Microsoft Office provides the standard word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and email program used in most businesses, large and small, at least in the U.S.A.
As a result, there is also a very sizeable home market for Office — a large enough market that Microsoft has marketed specific "Home, " "Personal,"or "Home and Business" or "Home and Student" versions for direct purchase and for subscription purpose, as well as educational versions such as Office 365 University, to provide these same basic programs (sometimes excluding Outlook, the email program, from the home package).
Microsoft has very strict license limitations in these Home, Personal and University versions, though. You can find these supplemental terms on the web at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/useterms If you need to use Office 365 for a business, you should spring for one of the Small Business subscription versions.
Fortunately, there are highly-compatible free software alternatives like LibreOffice.
Free? Yes. Free to download, free to use, free for business use, free for home use, free for non-profit use, free to use on multiple computers. Freedom. It is also open-source software and very compatible with Microsoft Office.
LibreOffice began as a branch off of OpenOffice, and has matured significantly from that stage. It has added functions, increased compatibility with Microsoft Office, fixed bugs, and generally has become much easier to use. LibreOffice has reached the version 5 level now.
They provide two different versions for regular users. The LibreOffice website says it best: "LibreOffice Still is the stable version that has undergone more testing (over a longer time). Users interested in taking advantage of our most innovative features should download and use our fresh version. LibreOffice Fresh is the stable version with the most recent features." Currently these are v5.06 (214 MB) and v126.96.36.199 (211 MB), respectively. In both cases, the Help files are a separate, optional 5 MB download.
The functions/programs included in LibreOffice are: word-processing (Writer, compare to Word), spreadsheet (Calc, compare to Excel), presentation (Impress, compare to Powerpoint), drawing (Draw – no Office equivalent), Base (database), math formulas (Math – no Office equivalent), and charting (Charts). LibreOffice does not include an email program (Thunderbird is the one I use).
The LibreOffice site has a link to a detailed feature comparison between LibreOffice and Microsoft Office, located at https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Feature_Comparison:_LibreOffice_-_Microsoft_Office .
The installation process has some useful selections. Unlike the blatant grab that Office does, regardless of whether some other program is already the default for them, LibreOffice gives you checkboxes to select whether to make it the default for Microsoft Word documents, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, Microsoft Powerpoint presentations, and Microsoft Visio documents.
Since I have Office 2013 installed, I selected only the Visio documents to default to LibreOffice (Office does not include Visio).
One of the things I didn’t like about early OpenOffice versions of its spreadsheet software was a user-incompatibility with Excel. File compatibility was pretty good, but entry of formulas wasn’t the same.
Excel would allow you to start a formula with either an equals sign (=) or a plus sign (+). OpenOffice, however, required an equals sign, or it treated the cell as a text entry (+5+5 resulted in "+5+5" not 10).
LibreOffice has solved this — starting with either an equals sign (=) or a plus sign (+) results in a formula, not a text value. Yea!
I’ve found LibreOffice easy to use, and have installed it on all my computers that don’t have Microsoft Office.
Where do you get LibreOffice?