For the past two years I’ve been using a Microsoft Office alternative that costs 70% less than a subscription to Microsoft 365. It all started after I was laid off from my tech job. The company I was with provided a free subscription to Microsoft Office for employees to use on their home computers. A few months after I was let go, Microsoft Office stopped working for me. I looked at getting a license to reactivate the software, but it was more money than I wanted to spend. I considered installing an old copy of Office 2000, but that would have made it difficult to open newer docx files. I needed something less expensive that would open files created with the latest version of Office without any formatting issues.
After looking at several options, I finally decided to go with SoftMaker Office NX Home. SoftMaker is a software company located in Nürnberg, Germany. I wasn’t sure if I should trust a foreign company, but after installing and testing a trial version of their Office alternative, I decided to get a one-year subscription. For the price of $29.90, you get TextMaker (documents), PlanMaker (spreadsheets), BasicMaker (macros), and Presentations (slides). I didn’t need Outlook since all of my email is on web-based applications. For that price, you can use the software on 5 computers and 5 Android devices for home use. When it came time to renew my subscription, after the first year, they were offering a free copy of PaintShop Pro 2021. That made it well worth the renewal fee. I had been using PaintShop Pro 7, which does everything I need, but is now 20 years old.
Since the company is in Germany, there is a small transaction fee, but no sales tax. The software provides seamless compatibility with Microsoft Office. They also provide periodic service pack updates. I haven’t encountered any major problems with formatting. The only thing I did have trouble with was when placing images on a sheet of labels. I did manage to sort that out. I haven’t tried creating any complex spreadsheet macros. I used to be pretty handy with Excel macros and VBA. It is satisfying to create a macro that manipulates data on a spreadsheet. These days, I don’t have much need for those skills. Anyway, if you are looking for a good, affordable Office alternative, give SoftMaker Office a try.