Whether its for writing a document, designing a presentation or tapping numbers into a spreadsheet, we all use Microsoft Office for something. But, Office is far from cheap and when a new version comes out, you're probably going to have to buy that to get all the best new features.
So, if you want to save some cash, we've rounded up the best bits of free office software you can download right now. While some, like AbiWord, are simply straightforward word processors, others, notably LibreOffice, are fully-fledged Office alternatives that are just as feature packed.
What makes them even better is that they are free and always updated, so you know you'll always have the best features. Many even work on a wide range of systems, so if you use a Mac at home and PC at work you're in luck.
This open source piece of software is completely free to download, yet it offers many features that are key to producing a good word processor. It's fully cross platform, meaning you'll be able to install and use it on everything from Windows to Mac. Compatibility for a load of formats is supported, including Words docs, Open Office, Real Text and even HTML pages and there is a pretty strong spell-checker that'll tidy up all those pesky grammatical errors. The range of language support is something that's really well done. Aside from the most common languages, there's also support for some lesser used ones.
Download AbiWord here
Aiming for simplicity and speed, Jarte is built upon Microsoft's WordPad engine, though adds in many more features. One of those features is full touch-screen support, so if you're rocking a Windows tablet, this works perfectly. Gestures too work great, with is another bonus. A particularly neat feature is that the app can completely run from a USB stick, or even from inside your Dropbox folder, so it's always going to be with you, whatever computer you're on. It's completely free, boasts basic document editing features like spell check, instant dictionary look-up and a tabbed view for quickly switching between your open documents.
One of the fullest feature packing Office competitors out there, LibreOffice is also completely free and works on Mac OSX along with Windows. You've got Writer for all you document editing and creation needs, Calc for spreadsheet work and Impress for whipping up lively and entertaining presentations. There is also a couple of other additions, including a particularly nifty Charts app that lets you easily create awesome looking, well, charts and graphs.
If you're lacking a bit of imagination, the templates library is home to loads of well designed starting points, while extensions, built by crafty developers, increase functionality even further.
Apache Open Office
Alongside LibreOffice, Open Office from Apache is another big player in the free Office alternative space. Just like Libre, it features a whole suite of apps, from a word processor to a presentation creation client, meaning it can completely replace Microsoft Office. Support for all major file types is here and the design of the whole suite is modern and classy, it doesn't look like something you've just downloaded for free. The spell checker is accurate and works across all parts of the product and the constant updates ensure bugs are quashed as quickly as possible.
Kingston Office Suite Free 2012
The final Microsoft Office alternative we're going to detail is Kingston's free suite, which packs Writer, for editing documents, along with strong presentation and spreadsheet altering and creation tools. There are a load of downloadable templates, from letters to invitations and these can be a real time saver when you quickly need to whip something up at short notice. Multiple documents can be opened and flicked through in a tab view, so you don't have to fuss around with loads of separate windows and there's a PDF converter built right in, which is another nice addition.