7 Smart Alternatives to Microsoft Excel, at Lower Costs

Take a look at 7 feature-packed, useful alternatives to MS Excel. Keep these spreadsheet links handy to get more value from your office tools and applications.

Microsoft Excel – the popular spreadsheet application that sets benchmarks for all others, brims with smart functions and helpful features to keep office operations flowing smoothly. However, having MS Excel as the only spreadsheet application resource, especially if you are running a small business, can be an expensive proposition. These low-cost and free alternatives to MS Excel will cater to your business needs and save you good money.

Google Sheets in Google Drive

Google Sheets, a cloud based application of Google Drive, features various formatting tools, data-entry components and easy-to- use formulas. Though this spreadsheet application boasts of standard charts only, it provides several Excel-like data validation techniques like pivot tables and macros. Its map charting tool allows for accurate charting of data. Google spreadsheets help you create invitations and surveys that can be shared via email or published on the web. The under-mentioned benefits of Google Sheets will make this online tool a must-have for your business too.

  • Cloud Storage – All you need is a mobile/ computer device with internet connectivity to access the Google spreadsheets saved on Cloud.

  • Collaboration –You can share Google Spreadsheet documents with others and permit them to incorporate edits and comments simultaneously. This functionality paves the way for better teamwork and project management capabilities.

  • Google Apps Script – This Google Sheets feature provides the scope for additional programming, running of scripts, and easy connectivity to APIs.

Zoho Sheet

Zoho sheets are very useful for empowering your productivity and creating an Excel-like work environment without paying a penny. This cloud-based Excel alternative has interesting features for developing new spreadsheets, editing documents made via other spreadsheet applications, supporting Pivot Tables and charts, and allowing teamwork on single documents. Easily accessible from mobile devices, Zoho documents have many features that are similar to excel spreadsheets and can be converted to .xls, .csv, xlsx, and .ods formats conveniently. If you desire to use a cloud-centric software bundle for managing and creating your documents, then Zoho sheets are surely the right way to go.

Use Zoho sheets here.

BIRT Spreadsheets

This user-friendly and powerful downloadable application is an impressive alternative to MS Excel. Once referred to as Actuate e.Spreadsheet, it centralizes and automates the production, archiving, maintenance, and security of spreadsheets. When you download the BIRT bundle, you will get access to the BIRT Spreadsheet Designer as well. Its report writer can be used for adding more to saved Excel reports and files while retaining their formatting, data connections, formulas, live charts, etc. With this Excel alternative in place you can navigate to other spreadsheets with the help of hyperlinks; conduct relevant data analysis; as well as create data-driven layouts, pivot tables, live formulas, and much more.

Get your BIRT Spreadsheet here.

Apache OpenOffice

If your business operations are not confined to Windows only, and extend to Linux, Mac, etc., you may like to use this open source office application for managing your business affairs in better ways. With a spreadsheet, word processor, database manager, drawing tool and presentations tool to boast of, OpenOffice is very popular with companies desirous of investing in business software with Microsoft compatibility (in-built); all without paying the high licensing costs of original Microsoft products. Just like Google Sheets, Calc - the spreadsheet component of this office bundle, features many MS Excel like tools including macros, charts and pivot tables.

You may either install the downloadable program of OpenOffice on your desktop or use the OpenOffice app by loading it onto a Flash drive for enhanced portability. The USP of this program is that it runs locally and does not require an Internet connection for accessing spreadsheets. With 1,048,576 rows and 1,024 columns of data to work on, Calc documents are capable of exporting worksheets as .pdf files, saving them in Excel 2003 format, and also opening the new .xlsx format files. Along with many sophisticated formatting options, Calc worksheets are also known for their chart plotting abilities.

Know more about Apache OpenOffice here.

Excel Online

PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Sway, Excel, and Word – you can now use these applications for free if you own a Microsoft account. Though these cloud-based, cut-down versions are not as feature-rich as their offline equivalents, nor do they provide access to 100% Excel compatibility online, they still go a long way in aiding the collaboration/sharing of spreadsheets. With the aid of Excel Online, you can view and gain restricted accessibility and editing rights to files saved in the.xlsm and .xlsx formats.

This software allows you to upload the worksheets that are saved on your local machine, share them with your team, or download them into offline versions of Excel for later viewing. Here, the only catch is that you require continuous and fast Internet connectivity, a la Google Sheets, Zoho spreadsheets, and other Cloud-based alternatives to MS Excel. So, if it is “No thanks!” for a complete version of Microsoft Office, you may like to consider this free Office alternative.

Enjoy the subset of MS Excel features on Excel Online here.


Owing its origin to open source office applications of the kinds of Apache Open Office, LibreOffice is a smart alternative to the entire Microsoft Office bundle. By using the spreadsheet component of LibreOffice, you can include pivot tables, basic formatting and business analysis techniques, and a lot more, for facilitating your operations.

Get your very own LibreOffice here.


ThinkFree is a much-used Excel alternative that presents various features and functional attributes of Google Drive Apps. Once you download this program, you can create different types of documents with its Calc, Write, and Show features that can be synced with most office programs. Along with creating spreadsheets and presentations, ThinkFree serves to be your one-stop resource for writing documents as well. You may use its 1 GB free online storage for enabling online collaboration, examining office documents and editing them from anywhere, anytime.


Undoubtedly, Excel has many more features than any of its paid or free alternative. Yes, MS Excel is surely the go-to tool when it comes to getting your hands on the best data analysis and report creation programs. But then, instead of getting blinded by the glitz of Excel, it is a good idea to explore the data analysis and information storing capabilities of other software solutions that promise to aid your business operations effectively. There are various third-party vendors like vertex42 who offer pre-built excel like templates that can be used for professional or personal use. The 7 alternatives to MS Excel given above are powerful business tools that have been specifically designed for this purpose and are surely worth a try.

Go for them.

About Author
Uma Daga