Page 2 – Google Suite, LibreOffice, and Markdown
From One Giant to Another – Google Suite
If you don’t mind putting your eggs (and your data) in Google’s basket, the search giant has an amazing set of Office tools available for free. It integrates with any Google account, whether you have a Gmail address or your organization uses Google Apps. You can add and open office documents straight from the Gmail interface with just the press of a button.
When you receive Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint files, they’re easy to import. Google has equivalent apps for each – Docs, Sheets, and Slides. The most common fonts and formatting choices are there. You also get an extensive add-on gallery with templates and other tools to make it even easier to create professional documents. The only “gotcha” here is that you have to be online to make the most of Google’s office suite.
* Fully compatible with Microsoft Office
* Creates gorgeous documents
* Easy collaboration
* Extensive add-on gallery
* You’re potentially sacrificing your privacy to Google
* Most features rely on Internet connectivity
Stick With Open-Source and Use LibreOffice
If you’re used to Microsoft Office before the ribbon came about, you’ll feel right at home with LibreOffice. This software is a bit cumbersome at times, but once you get used to it, everything you need is right there. When you download LibreOffice, you get a full-featured offline suite of office applications. It’s compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and even Publisher.
The apps within LibreOffice will open and edit any of Microsoft’s files, and you will have full control over your font and formatting choices. Even more features and document templates are available through LibreOffice’s dedicated websites.
* Fully compatible with MS Office
* Offline apps have full functionality
* Extensions and templates readily available
* No collaboration with MS Office users
* All of the apps launch from one big bundle
* Complicated interface
Go Barebones and Learn Markdown
Here’s a crazy thought, but if all you do is create text documents, Markdown might be the way to go. Markdown isn’t an app, it’s a syntax. You can quickly apply formatting to your documents just by putting hash marks (#) or other symbols in front or around them. The primary benefit to Markdown is that you can create a document fully formatted, without ever lifting your fingers from the keyboard. It exports cleanly to HTML, and you can even create rich-text documents or PDFs from it, depending on the Markdown client you’re using. My personal preference, by the way, is Byword. With Byword, a free app with in-app purchases for more features, you can even export to Microsoft Word.
* Simple, but powerful
* Creates clean HTML and rich-text documents
* Formatting without lifting your fingers from the keyboard
* Changing fonts within a document is difficult
* Requires learning the Markdown syntax
* Not as full-featured as other options
Can You Put Microsoft Behind You?
With these alternatives (and there are plenty more), do you think you could put Microsoft behind you? The most common Microsoft tools are easily replaced with free options. You might think that free would mean limited usability, but we’ve seen that most of the alternatives available actually have more features than MS Office. Yes, you really can put Microsoft behind you and never look back.