Review roundup: Dumping Microsoft Office for an alternative suite

There are alternatives for both Mac and Windows -- even if you need Office compatibility

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Page 2
Page 2 of 7

One of the first things you notice about Pages is that it isn't just a word processor. It also has extensive (and very intuitive) page-layout features, making it a tool that can replace not only the capabilities of Word but also those of Publisher. This is great if you need to make signs or design newsletters, or if you just want to have fun laying out all kinds of richly styled projects filled with graphics. You can make something that looks like it took hours in only a few minutes.

Apple's Pages can export a Word document. ()

Keynote is a powerful presentation tool that I found easier and more exciting to use than PowerPoint. It includes a wide range of polished templates that make presentations really pop. Since it integrates tightly with Apple's iTunes and iLife suite of media products, incorporating photos, video and audio into your slides is a breeze.

Keynote's templates are polished. ()

As impressive as iWork is, I found that it has two Achilles' heels when it comes to serving as an Office replacement: It doesn't include a spreadsheet tool (rumors are nice, but they don't get the job done here and now), and it doesn't offer complete compatibility with Office documents. I was able to open Word and PowerPoint documents -- albeit not from the Office 2007 versions -- complete with formatting and inline images. However, neither application can save files directly as Office documents, though both support exporting files in Word or PowerPoint format. There are also some things Word can do that Pages can't, such as tracking revisions to a document.

Thinking free

Since iWork didn't quite hit the mark as a true alternative to Office, I kept looking and trying other options. Of those, the next one worth mentioning is ThinkFree Office. Considering its low price ($50), I wasn't certain if I should expect much. However, ThinkFree Office, which offers alternatives to Word, Excel and PowerPoint, turned out to be a great product.

I was downright shocked at how closely the look and feel is to Office (though it is much more like Office 2003 for Windows than like any Mac release). I was also impressed at its ability to open and save Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents (with the exception of Office 2007 formats) with no compatibility problems. I even discovered excellent support for Office templates and document formatting.

ThinkFree looks and feels a lot like Microsoft Office -- albeit the Windows version. ()
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Page 2
Page 2 of 7
It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon