When people think of work or productivity suites, which are programs used to create files such as documents (by word processors, spreadsheets, and presentations) for business and other purposes, the first thing that comes to the minds of most computer users is Microsoft Office (primarily Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). They are without a doubt the most popular programs for the three categories mentioned above, and have even more programs that serve other purposes. They also get updated by Microsoft every 3 years since 2007 in one way or the other, whether it’s in design or functionality. It’s available on laptops as well as mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
However, all this understandably comes with a price per year, and not everyone may want to use it. Apart from that, people may not use a Windows system or even a laptop at all, so they may want to use an alternative system that may work with whatever device they’re using. And finally, it may come down to preference. With that being said, I want to talk about two main alternatives to Microsoft Office and their pros for those who are looking for something else.
The first of these that I would like to mention is iWork, which is Apple’s in-house work suite alternative to Microsoft Office for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. This consists of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, and has been around since 2013. The first one of these, Pages, is the iWork counterpart to Microsoft Word, the same with Numbers/Excel and Keynote/Powerpoint. Their interface is a lot more streamlined than Microsoft Office with more of a focus on appearance in contrast to the latter’s business-oriented style while still making the basic functions easy to find and access.
In some kinds of files which these applications make, such as in Keynote, there are different and more flashy transitions than what you have in most PowerPoint versions (as is Apple’s area of expertise, which is meant to appeal to designers as part of their marketing strategy). It was initially something to pay for from the App store and Mac App Store, but with the release of the iPad Air and other iOS devices around that time, it was included with the purchase as well as iMovie and GarageBand, and was eventually made free for all Apple users in the end.
The other such alternative is Google’s G-Suite. This consists of Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. This is mainly a cloud-based set of programs that operates on browsers rather than as individual apps on their own. Even on a Chromebook, which is Google’s own desktop OS, they open via Chrome only. It’s been around since 2006 which is older than iWork but it’s relatively more simple. It can be found as part of the Google app selection on the search engine page. They do however have applications on both Android and iOS.
All three work suites are tied to their respective e-mail integration services, which also come with online storage. Microsoft Office is tied to a Windows Live Outlook (formerly known as Hotmail) account with OneDrive cloud storage; iWork is tied to the iCloud e-mail and storage service, and G-Suite is tied to Gmail and Google Drive. They also feature online versions of their applications that run as webpages. There are also some different font selections across all their programs.
As mentioned earlier, it depends on your preference or which one you’re more familiar with to choose any one of these work suites, but they all get the job done. If you have a Windows laptop, you’re likely to go with Microsoft Office. If you use a Mac or an iPad and have an aversion to or otherwise don’t use Windows, you’re likely to go with iWork. And if you use a Chromebook, you’ll likely have G-Suite as the only native working option.
As for a business or a school, regardless of which work suite they choose, they can have collaborative documents and projects which can be accessed via invite and edited by multiple people on the online version of the file. It would be best for them to have students or workers all using the same work suite.
So depending on what it is you want out of a work suite, whether it’s for official purposes or making files interesting to follow, or just what OS you use in general, you will want to consider one of these three. If you just want something that functions properly and you don’t have specific requirements, then any of these will do just fine.