Microsoft Office 356 vs. the Free Alternatives: Why Office is Still King

If you regularly deal with documents, spreadsheets, and even take digital notes, then there’s a very good chance you’ve at least heard of Microsoft Office 365, even if you don’t currently use it. Below, you can learn more about Office 365 vs the traditional product and why it still reigns supreme over the various freeware alternatives like OpenOffice and LibreOffice.  What is Microsoft Office 365? Microsoft Office 365 is the cloud-based version of Microsoft’s ever-popular Office suite. The suite itself comes with a host of helpful productivity tools, including Word (word processing), Excel (spreadsheets), Outlook (email client), and even OneNote (collaborative note-taking and filing software). With traditional Office products, you can only use them locally. However, with Microsoft Office 365, you can take your suite anywhere as long as you are connected to the internet. Office 365 also offers affordable monthly billing in exchange for free updates to the latest versions of each of its productivity tools.  Open-Source Microsoft Office 365 Alternatives Despite Microsoft Office 365’s reputation for being the best productivity suite on the market, there are several competitors out there offering similar products for free. The two most popular are OpenOffice and LibreOffice, which each offer both desktop and mobile versions of their tools. To properly compare the open-source models with Microsoft 365, it’s important to look at a few different categories.  User Interface and Ease of Use: Every single open-source productivity tool suite on the market has been modeled after Microsoft Office. This is true of not only LibreOffice and OpenOffice, but also of Google G Suite, which is Google’s own productivity suite that is free for consumers and available at cost to larger businesses. Microsoft Office 365 is the king in terms of usability thanks to unique functions like Smart Lookup and the Recent Documents feature available in Outlook to make sending an email even easier.  Functionality on Different Machines: All three suites tend to use about the same amount of resources, which means they will all run similarly on various machines. It should be noted that OpenOffice and LibreOffice often struggle to function properly with the latest Windows 10 updates, but they do eventually catch up.  Customer Support: Microsoft’s customer support is incredibly helpful, and in fact, you will probably never even need to take advantage of most of your options. Not only do you get Microsoft official support, but you also get additional help from a bevy of licensed vendors, numerous free self-help books, YouTube videos, and more made exclusively for Microsoft products.  Remote Access and Share-ability: Finally, when it comes to collaborating on documents with others, Microsoft Office 365 is the best way to go. It introduced web collaboration in 2010 and has continued to improve it over the last decade, especially with the addition of One Drive (once known as Sky Drive), that allows you to save your files in the cloud. Though freeware can save you a bit of money when it comes to your productivity tools, Microsoft Office 365 remains the best option. It offers better support, it is optimized to run on Windows 10 (like many business computers do), and it comes with collaboration features that simply cannot be duplicated elsewhere. Microsoft Office 365 also pairs nicely with various email security measures and antivirus options, too, making it incredibly user-friendly.   

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