An Alternative to Microsoft Office?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve pretty much grown up using the Microsoft Office tools in both your work and personal life. Have you ever really considered anything else? The most common of the Office tools seem to be Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, which many people use so exclusively that their names have become synonymous for what they offer. For instance, how often do you refer to that thing you blow your nose with as a facial tissue instead of calling it a Kleenex?

You may not realize it, but there are some pretty good alternatives out there, and Google provides some of the biggest competition with their online tools such as Docs (Word), Spreadsheet (Excel), and Presentation (PowerPoint). Now, you might be asking, “Why would I want to switch from my beloved Microsoft?” Google advocates would probably give you a number of reasons, but I’m going to give you only one.  They are FREE! The Google tools, including all upgrades, are free for home users whereas Microsoft requires you to purchase licenses for their products. Those prices vary depending on whether you’re buying the entire suite or individual products, but be prepared to shell out upwards of $150 if you want them all.

Comparing features of each individual product is pointless; Microsoft is going to win hands-down simply because it was created as a professional suite, designed to perform many advanced functions. Think of the Google equivalents as being slimmed down versions, intended to perform the basic functions necessary for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. If you require those advanced features, stick with Microsoft.

As a mobile user, you may begin to see an advantage if you’re working from a device (tablet or phone) that runs Android instead of Windows. With the Google tools, you can create your documents without using Windows or Microsoft Office, and the capability for sharing those documents with others is built right into the tools themselves via Google Drive. Truly, the Google tools were invented particularly with this thought in mind; you can create documents on-the-go as opposed to sitting at your PC and then uploading them to the web.

Whether you decide you want to replace your Microsoft Office tools completely, or simply supplement your mobile world, it’s going to involve some research based on your individual needs. Seeing as they’re available at no cost, it may be worth it to give Google’s products a try.  It’s as simple as signing up for a Google account, which is also free!

I’d be very interested in what you discover – I myself have not made the leap – so let me know how it goes!

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