Five open source alternatives to Office 2013

These free and open source options deliver many of the same features at a very compelling price.

Between Microsoft's October launch of Windows 8 and last week's rollout of Microsoft Office 2013 and Office 365, there's no denying that it's been a decision-filled few months for PC users.

It seems safe to say that Windows 8 has not been received as enthusiastically as Microsoft might have liked, but Office is of course a whole different ballgame, as they say.

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With numerous components and pricing plans, this cross-platform entry is surely Redmond's broadest-reaching office product to date.

Time will tell how well it does, but meanwhile there are plenty of alternatives for those who remain unconvinced. Here's a small sampling of what's available from the world of free and open source software.

1. LibreOffice

Certainly the leading office productivity suite on the open source side is LibreOffice. In the two or so years since it was forked from OpenOffice, it's become the suite most commonly included by the top Linux distributions. With six feature-rich applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, the software had already been downloaded some 20 million times by last fall. It's available as a free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

2. Apache OpenOffice

Then, too, there's Apache OpenOffice, now under the purview of the Apache Software Foundation. OpenOffice is what LibreOffice is based on, so the two share many similarities; development work seems to be progressing more quickly on the latter, however. Not to be confused with the German variation now known as White Label Office, this suite is available as a free download at the project site.

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