Find the Best Microsoft 365 Alternative For Your Small Business. | #linux | #linuxsecurity | #cybersecurity | #infosecurity | #hacker


Just found a Microsoft 365 alternative for their business.

Formerly known as Office 365, Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based offering. It includes Microsoft’s highly popular Office suite of applications—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and others. Small businesses use these productivity tools to accomplish several business-related tasks, including: 

  • Composing, sending, and receiving email
  • Writing documents, letters, and memos 
  • preparing budgets, charts, and financial statements 
  • creating reports and presentations 

Sometimes, you may get a cheaper Microsoft 365 business plan that only supports mobile and web app versions. Yet, most of their Business plans come with desktop versions. These desktop versions also allow your users to work even without an internet connection

Microsoft 365 certainly has a huge loyal following. Still, some businesses have learned to use other alternatives. Let me explain why.

Why Some Businesses Look for Alternatives to Office 365

Some businesses look for Microsoft 365 alternatives because the cumulative costs of a subscription can go through the roof. To give you an idea, the cheapest Business plan costs $10.00 per user per month. 

For many small businesses, that’s just too much. Suppose you only have 10 users, that’s already $100/month or $1,200/year. If you have 100 users, that’s a whopping $12,000 PER YEAR! Obviously, you can extrapolate that further for more users. 

Additionally, Microsoft 365 has some compatibility issues (e.g., if you’re a Linux user). Many also have some privacy concerns. Finally, you’ll need to connect to the internet every 30 days

This last point is actually a hassle. You need an active internet connection at least once every 30 days. Otherwise, your 365 apps won’t receive updates. Your device’s licensing tokens will also expire. What’s more, the device in question will shift to reduced functionality mode. This means you can only view and print documents, and that’s unacceptable in most cases. Fortunately, you can find a good Microsoft 365 alternative for you. Here are some of them. 

1. Kerio Connect 

Kerio Connect is a tool tailored for small businesses. It’s a mail server and an all-in-one collaboration tool. It’s also quick and easy to install (It just takes 10 minutes)! Kerio Connect also works on various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. Aside from email, Kerio Connect also comes with a calendar, instant messaging, security (e.g., anti-virus, anti-spam), and other business-essential features.

You can get Kerio Connect through GFI Unlimited. This offering includes network management and optimization tools, security solutions, and communications tools. 

If you need to follow strict data privacy policies, you’ll be happy to know that you can install Kerio Connect on-premises. That means you have full control of your data

On the other hand, you can also deploy it in partner cloud environments. This is specifically useful if you prioritize scalability and availability. This deployment flexibility makes Kerio Connect a solid Microsoft 365 alternative.

2. Zoho Office

The Zoho Office Suite shares many similarities with Microsoft 365. For one, it has Word, Excel, and PowerPoint counterparts—Writer, Sheet, and Show.  Zoho also allows you to import, edit, and export Microsoft Office files. This helps you collaborate with non-Zoho users.

Zoho even offers multiple plans that incorporate Zoho Office. It also includes several other features/applications. As of this writing, its most affordable plan, which already includes email functionality, is Workplace Standard. You can get it for only $3/user/month. It even comes with desktop applications for offline use. Zoho Office is very similar to Microsoft 365. However, the price disparity is very clear. Now you know why some businesses would prefer this Microsoft 365 alternative

Preparing a financial report on a Microsoft 365 alternative:

3. Nextcloud

Like Kerio Connect, Nextcloud is a Microsoft 365 alternative that focuses more on mail, calendar, contacts, and collaboration features. Nextcloud’s main advantage is that it’s self-hosted. That means it lets you store emails, contacts, and calendar data in your infrastructure. This feature isn’t for everyone, but privacy-conscious organizations are going to love this capability. 

In fact, data privacy is front and center in Nextcloud. It implements in-transit, server-side, and client-side end-to-end encryption. It also adheres with ISO 27001 and offers one of the highest open source security bug bounties. Users even get access to a Privacy Center! It shows you a global map telling you where your data is. The map also tells you who has access to your data.

Nextcloud plans also start at around $3/user/month. If data privacy is one of your top priorities, consider Nextcloud as a viable Microsoft 365 alternative.

4. Google Workspace

Google Workspace is the search behemoth’s entrant into the productivity and collaboration software space. Even though its trio, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, isn’t as feature-rich, it still does a pretty good job. 

Google Workspace pioneered a cloud-based approach to collaboration. It allowed users to work on the same document. This also prompted Microsoft to incorporate the same strategy into Office 365! However, this might also be its biggest weakness. Google Workspace heavily relies on the internet, so it almost becomes useless if you go offline. 

Workspace starts at $4.20/user/month with Gmail already included. It’s still much cheaper than 365. However, you can’t get Workspace if you need to be productive without the internet. Still, if you’re adopting a cloud-first strategy, Google Workspace can be an excellent Microsoft 365 alternative. It may even be a winner if you can maintain connectivity when your users need to work.

5. ONLYOFFICE

ONLYOFFICE is like Google Workspace—well, almost. It enables online collaboration through editors for documents, spreadsheets, and presentation files. You can deploy ONLYOFFICE editors on public clouds. You can also deploy them in your own data center. Basically, it uses the same concept as Nextcloud. 

An open gray-colored, cloud-shaped vault filled with files and folders.
Data privacy in the cloud.

In fact, ONLYOFFICE even integrates with Nextcloud. It’s also suitable for companies that care about data privacy. It certainly puts a lot of emphasis on security controls such as authentication, access control, and data encryption. It even has a Private Room feature! ONLYOFFICE encrypts data while users collaborate on documents online. It also encrypts data once you save a document for storage. 

ONLYOFFICE’s cloud-based option starts at $6/user/month (This isn’t the one you deploy in your data centers). Again, it’s definitely still much cheaper than Office 365. So, yes, it deserves a look, especially if you put a premium on data privacy.  

6. SoftMaker Office

SoftMaker Office actually resembles the pre-cloud version of Microsoft Office. TextMaker, PlanMaker, and Slides almost look and feel the same as the desktop versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. 

SoftMaker Office also has installers for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This means you’ll be able to support almost any desktop or laptop. However, SoftMaker lacks web-based versions. It also doesn’t support online collaboration features. It only costs about $3/user/month, but doesn’t include email functionality. 

This could be more than enough if none of your employees need to collaborate or work remotely. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to look into another Microsoft 365 alternative that has a cloud-based version.  

7. Corel WordPerfect Office

Another desktop-only Microsoft 365 alternative is Corel WordPerfect Office. Its main office applications are WordPerfect (like Word), Quattro Pro (like Excel), and Presentations (like PowerPoint). A long long time ago, WordPerfect was a serious contender to the word processor throne.

Today, however, it looks and feels outdated. It only supports Windows. It also doesn’t have any online collaboration features. WordPerfect’s spreadsheet and presentation applications are also not as feature-rich. 

Unlike the other Microsoft 365 competitors we covered earlier, WordPerfect Office doesn’t come with subscription-based pricing. Rather, it’s a one-time purchase. You can get its most popular edition, WordPerfect Office Standard 2021, for $250. Recurring costs can be more expensive in the long run. So if you’re only after basic features, give WordPerfect Office a closer look.

8. Polaris Office

Polaris Office is yet another Office 365 alternative. It allows users to edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. Its business offerings come in two varieties: Cloud and PC. As the name suggests, Cloud is a cloud-based offering that supports online collaboration. Conversely, PC is an installable edition. It also works independently of any internet connection. 

You can also get Polaris Office Cloud via subscription-based pricing. Alternatively, you could get it as a one-time purchase (for PC). The former is priced at $8/user/month. The latter costs $80. PC has both Windows and Mac installers

I think the monthly pricing is a bit expensive. However, the one-time purchase is very cheap. This Microsoft 365 alternative doesn’t have cloud and collaboration features. Still, if you’re just looking for a basic office application to edit files, you definitely have to try this out. 

9. LibreOffice

We haven’t presented a full-featured AND completely free alternative yet. Here’s one that’s definitely worth including in this list—LibreOffice. LibreOffice is a descendant of the once-popular OpenOffice.org. This program was most liked by the open-source community. Its productivity applications include Writer (like Word), Calc (like Excel), and Impress (like PowerPoint). LibreOffice provides installers for Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. It also supports native Microsoft Office file formats such as .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, and .pptx. It’s a really solid product

However, it may take some time to get used to it. LibreOffice also doesn’t have an official cloud-based version for collaboration. Finally, it has some memory issues that affect performance and responsiveness. If you can live with those, consider this a solid free Microsoft 365 alternative.

10. WPS Office

WPS Office is a lightweight Office 365 alternative. It also supports Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. WPS also comes with online collaboration features. Users may also view and edit the same document simultaneously. You can get WPS for Business for roughly only $3/user/month. Even so, it can support multiple platforms and online collaboration. However, the WPS Office user interface can take some getting used to. But if you’re okay with that, you could add this to your shortlist. 

11. Apache OpenOffice

Like LibreOffice, Apache OpenOffice is a descendant of OpenOffice.org. Although LibreOffice is the more popular office suite, the two have many similarities. In fact, both of them have Writer, Calc, and Impress as MS alternatives. They’re also both free and can run on the same desktop platforms. However, Apache OpenOffice doesn’t release updates as often. So, it’s probably much safer to use LibreOffice than Apache OpenOffice.

Before we end, here’s a table highlighting some of the key points discussed earlier.

The Best Microsoft 365 Alternative

Product Price/user/mo Key Features/Advantages Key Disadvantage(s)
Microsoft 365 $10.00 Loaded with more features
Familiar to users
Too expensive, especially for small businesses
Kerio Connect Free as part of GFI Unlimited Accompanied by several other business applications
Great value for money
Flexible deployment options
Not as familiar to users as Microsoft 365
Zoho Office $3.00 Very similar to Microsoft 365 at a third of the price Not as familiar to users as Microsoft 365
Nextcloud $3.00 Puts a lot of emphasis on data privacy Not as familiar to users as Microsoft 365
Google Workspace $4.20 Perfect for small businesses with a cloud-first strategy Too dependent on internet connectivity
Not as familiar to users as Microsoft 365
ONLYOFFICE $6.00 Flexible deployment options Not as familiar to users as Microsoft 365
SoftMaker Office $3.00 No major advantage No cloud-based version
Not as familiar to users as Microsoft 365
WordPerfect Office $250(one-time) Works for businesses that prefer a one-time payment Looks and feels outdated
No cloud-based version
Not as familiar to users as Microsoft 365
Polaris Office $8.00 Flexible deployment options No cloud-based version
Not as familiar to users as Microsoft 365
Might be too expensive 
LibreOffice Free Open sourceFrequent updates Not as familiar to users as Microsoft 365
WPS Office $3.00 Flexible deployment options Not as familiar to users as Microsoft 365
Apache OpenOffice Free Open source
Runs on desktop platforms
Not as familiar to users as Microsoft 365
Evidently, each product can replace MS 365!

Final Words

To sum up, we covered several Microsoft 365 alternatives. Some follow a subscription-based model, while others only require a one-time payment. Some have cloud-based versions. Others are purely desktop-based. That said, they all turned out to be significantly cheaper than Microsoft 365. That’s also exactly the way we wanted —perfect for small businesses

However, remember that they don’t have the same UX as Microsoft 365. They can also be a little bit quirky. Finally, some may be slightly sluggish. In all, regardless of your choice, you’ll need to get used to using it.

Hence, it’s crucial that you try out each Microsoft 365 alternative first. After that, you can purchase one for your business. To this end, use these apps’ free versions, too. Then, you can decide which Microsoft 365 alternative you like! 

Do you have more questions about choosing a Microsoft 365 alternative? Check out the FAQ and Resources below!

FAQ

What is open source?

Open source is a type of software where the source code is available to the general public. In addition, that source code may be inspected and modified. Conversely, closed source principles prohibit sharing and modifying any source code

What is a cloud-first strategy?

In a cloud-first strategy, a business looks into cloud-based solutions before considering any non-cloud-based ones. So, for example, when choosing a Microsoft 365 alternative, a cloud-first strategy would prioritize solutions like Google Workspace, Zoho Office, and Polaris Office (Cloud). 

What is authentication?

Authentication is a type of security control that validates the identity of a user, application, process, computer system, or similar entity. It proves that an entity is really who it claims to be. For example, when a user attempts to log in, they must prove that they’re a recognized user. In turn, they authenticate their identity with their username/password. 

What is access control?

Access control is a type of security control that restricts access to a resource. It leverages security methods such as authentication and authorization. For example, you can restrict access to your company files by requiring a username and password. This way, only those with legitimate user accounts can access those files. Otherwise, your system will block them. 

What is encryption?

Encryption conceals information by making text unreadable. It also preserves information confidentiality. As a result, it’s one of the most common security controls required in data privacy/data protection laws and regulations.  Encryption is usually applied to data-at-rest (stored data). It also applies to data-in-motion (data transmitted across a network).

Resources

TechGenix: Newsletters

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TechGenix: Article on the Characteristics of Cloud Computing

Get acquainted with the most prominent characteristics of cloud computing.

TechGenix: Guide to Implementing Cloud Network Security 

Learn how to implement cloud network security. 

TechGenix: Guide to Choosing A Firewall for SMBs

Learn how to choose a firewall for your small business.

TechGenix: Guide on Disaster Recovery

Familiarize yourself with the requirements for achieving effective disaster recovery. 

TechGenix: Disaster Recovery Plan Template

Develop your own DR Plan with this disaster recovery plan template.



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