Is there something similar to Office for Windows but free? I am student living on a budget, Office is not an option at the moment.

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    Doesn't your university/college offer cheap student licenses? – Ivo Flipse Aug 11 '09 at 15:41
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    unfortunately no I am from India but they are trying to cooperate with microsoft lately to help students so maybe in future I hope – Mohammed Aug 11 '09 at 15:53
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    You could always just use Google Docs or Zoho.com to get an online word processor ;-) – Ivo Flipse Aug 11 '09 at 16:18
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    I'm fascinated by the prices quoted in various answers for student editions. MS has made their pricing structure so complicated, no one can figure out what anything costs... – Michael Kohne Aug 12 '09 at 3:24

13 Answers 13


Try OpenOffice.org

Edit: Since the creation of this post, many if not most of the supporters of OpenOffice.org have migrated to LibreOffice, which was originally based on OpenOffice.org and now has a more active development than its parent project.

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    Great program. Easy to use. Just like microsoft, but without macros, so you elimintate some of the viruses you can get – The Green Frog Aug 18 '09 at 14:14
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    @Dynamic - You can write macros for OOo, it even has a VBA compliance mode to let it run some (but not all) macros designed for MS Office. – TJ L Aug 24 '09 at 20:21
  • This answer has a lot of traction. I wonder if in the interim period you have switched to LibreOffice? With the pace of development better handling of MS formats if you have switched, maybe you should edit the answer. (and I agree with the usefulness, it's all I've used for work, school, and at home for 2 years) – Dennis Oct 4 '11 at 19:12

There are a number of web-based Office services that are also free and offer some of the functionality of Microsoft Office, including:

Office Web Apps

Google Docs

Zoho Office

While these tend to lack the more advanced features of client-side Office suites, they do have excellent collaboration features.

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    Anyone else thinks this might actually become the top answer in about 2-3 years time? – Bruiser Sep 30 '11 at 11:55
  • Over two years later, still not the top answer. We'll see what the next year brings us. – basher Jan 31 '14 at 21:36

Search for your school through the MSDN Academic Alliance. Even if it's not free, it will be significantly cheaper (to the tune of $30 or less).

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    I have this through school and I love it! Unfortunately office isn't included :( Mostly Different versions of Windows and programs like Visual Studio and Virtual PC. – John T Aug 11 '09 at 15:49
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    Office products tend to not be included in the MSDN academic alliance in most places I have seen. – TheTXI Aug 11 '09 at 16:11

You didn't specify if you need MS-Office interoperability.

AbiWord for word processing has some interoperability with MS-Word, and seems popular for people who find OpenOffice too cumbersome.

For spreadsheets, there's also Gnumeric although they seem to be a bit unsure as to the stability of the windows build.

I use OpenOffice personally, which does a pretty good job overall, including easy production of PDFs, and MS-Office interoperability as far as Word and Excel goes.

And of course, there's Google Docs that others have mentioned.

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Libre Office is another new kid on the block, created by former OpenOffice.org developers who left following the Oracle buyout of Sun. It's fairly new but releases seem to be coming thick and fast!

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I know it's not free, but you can get Office 2007 Ultimate for $60 if you are a student. All you need is a .edu email address. Just go to www.ultimatesteal.com.

It looks like that program is just for the US, but they have similar programs in the UK and Canada.

Thanks to Gnoupi, here is the French version.

  • why do i have to be from US? – Mohammed Aug 11 '09 at 15:56
  • can they send to other countries? – Mohammed Aug 11 '09 at 15:57
  • I found versions for the UK and Canada. – scheibk Aug 11 '09 at 16:01
  • French version : student.officepourlesetudiants.fr – Gnoupi Aug 11 '09 at 16:02
  • if you can find india version that will be great... – Mohammed Aug 11 '09 at 16:10

If your school does not offer a cheap education version of office, Microsoft does make a $70 home and student edition if you need maximum compatibility.


EDIT: Newegg mentions a 3 user licence. So maybe you can get 3 people to go in on one.


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    Please verify, but I believe the Office Home and Student has a 3-user license, so perhaps you could get 2 of your classmates to chip in with you? – qxotk Aug 11 '09 at 16:21

You might check out Lotus Symphony.

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Another alternative not yet mentioned is LaTeX. It is not a wysiwyg editor like Word or Libreoffice, but it is specifically geared for publication quality typesetting, and especially useful for academic work. It has specific abilities to typeset math, and also has tools to work with a bibliographic database and automatically format your references and footnotes.

There are several free/open-source distributions, includeing mikTeX, and TeXLive.

Support websites include TeX.stackexchange.com and Latex-Community.org.

Examples of thesis templates exist here and on GitHub.

A good starting point for learning LaTeX is the wikibook.

See also the stackoverflow discussion is LaTeX worth learning today?


You may also want to try the Google office products: Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets and Google Presentation. Over the last year they have added a lot of features, such that now they are pretty close to what you'd find in a offie suite, minus the fancy features you'd never use. They also export quite nicely to Microsoft Office and other formats when you need to and you don't have to worry about loosing your work when your computer crashes or the program/browser crashes (they save automatically, almost too automatic).

Another option/new commer is Office Live--Microsoft's answer to Google Docs, etc. It has some nice features that Google Docs doesn't have, but is also free...so you can use both :)

Here is a comparison between the 2: http://www.pcworld.com/article/168309/microsoft_office_vsgoogle_docs_a_web_apps_showdown.html There are ofcourse many other comparisons out there.

Edit Another possibility is OpenGoo. It's an open source solution that you can install on your own server and manage yourself.

  • Define "pretty close." – Steve Rowe Aug 12 '09 at 7:41
  • Just took a look at right now, and I really can't see anything that I would use in Word that is missing in Google Docs, but for example, they only have 11 fonts. But something like this, I don't see being problem unless your trying to make something "fancy". – Darryl Hein Aug 12 '09 at 8:09

OpenOffice is overrated! If you want something very very close to MSOffice 2003, then get Kingsoft Office 2007 Personal (Free)

Perfect Option for the majority: For those who want basic features of Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel, simply get this FREE Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Edition.

Cute Koala photo inserted in Microsoft Word Starter 2010, Ad-Supported but Free!

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    Is it just me, or the entire work behind this program was only to copy exactly MSOffice 2003? I mean, at least OpenOffice is trying to be an alternative, even if it copies most of the original, it still provides something a bit different. This Kingsoft seems only made to copy the exact MS Office, and provide it for free. That may make some people feel better that they are not "pirating" the official version, but to me it feels the same, it's only an exact copy. – Gnoupi Jan 1 '10 at 11:18
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    Kingsoft Office is faster than OpenOffice, I have no problem with that... – thenonhacker Jan 21 '10 at 22:55
  • it's not free by the way, only 90-days trial – Sergey Aug 14 '11 at 7:27
  • there is a free version.. however, still far from MS Office. – Hoàng Long Apr 26 '13 at 8:52
  • What happens after the 90-day period? The website and program is a rather unspecific about that part. – Lorenz Lo Sauer Sep 1 '13 at 12:39

ThinkFree is actually a well executed Java clone of Office, and its free.

There was another one that did PowerPoint only, and did it really well, but I can't remember the name of it now

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SoftMaker Office 2010 for example. Perfect alternative, cheap, fast, lightweight.

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