4 MS Excel Alternatives to Enhance Your Analytical Skills in Just 7 Days

Do you know even today 7 out of 10 people don’t know about MS Excel Alternatives.!

Almost all Universities, Colleges, Schools, Business Houses, Financial institutions, use excel one or the other way.

According to Chandoo.org, “about 80% of high paying jobs require advanced Excel skills”


MS Excel is the first application that comes to our mind when we talk about Reporting or Analytical related stuff, indeed, it’s very well known fact and widely used spreadsheet application in the industry.

settingbox - MS Excel alternatives

Though we’ve many advantages using MS Excel, there is one big problem is always lies with it i.e. “cost”.

In this article, I’m going to talk about various MS excel alternatives that are available in the market and which one will best suites for you.

What is a spreadsheet?:

According to Wikipedia “A spreadsheet is an interactive computer application program for organization, analysis and storage of data in tabular form”.

In other words, Spreadsheet is a computer program designed to do multiple correlated works like Calculations, Analysis, Graphs, Reporting at one place.

All spreadsheets are not MS Excel, Excel is just one spreadsheet application. There are quite a few applications that will do similar kind of work. Let’s have a look.

MS Excel Alternatives for free of cost:

1) LibreOffice

LibreOffice is one of the well-known office application in the Linux community, if you happen to use Ubuntu (Linux distribution) you would’ve seen this application installed by default.

Background:

LibreOffice is an open source program with lots of community support for development and bug clearances. It’s a free office suite developed by The Document Foundation and it is a derivative of OpenOffice.org.

As per Wikipedia “LibreOffice has 120 million unique downloads between May 2011 to May 2015, excluding Linux distributions.”

Why LibreOffice..?

The first and foremost important question is why should I use LibreOffice..?

LibreOffice Example

Because It’s a free office suite available in the market with a bundle of new features. This suite comes with below software’s/packages.

  • Writer (in Microsoft terms “Word”)
  • Calc (Excel)
  • Impress (Power Point)
  • Draw (It’s a powerful diagramming tool, similar to Microsoft Visio)
  • Math (used to create powerful Mathematical formulas)
  • Base (Similar to MS Access)

Because LibreOffice supports 110 languages, hence literally there are no regional boundaries.

Because it has been developed & Supported by community of well known technical geeks with eminence technical knowledge.

Because it is available for all the major operating systems (Windows, Linux & Mac OS)

And most importantly, it is compatible with other office suites (you don’t have to worry about opening / editing files that was created in LibreOffice, with MS Office)

What about Excel:

Indeed “LibreOffice Calc” is pretty much similar to MS Excel, you can use most of the MS excel formulas in ‘Calc” as well. The user interface is also looks very neat & well organized.

Unlike Excel 2013, LibreOffice does not need high end hardware; it works flawlessly in 512mb RAM.

Since I use Ubuntu (Linux OS) in my laptop, LibreOffice has been installed by default, hence I use “Calc” for most of my requirements (even this article has been written using “Writer”).

Final call:

If you are the one who is looking for MS excel alternatives because of cost, then you may choose to download this office application and install in your system for all your requirements.

You can download from LibreOffice official website.

2) Apache Open Office: 

Apache office is a next project of “Open office.org”, initially it has been developed and maintained by Open office.org but later it has been contributed to Apache Software Foundation.

Unlike LibreOffice it is also backed by a community of experts in development and bug fixes. Open office example

Why Apache Open Office:

It’s an open source program available for free of cost and distributed under the Apache license with 110 languages support.

Developed for all the major Operating systems (Windows, Linux & Mac OS)

There are no issues with the compatibility

When it comes to Spreadsheet application, it looks similar to LibreOffice “Calc” and has all the functionalities like MS excel

Final call:

Unlike LibreOffice, the Open office does not have active development, as per Wikipedia since October 2014 there is no new version release so far.

You can download Apache open office from their official website according to your requirements.

So, as per my opinion, LibreOffice is a good option with active development & growing community support for all the future requirements.

Cloud-based Excel:

Cloud computing is one of the hottest topics in the industry. According to Right Scale about 93% of the people are using cloud services.

Rightscale Survey

So what is cloud computing?: As per Pcmag.com “cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive.”

The idea behind cloud computing is to reduce dependency on local storage and store everything in a secured, centralized location where users can access applications/data over the Internet for all his/her needs.

Just to give you an example, around 4 to 5 years back we were not able to edit e-mail attachments online, we used to download documents to the computer, then open them through “Word” then edit & send it to the user, but now we’ve an option to edit everything online then and there and send it to the user.

Ok, let’s see how we can use cloud computing options for regular excel requirements.

3) Microsoft Office Online:

Office online is a Microsoft’s free web-based (cloud) office suite available for all of us. To access these applications you need to have an active Microsoft e-mail account.

MS Excel online example

With Office Online, you’ll be able to access a bunch of applications (listed below) for all our requirements.

  • Word online
  • Excel online
  • PowerPoint online
  • OneNote online
  • Outlook & Calender

 

About the performance:

The interface, look & feel is very much similar to desktop versions of ms excel. One of the biggest advantage is, you can save documents to One drive to access from various places. You can also save copies of your workbooks to your desktop for Offline editing (having said that if you have an offline version installed in your computer)

I often use online applications for simple tasks, so far it’s fine with less complicated work. Since it is a free option that is available for us, we can use it for emergency requirements.

Currently office online has excel 2013 version, which is good, but the concern is excessive use of graphical interface, making excel to slow down when you have lots of data to work on.

Limitations:

  • One of the biggest limitation is – you always need to have Internet connection to access your files for editing/creating.
  • If you are a power user and wanted to use it for writing Macros and so on, then this option is certainly not for you.
  • Available options are very limited. Just to give you an example, there is no filter option available to select required information.

 

Final Call:

As per my opinion, if you are the one, who don’t like giving up using MS excel, but scared of the cost then you may use it for your basic requirements.

Having said that online version supports only a limited number of futures hence you may have to install other offline version (LibreOffice or Open-office) as a workaround.

4) Google sheets

Google online office applications are very simple, interactive applications with tons of widely used options available for free of cost.

Google-Sheets-example

Unlike MS office online Google sheets are not limited to only a few options, it has got almost everything to work without any difficulties.

When it comes to the online version of excel, I think Google sheets are one of the best cloud options. Google sheets work pretty much similar to Office online with much more sophisticated features.

Advantages:

  • One of the biggest advantages of Google sheets is Offline editing, you don’t have to worry about Internet connection anymore. You just need to enable Offline editing option once and make sure to install Google Drive in your computer to access your files for editing.

   I’ve tested offline version on my computer, it had worked like a champ.

  • And, whenever you download your wordbook from Google sheets, it’ll automatically convert that to Microsoft excel format to make it compatible. At the same time when you open your MS excel file using Google sheets it’ll also get converted automatically to work smoothly in Google sheets.
  • On top of everything, Google office application is free of cost, you just need to have Gmail account & Google Chrome installed in your computer. That’s all you need to work flawlessly.

 

Can you adopt in just 7 days?

Now that we know various alternatives for MS excel, I think the big question is still unanswered so far.

will you be able to adopt this change in 7 days..?

will be able to do the same kind of analysis again without excel..?

Indeed, though the above options are not exact replica of MS excel, but you can make it possible within 7 days. Because all of the above options are pretty much identical to MS excel.

If you think you are very good at analytical skills using MS excel, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t do well using other alternatives. But as per my experience it will take around 4 to 5 days to identify all options (like filter, sort, color, font.. Etc), so that is the reason why I’ve kept one week.

I think one week is a reasonable time to understand any of the above alternative spreadsheet applications, then there after you can work flawlessly.

Read also: How to save money using your credit card

Conclusion:

There is no doubt, MS excel is one of the very popular spreadsheet application with millions of users around the world, but when it comes to cost I think it is not affordable to all. That doesn’t mean you have give up, you can probably try free or opensource excel alternatives as explained above.

I’m pretty sure, there cloud be other alternatives apart from the above four, but to be honest, I’ve never tried those to recommend here. If any one of you happen to use other spreadsheet applications please feel free to comment below.