5 Best Free Alternatives to Microsoft Excel

13
Editor Ratings:
User Ratings:
[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

For anyone who only occasionally needs to use Excel spreadsheets, the thought of buying a Microsoft Office license, even at discount rates, can seem excessive. Thankfully there are a many free alternative to Microsoft Excel. Here are 5 of the best free alternatives to Microsoft Excel that we have come across.

OpenOffice.org Calc


Sponsored Links

OpenOffice is a full, free, open source Microsoft Office replacement that can load many files created by Microsoft Office. As the software’s compatibility is not officially supported by Microsoft, there are no guarantees that your files will work correctly, so there could be problems with anything but literal values and very simple formulas.

Obviously, this is not just a viewing tool but a full application suite, so be prepared for a large download and for the full installation to be greedy with hard disk space!

Due to the compatibility issues with Excel formulas and macros, and the resource requirements, perhaps see it as an Excel replacement rather than a compatibility tool.

IBM Lotus Symphony SpreadSheets

IBM Lotus Symphony is another full featured office suite to replace Microsoft Office. It has a Spreadsheets module that lets you open and create spreadsheets. You can add all type of formulas, and create graphs with your data.  Of course, as with OpenOffice, there can be some compatibility issues, but most of the spreadsheets should open seamlessly.

If you are short on resources, perhaps a piece of the cloud might be more ideal? …

Google Docs Spreadsheet

Google has been working hard to make an online Office suite called Docs, and as expected this has a spreadsheet editor built in that can import Excel files to work with. As with Open Office, expect to deal with some compatibility issues, but the solution is free and requires no installation.

It is worth thinking about this as many IT pundits see “cloud solutions” as some kind of nirvana, as because it is web-based, and requires no install, you can access your documents from anywhere, and your clients and colleagues do not require hands-on help to get up and running. Store your documents online and work on it from anywhere for free, with backups and security handled by Google.

As with OpenOffice, it is handy for more than just spreadsheets, including a word processor, calendar, email, etc.

That said, it is no Excel-beater in terms of features, and compatibility issues do exist with Excel formulas, data types, formatting and with macros. In fact the .xlsm extension is not supported at all.

EditGrid

EditGrid is a free online spreadsheet editor, much like the aforementioned Google Docs. The service was covered on this site before. Although it is a bit of a cheat in that it does not work with Excel macros, and the .XLSM extension is not supported for imports, it does support many of the Microsoft Excel formulas.

Being a web based spreadsheet, you simply sign up (free) and get working, no installation is necessary and you can store your document online and work on it from anywhere. Online collaboration is the main feature; multiple users can even edit the same spreadsheet at the same time.

Microsoft Excel Viewer

Microsoft Excel viewer is a free download from Microsoft and runs on all Windows versions from XP upwards.

Coming from Microsoft, this is the solution with the least amount of compatibility issues, after buying the full package. It is free and comes from a trustworthy source, so you can feel confident recommending it to clients or colleagues who need to access your spreadsheets.

The main downsides are firstly, it is a viewer only. You can not alter the spreadsheet.

Second, being Windows-only it rules out Mac and Linux users, but also you might be disappointed if for whatever reason you need to run it on older Windows computers such as ME and 2000.

Summary

In short, if you just need to view the spreadsheet, and you are running a modern version of Windows, then use Excel Viewer for best chance of compatibility. If you wish to create and modify spreadsheets, and can get them in an open-standard, then use OpenOffice. If you wish to work on the same documents from more than one computer or store them online, use Google Docs.

Obviously this was a quick run-down of the choices we know to exist right now. Do tell us in the comments if you can think of any other options or anything we have missed?

About the author

Yoav Ezer is the CEO of Cogniview, which produces PDF to XLS conversion software.

Prior to that, Yoav was the CEO of Nocturnus, a technology-centered software solution company.

Yoav also held several technological and command positions in MAMRAM, The Israeli Army Computer Corp.

Editor Ratings:
User Ratings:
[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]
  • Stephen Kelly

    Peepel also has an online spreadsheet – that is free.

    • http://www.ilovefreesoftware.com/ Ishan

      @Steve: Peepel spreadsheet has been on my list of software to be reviewed for quite some time :)

  • Andrew

    Have you ever considered SSuite Office’s Accel spreadsheet application as a free alternative to MS Excel?

    Their software also doesn’t need to run on Java or .NET, like MS Office and so many open source software, so it makes their software very small, efficient, and easy to use. :)

    http://www.ssuitesoft.com/accelspreadsheet.htm

  • http://www.registrycleanerbluebook.com/ Ryan Reston

    I use and love Google Docs Spreadsheet. Very similar to Excel and very easy to use. They actually just updated it and now you can edit the individual boxes in the header now. Where you used to have to double click on each individual box to edit the text. I like the auto-save feature as well so that I don’t forget to save anything.

  • DM

    Check out sofmaker office 2006 for both excel and word replica’s

  • Yoav Ezer

    @Stephen, Andrew and DM: Thanks for pointing these out. I am considering writing a revised list of Excel alternatives.

  • Pingback: SSuite Office Accel SpreadSheet - Free Spreadsheet | I Love Free Software()

  • Pingback: How to Create Lookup Function in Google Docs | I Love Free Software()

  • Pingback: Download Softmaker Free Office Suite | I Love Free Software()

  • http://www.graphsmadeeasy.com john sheppard

    For graphs, recommend a program called Graphs Made Easy (www.graphsmadeeasy.com ). It’s a free program to make great looking graphs in minutes. I would say it’s great – I work for them !

  • Not Impressed

    OpenOffice.org Calc is a bad choice if you want to do 50% of the same actions as Excel.
    Copy and “Paste as value” does not exist.
    You cannot reference cells that are themselves references in many functions.
    The graph features are questionable (e.g the trend line equation is often wrong).
    The PivotTable feature is flaky at best
     
    And the errors returned are stupid … “Err: 502″ means you typed something wrong.
     
    No wonder companies avoid this free software

    • Bartolomé Salom

      So your point is….?

  • rajthecoolperson

    I use and love Google Docs Spreadsheet. Very similar to Excel and very easy to use. They actually just updated it and now you can edit the individual boxes in the header now. Where you used to have to double click on each individual box to edit the text. I like the auto-save feature as well so that I don’t forget to save anything.

5 Best Free Alternatives to Microsoft Excel

by Ishan Bansal time to read: 3 min
13