MS Office alternatives?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by SPG, Jan 20, 2004.

  1. SPG macrumors 65816


    Jul 24, 2001
    In the shadow of the Space Needle.
    My office is in the process of upgrading our macs to OSX. All our Video Edit and Production machines are running OSX, but now it's time for the bean counters and pencil pushers. Here's what we need:

    Read and write files compatible to MS Word and MS Excel.
    Read and write Japanese characters. (we can figure this part out ourselves)
    We don't need Powerpoint.
    MS Office vX is $399 a seat, and we need as many as 5 here and another 8 in our Japan office.

    Any recomends?
    Does Appleworks read and WRITE word docs and excel spreadsheets?
  2. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    OpenOffice 1.0.3 probably offers the best MS office compatibility, but you have to run it under X11. Depends on how much your pencil pushers like a pretty environment.
  3. ThomasW macrumors member

    Nov 27, 2003
    AppleWorks does read and write them, but the quality is not really that great.

    I would try NeoOffice/J from with the latest patch from here and KOffice from They are both free. If they don't fit your needs, try Thinkfree Office from It's much cheaper than Office, but has less features (no footnotes, etc.) Another option would be Mariner Calc and Mariner Write from

    Of all these applications, only NeoOffice/J, AppleWorks and Thinkfree Office can also save in Microsoft Office format, but the other applications can save their files in RTF/SYLK format which Office can import.

    NeoOffice/J has near-perfect support for Microsoft Office files (Sun Microsystems employs developers who do nothing else than improve Office compatibility in NeoOffice/J) and it's the only alternative that is as feature-rich as Microsoft Office. However, the other applications are better integrated in Mac OS X - NeoOffice/J has no Aqua interface.

    All applications support Japanese. NeoOffice/J, KOffice and Thinkfree Office even support Unicode - Microsoft Office for Mac will not support Unicode till Office 2004 comes out.
  4. ThomasW macrumors member

    Nov 27, 2003
    By the way, OpenOffice and NeoOffice/J are essentially the same application, but OpenOffice needs X11 to run, doesn't see all installed fonts and cannot copy/paste to other applications in Mac OS X. None of these limitations apply to NeoOffice/J with the latest patch.
  5. iindigo macrumors 6502a


    Jul 22, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    Someone is porting KOffice, the KDE office suite to OS X, and as far as I know, doesn't require X11 or Java.

    Google it, you'll find it
  6. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Doesn't Dixon Ticonderoga make a quality low-cost alternative to MicroSoft Office?
  7. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    I'm going to download it tonight and give it a go. It's around 700 megs :eek: (for everything) so it could take a while (I wish I had broadband).

    Choose Connect to Server from the Go menu and type to mount it. Then either copy the whole thing over to your HD (if you want to install on multiple computers), or just run the KDE.mpkg directly from the mounted volume.
  8. SPG thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jul 24, 2001
    In the shadow of the Space Needle.
    Thanks for the leads! I knew there were options. I'm going to look into these as soon as I finish my current project, so I'll probably have more questions to post here in a few days.
    Thanks again.
  9. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    Buy Office

    I assume you need compatibility inside and outside your office, that is, with others you do business with. Is it worth it to save a few dollars and struggle with reading and sending files to those you do business with? Is it worth it if old Word and Excel files don't render/work properly with an alternative? What if you can't read files sent by clients/customers? resumes of job applicants? Have the bean counters fugure out these hideen costs to switching.

    Let's face it, Mac users have a hatred for MS but Office is the de facto standard in business applications. I would never receommend my company look for an alternative.
  10. David Lundgren macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2003
    Albany, NY
    My Mac is my main business computer, used for database development, writing proposals, managing the money, updating the website, propping open the kitchen door, you name it.

    I looked all over for alternatives to Office. I'm not a Microsoft hater - I use their excellent Remote Desktop Connection program every day to go on customers' servers all over the place through VPNs - but I resent how intrusive Office is and it's tendency to try and take over the computer, as I perceive it.

    I ended up buying it because I have to have the export of data ability from Quickbooks to Excel, and I need absolute interchangability with Word. Think Free falls down on Word formatting pretty frequently, and their spreadsheet isn't compatible with Quickbooks.

    I liked Nisus Writer for the way it works, but for sharing proposals with PC users and saving in Word format, that didn't get it either.

    I hear a lot about Open Office, but now you're into X11 (which I have) and the interface is awful. Before someone says the interface doesn't matter, I'd ask what are we doing on the Mac in the first place, then?

    You gotta hand it to Microsoft sometimes, and Office works awfully well, at least for what I do. Now that I have it, it's on all day. I only use Word and Excel - prefer to stay with Apple for Mail and iCal, and have no need for Power Point. If I did, I'd get Keynote.

    I figure all the time I spent searching for an alternative and the (small) amount of money I spent for the Think Free license, I could have been working with Office.

    Just my perspective. Again, in my case we're talking a couple of computers in two locations locally, not across the world, but that's my experience.
  11. cubist macrumors 68020

    Jul 4, 2002
    Muncie, Indiana
    I second David Lundgren's point. I tried AW and OO and ended up buying Office. Yes, you're talking about spending somewhere around $6000, but if you get a cheaper alternative that doesn't work well, don't give it to the bean counters. Whatever you do, make sure they're happy!;) Give 'em the tools to do their job right.
  12. billyboy macrumors 65816


    Mar 15, 2003
    In my head
    Im all for trying new stuff and giving the underdogs a chance, but NeoOffice java? It may be worth a look in three or four years' time, but it hardly sounds an appropriate option for a company needing reliable software now to take over from Office.

    "As this is a development project, NeoOffice/J is intended for software engineers and is not yet complete enough for regular users."

    Dear Mr Beancounter, we saved a ton of money not buying office, but could you pleaaaase employ a couple of full time software engineers to keep finetuning the code for us.
  13. ThomasW macrumors member

    Nov 27, 2003
    Just try it. It crashes less than Office - never ;-)
  14. zamyatin macrumors regular

    Jul 15, 2003
    Why not buy one copy of MS Office, and install NeoOffice/J on the rest of your machines? Sure, people will moan for a while, but people always complain -- pay no heed. You can always let the most annoying employees buy and install their own copies of MS Office...

    If something is really not working, try it on the one copy of MS Office (though many companies install OpenOffice to read MS Office documents that MS Office itself cannot open). If potential hires are to send you resumes, insist on OpenOffice or PDF files. (You're hiring, you get to create any terms you want.) In general, PDF is replacing DOC as the standard interchange format anyway (except when editing is needed).

    But if you don't try OpenOffice, you'll be kicking yourself later for all the money you might have been able to save. I certainly wouldn't take the risk of not knowing!

    And NeoOffice/J ( is improving very quickly every week. Do check out its website and see what's been happening since you last visited!
  15. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    Too bad OpenOffice doesn't have a MS-Access clone. StarOffice doesn't even have a MS-Access clone. I wonder why it is such a difficult task for Microsoft to port MS-Access to the Mac.
  16. ingenious macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2004
    Washington, D.C.
    its not that

    its not that its so hard, its that apple wont let them so that filemaker will have a chance. I personally would use it anyway cuz its not made by M$.

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