LATEST SPREADSHEET CORNER ARTICLE:

Alternatives to Excel

August 15, 2015

Microsoft Excel is the gold standard of spreadsheet software, and some may argue it is equally expensive as gold. But if you’re not willing to pay the premium price, what are your alternatives? When making any price comparison (especially when comparing to a free option), you have to assess what the opportunity cost may be of switching to a free or lower-cost spreadsheet.

Excel has the basic functionality of all spreadsheets: rows, columns and cells. Aside from its basic capabilities, it also allows users to create pivot tables, use a scenario manager, create charts, analyze statistical information and even program using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

Microsoft Excel has come a long way from its beginnings. Recently, Microsoft (MSFT) made Office 365 (a suite of software that includes Excel) available across multiple devices including PC, Mac, Windows tablet, iOS (iPad and iPhone) as well as Android (phones and tablets). Microsoft gives users the option to make a one-time purchase for any Office suite, or to purchase an Office 365 plan. The difference is that the one-time payment option expires in a year (one-time purchase for Office suite), while paying a fee every year, or every month allows you to receive continual software updates (Office 365).

Microsoft excels (pun intended) in its extensive tutorials, blogs, forums and support centers. But are there viable Excel alternatives that are either free or less-expensive? Is Microsoft Excel really your only option?

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