Which Microsoft 365 alternatives are recommended for which companies?

Despite Microsoft 365 being impressive with its range of functions and features, some companies are still looking for suitable alternatives, whether it is due to the subscription model not being viable for the company, the range of functions being too large, or the cost simply being too high. We have examined different Microsoft365 alternatives on the market for you.

Microsoft 365 alternatives: functions and options

The wide range of functions offered by Microsoft Office is a major advantage for many users and one of the main reasons why Office is still the standard tool used in most companies. To be considered a good alternative to Microsoft 365, a tool has to provide many of the same functions as the market leader.

The role of the Exchange Server

Data exchange plays a major role in companies, and collaborating on documents and processes is becoming increasingly important. As with the Hosted Microsoft Exchange solution from IONOS, the main focus here is high availability and version history. Many companies still rely on Microsoft Office for this reason, since there are only a few suitable options available which offer these functions, such as Google Cloud’s G Suite and the OX App Suite. You should therefore pay extra attention to this aspect when looking for a good alternative to Microsoft 365. Many companies use Exchange Server and have to search for workarounds if they have chosen an unsuitable alternative.

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Accepted file formats

Another key aspect is file formats. An alternative to Microsoft 365 must be able to generate files which can be read by users with the Microsoft Office package and process files created by it. After all, Microsoft 365 is widely used in the business world, and it is not always possible to provide documents in a free readable PDF format. So, if you want to collaborate on documents with business partners, partner companies or even customers, you should think about how to integrate the required file formats. This is the only way to ensure that data can be exchanged freely between the various programs. For this reason, we have not included alternatives to Microsoft 365 in the comparison which do not allow for this.

GDPR compliance

Another important point is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and making sure programs are compliant. Microsoft Office has already assumed a leading role in this matter and has impressed with its consistent and exemplary implementation of the GDPR. This provides business owners with the massive advantage of not needing to spend much time thinking about this topic. GDPR compliance can prove to be problematic for some alternatives, especially for the free ones. When considering Microsoft 365 alternatives, data protection must not be overlooked under any circumstances.

An overview of Microsoft 365 alternatives

We have compiled an overview of Microsoft 365 alternatives for you. Needless to say, there are many more alternatives in addition to the ones presented here, but we will be going over the most popular solutions.

OpenOffice

OpenOffice has been established as an alternative to Microsoft 365 for quite some time. This free-to-use program offers almost the full range of features provided by the Office package, but it differs significantly in some of the finer details of its application. This alternative is a particularly good choice for self-employed people and small companies as it effectively minimises costs. However, you will have to get used to the program’s alternative interface and minimalistic appearance when using it. For instance, many functions are difficult to find at first glance.

Advantages

Regular updates and extensions ensure stability and security. OpenOffice also makes it possible to integrate many functions via updates and plug-ins. It allows you to easily read documents from Microsoft Office and create documents in the required file formats. In addition, the program uses very little memory, which appeals to many users.

Disadvantages

Despite being developed as an alternative to Microsoft 365, OpenOffice is nowhere near able to provide the full range of functionality offered by Microsoft’s solution. Most notably, features frequently used by companies, which are considered to be standard among Microsoft’s competition, are not included in this package. The primary target audience for OpenOffice is thus private users.

G Suite by Google Cloud

G Suite by Google Cloud is the professional version of Google Apps and is free to use for private users. G Suite offers a wide range of functions and supports them through the power of Google’s architecture. As a result, companies that already use many Google services are increasingly turning to this solution.

Advantages

In addition to being able to use Office file formats without any problems, this Microsoft 365 alternative allows you to use Google services easily and without limitations from any location. Prioritised support and a comprehensive portfolio of services and solutions round out this package. This solution allows for real-time collaboration and provides unlimited online storage which makes it highly scalable.

Disadvantages

G Suite has hardly any disadvantages. However, those who are sceptical of Google and its parent company Alphabet and have not yet worked with its various solutions will probably be better off with another Microsoft 365 alternative.

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LibreOffice

LibreOffice was originally a spinoff ofOpenOffice and is thus based on the same architecture. However, the developers evidently found OpenOffice’s minimalistic approach to be lacking, so they re-established many convenience functions in the new LibreOffice. This free-to-use Microsoft 365 alternative is a particularly good solution for self-employed people.

Advantages

Due to its similarity to Microsoft Office, this program is very beginner friendly and easy to use. It supports the common file formats, so you can also read, edit and save Office documents. Its simple user interface and basic functionality also reduce the use of memory, which is why the program is particularly good for use with weaker hardware.

Disadvantages

LibreOffice was developed to meet the needs of private users and therefore only offers a very limited portfolio of options desirable to companies. More specifically, this Microsoft 365 alternative does not allow for collaboration or the fast and easy exchange of files. Special features can be integrated into the solution, but they usually have to be developed by the users themselves, which can be very costly and often only results in errors.

OX App Suite

On the other hand, the OX App Suite offers many of the functions users want right out of the box. It also complies with many of the data protection requirements that international markets place on companies. In addition, users benefit from its clear and straightforward menu navigation and wide range of functions, enabling practically any Office suite task to be easily and effectively performed with the OX App Suite.

Advantages

The OX App Suite primarily stands out through its wide range of functions which is equal to that of Microsoft 365. In addition, it offers comprehensive Office integration with all file formats as well as an elegant email solution which includes online storage and matching email addresses for your company.

Disadvantages

When using the OX App Suite as your Microsoft 365 alternative, you will have to get used to a new user environment. This will initially mean making a major adjustment to the different programs and their layers. However, once you have adjusted, you will not regret the switch.

iWork for iCloud

iWork for iCloud is Apple’s own alternative to Microsoft 365. This solution is popular among companies that already own Apple peripherals and are more likely to use these programs natively as a result. Anyone who is currently part of the Microsoft ecosystem and thus does not use Apple devices in the company will have little to gain from this solution. However, if you have the required devices, iWord can be a very good Microsoft 365 alternative and will impress you with its performance and options.

Advantages

This free-to-use solution is ideal for Apple users. It is completely iOS compatible and can be used without limitations on all Apple devices: MacBooks, iMacs, iPads and iPhones. It also enables collaborative work (e.g. a document being simultaneously edited by multiple users).

Disadvantages

Using iWork for iCloud only makes sense for companies with an existing Apple architecture. While this alternative to Microsoft 365 can also be used on Windows PCs, you will have to work with the online versions of Apple Pages, Numbers and Keynote which are limited in functionality. The added value of iCloud is thus really only present when it is used with the Apple operating system. Many tablets and smartphones (e.g. Android phones) do not (yet) support iWork for iCloud.

An overview of the various alternatives to Microsoft 365

  Microsoft 365 OpenOffice G Suite LibreOffice OX App Suite iWork for iCloud
Developer Microsoft Apache Software Foundation Google The Document Foundation Open-Xchange Apple
Release year 2011 2002 2006 2011 2013 2013
Simultaneous editing (collaboration) Yes possible but limited Yes possible but limited Yes Yes
Cost ** free *** free * free
GDPR compliant Yes No Yes No Yes Yes

Conclusion: each Microsoft 365 alternative has its own advantages and disadvantages

When you choose an alternative to Microsoft 365, you often benefit from the different advantages each one provides. For example, companies can benefit from an alternative if the range of options provided by the Office suite is too broad or does not meet their requirements. GDPR should also always be complied with so that you can benefit from the alternative you chose over the long term.

When choosing a Microsoft 365 alternative, you should not rush the decision. Take your time to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages against each other, since these alternatives are usually used over the long term. Solutions such as G Suite by Google Cloud and the OX App Suite can also properly replace Microsoft 365 in a professional setting. However, if all your peripherals, including Exchange Server, are designed for Office, you will need to give considerable thought to which Microsoft 365 alternative to use. Sometimes, it makes more sense to keep using the market leader and benefit from its many advantages and excellent update policy.


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