having a ton of templates available for your documents, so you can really find some inspiration to get you started with a new project. There's a wealth of editing tools and the apps are very capable overall. WPS Office also includes cloud storage, but only 1GB in the free plan, with 20GB available for paying users.
There are some buttons and ads for WPS Premium throughout the UI, which can be a bit annoying, but the premium plan costs just $35.99 per year, and you unlock all the features and templates the apps have to offer, so it's a pretty good deal. WPS Office is available for Windows, Linux, and macOS, as well as Android and iOS.
Finally, we have LibreOffice, a more classic-style alternative that's aimed at fans of earlier versions of Office. It's also arguably the most complete suite on this list.
This is an open-source project spun out of the OpenOffice.org project, and it features a wide range of apps, including Writer (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (PowerPoint), Base (Access), along with Math and Draw, giving you a lot of tools for different kinds of work. Having an alternative to Microsoft Access is certainly unique, and if you want to create and manage databases for free, this is the option to go to.
I'm not a big fan of LibreOffice's old-school UI, but it does have all the features you'd expect, and it certainly feels a lot better than alternative solutions like Apache OpenOffice, which is based on the same original project. LibreOffice Draw gives you a unique tool for creating images and diagrams, and Math helps you create mathematical formulas, so there's a good supply of tools here for more advanced users.
Unlike other apps on this list, LibreOffice is totally free, but you can donate to the project if you want to support its development. The apps are available for Windows, Linux, and macOS, but not on mobile devices.
Take your pick
There are more solutions out there if you want an alternative to Microsoft Office, but these offer the best experiences around. As I've mentioned above, options like Apache OpenOffice feel somewhat outdated, and another alternative, Polaris Office, has very intrusive ads in the free version, making it very hard to recommend.
Personally, out of these, I'd go for SoftMaker FreeOffice if I wanted a truly free solution, seeing as it's one of the few options that isn't constantly trying to sell you something, and it has a friendly UI. But if you're paying anyway, WPS Office is another great solution with a wide range of tools and a unique tab-based UI that makes it easier to manage your open documents. Either way, all five of these are great options, so it's up to your personal needs and preferences.
If you want to use Microsoft Office for free, another option is to use the Android app, which we chose as one of the best Android apps for Windows 11. It gives you a fairly complete suite of tools and it mostly works for free. And if you're looking for other ways to boost your productivity, maybe check out the best photo editing apps on the platform.