Microsoft Office is the general standard when it comes to business or educational computing software in this day and age. Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint individually have been around for quite a long time and have their own specific use that have been molded to near perfection over the course of the past decade. With the necessity to have these programs installed on your computer being so prominent, Microsoft has priced the Microsoft Office Suite to be relatively expensive resulting in an unnecessary burden for many consumers who can't afford the software for their own machines. Check out these free or low-cost alternatives to the expensive Microsoft Office Suite.

openofficeOption #1: Open Office

Price: Free to use (click here to download)

Supported Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X

Open Office has been around for a long time and is an excellent alternative to Microsoft Office. There are individual programs that substitute for Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Word. When using Open Office you can save your files to Microsoft Office compatible formats (such as .doc, .ppt, .xls, etc) and you can also open up these documents on your machine via Open Office. The software is available on virtually any operating system and is open-source with no cost to use. The free license is good for personal and commercial use with no fine print.

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Option #2: Google Drive (aka Google Docs)

Price: Free to use (click here to sign up)

Supported Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X

Google Drive formerly known as Google Docs has been around for several years now and is a serious competitor to Microsoft Office. You can create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations quickly and easily using an interface that is very similar to Office. One of the most useful features about Google Drive is that you can share your files with friends, classmates, or co-workers who can collaborate together with you in real-time. If you are using the web based Google Drive client, you will be required to have an active Internet connection, but you can get around this by enabling offline editing through the Chrome browser and downloading a free app from the Chrome Web Store.

Option #3: NeoOfficeneooffice

Price: $10 (click here to download)

Supported Platforms: Mac OS X

NeoOffice was created back in 2003 when there was no Mac OS X  version of Open Office available. Now there may be Open Office support for Mac, but NeoOffice boasts they have better performance and features that are not found in any other software. Improvements and updates are added regularly which recently included supported for Retina displays and Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

 

Option #4: iWorkiwork example

Price: $60 (click here to purchase)

Supported Platforms: Mac OS X

iWork is Apple's official version of the Microsoft Office Suite and it features three pieces of software. Pages allows you to create formatted documents like you would in Microsoft Word. Numbers lets you edit numbers or data in a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel, and lastly Keynote allows for slide-show creation much like Microsoft PowerPoint would allow. Each piece of software individually (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) are only $20 each through the Mac App Store so you can save money by purchasing only the software you need or still save a great deal of money by purchasing all three as it is only $60 compared to the $100+ price tag that Microsoft Office retails for.

Photo Credit: Niall Kennedy