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While my blog on Monday may have seemed a bit depressing, I am going to talk about something that could be useful. I am going to discuss Microsoft Office versus the freeware options. Last month, I was unable to renew my Office 365 option due to financial constraints. You know, not having a job and all. So, I was forced to go for a time without Office 365, which I love. I have been using it for years, not to mention you use much of it in an office environment, so having it at home was helpful.

 

It is important to understand that there are some people that refuse to pay Microsoft money for anything. Unfortunately, many of those people are stuck in the nineties and think boycotting Microsoft is still a cool thing. Just a piece of advice: it’s not. Boycotting Microsoft would be the same as boycotting Apple for their iPhone. It’s 2017. The rest of you that aren’t hippies probably boycott it because you think it’s still difficult.

Microsoft has gotten better with their more recent version of Office. I’m talking Word, Excel and OneNote. I use PowerPoint on occasion and never completely explored Publisher. Word has become more intuitive in the last couple of years. They manage to make changes and inserts more one-click than before. If you are using 2016 and not Office 365, then you are completely missing out. Price wise, it is a steal.

For $100 a year, you can get five keys, 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage and free apps for your iOS and Android device. So, if you have five members of your family using it for a year it would run you $8.34 a month. However, if you run it across five people, that is only $1.67 a month. If you think paying $100 a year is rough, then you probably are on that monthly Amazon Prime too. They have a $9.99 monthly option. However, after 12 months, it will cost you $119.88. I’ll let you do the math from there.

Their cloud network is great. However, I did notice the speed in which uploads/download occur are faster on Windows 10 than Windows 7. However, if you are still using Windows 7 at home, you are really doing life wrong. OneDrive is similar to Google Drive, but the limit is 1TB of storage space. That is versus the 5GB of free space they offer.

I use OneDrive for most of my daily operations. Even when I do my podcast for The Lazy Geeks, we use OneDrive to transfer audio files to one another. I have OneDrive synced between my laptop, desktop, my Android phone and my iPad. Interact with wireless devices is seamless. Even download speeds from the cloud are twice (if not more) as fast as downloading from Google Drive.

 

One of the more popular options is Libre Office. It is a fully free office software. It is very close to Windows, but it doesn’t have many of the bells and whistles. You receive what equates to Word, Excel, and Publisher. It has designed itself to be nearly a clone of Office but a bit more streamlined. It is popular among the Linux crowd and a pretty bare bones office suite. Their Calc, which is the equivalent of Excel, runs much like the Microsoft version.

I found their Word off-shoot a bit too cumbersome for me. Again, I was treated to the Microsoft version for a long time. Some issued I found hard to overcome was the insert of a link. They use more of the older version of Office for this feature. However, the “hyperlink” icon was hidden on the side table. Doing what I do here, that is a bit annoying, as it distracts from the workflow. Office, now, offers the link as a clickable option so no more cut and paste.

Libre does offer a spellcheck option, but the suggestions are rather ordinary. Microsoft’s spell and grammar check are very user-friendly. It will even correct names like PlayStation or iPhone if you make mistakes. I read that it was designed to be highly customizable, but I did not find it that way. It simply proved to remind me of why I missed Office. Also, spacing did not look pretty on the page. If you are like me, you write in a word format than paste it wherever you need it. There is no spacing in this program, but when you paste it into WordPress the spacing appears. So annoying.

 

The other I tried was Softmaker Free Office, which was similar in fashion to Libre. I found their set up to be a bit more of a hindrance. Defaults were difficult, if not impossible to change. Formatting was similar to Libre. They offer a pay version of the program, which is similar to Office 365. The paid version is just more of the bells and whistles. The free version does offer full functionality.

One of the better features of this program is full compatibility with DOC, DOX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, and PPT file formats. If you work with Word in the office and not at home, this will help you out. However, compatibility will be an issue if you use a post-2013 version of Word. I had some documents that I used in Office 365. However, when I edit the documents, I was only able to save them in an older DOC format. That could cause some formatting errors and strange symbols to appear.

In the end, Microsoft Office is the better program. The price of the service has come down a great deal. Not only that, they offer some extra benefits to be an Office 365 user. Not only do you get Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher and others, you get the cloud storage for each registered user. Keep in mind, for $100, you get five keys. Unlimited mobile apps. As well as the most current version of Office. No need to buy an upgrade. If I had to rank: Office, Libre and Free Office.