For IT departments without a big budget or ones looking to save money, there are a lot of web-based or free desktop alternatives to expensive commercial software such as Microsoft Office. Many of these are as good as or in some cases better than the more expensive software.
These are primarily desktop based software, but there are a lot more online alternatives to Microsoft Office. As SaaS (Software as a Service) grows we can expect to see more powerful alternatives in the future.
1. Document Editing and Management (alternative to Microsoft Office)
OpenOffice Suite includes Writer a word processor alternative to Microsoft Word, Calc a spreadsheet alternative to Microsoft Excel, Impress and Draw are presentation and drawing tools alternatives to Microsoft PowerPoint and Base is a database alternative to Microsoft Access.
The current OpenOffice.org 3.0 has versions for Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Solaris, Linux, Mac OS X and Java.
For more information visit the OpenOffice.org web site.
2. Project Management Software (alternative to Microsoft Project)
OpenProj is a free, open source project management solution and a direct replacement for Microsoft Project. OpenProj is ideal for desktop project management and is available on Linux, Unix, Mac or Windows.
It even opens existing Microsoft or Primavera files. OpenProj shares the industry’s most advanced scheduling engine with Project-ON-Demand and provides Gantt Charts, Network Diagrams (PERT Charts), WBS and RBS charts, Earned Value costing and more.
3. Email and Calendar Software (alternative to Microsoft Outlook)
Mozilla Thunderbird with the Lightning or Sunbird calendar add-on is a free alternative to Microsoft Outlook email and calendar software. Thunderbird offers POP3 and IMAP support, filters out junk mail, sorts incoming messages using rules, spell checks (VITAL!), phishing protection and RSS feed support.
Use the Lightning Calendar add-on if..
- you send or receive meeting invitations via email
- you already use Mozilla Thunderbird for email
- you customize your applications with add-ons (such as extensions or themes)
Use the Sunbird Calendar add-on if…
- you prefer your calendar to be separate from your email client
- you don’t currently use Mozilla Thunderbird for your email
- you don’t like adding add-ons (such as extensions or themes) to your applications
4. Notebook Software (alternative to Microsoft OneNote)
Winner of the 2008 Open Web Blogger’s and People’s Choice Awards, Evernote definitely deserves all the hype it’s been getting. Evernote allows you to capture information in any environment, then organize and search it. Create tasks, to-dos, notes, research, capture web pages, create white boards, pictures, and more.
Evernote comes in desktop, web and mobile version such as the iPhone, Windows Mobile and U3 USB drives. Evernote is available for Windows, Mac and the web version with any platform. With the recently announced demise of Google Notebook, Evernote now has an import tool!
For more information visit the Evernote web site.
5. Diagram Creation Software (alternative to Microsoft Visio)
I will grant you there are not a lot good free alternatives to Microsoft Visio. Not everyone has a use for Visio, but IT departments in particular use it. Dia is a open source alternative worth looking at. It can be used to draw many different kinds of diagrams. It currently has special objects to help draw entity relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, and many other diagrams.
OpenOffice Draw mentioned above may meet your needs as well.
For more information visit the Dia web site.