The Best Office Suites for 2023

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Go back one millennium, and the term office suite meant a bunch of rooms in a brick-and-mortar building where people gathered on weekdays to type letters, hold meetings, calculate earnings, and waste time at the water cooler. Today, most people understand an office suite to be a batch of applications on your computer or mobile device that you use to do all those tasks, either alone or with collaborators, and not just during the workweek. Office suites haven’t replaced the water cooler, but your company’s business messaging app might have. 

Microsoft 365, the current name for what used to be Office 365 and before that Microsoft Office, is the colossus of office suites and the one that much of the world uses by default. That doesn’t mean Microsoft 365 is necessarily the best suite for your specific purposes, however. We’ve surveyed work-a-like and work-almost-alike suites from Apple, Google, SoftMaker, Corel, and The Document Foundation to help you pick the best one. If you want to specifically work on longer-form pieces, including scripts and novels, then a dedicated writing app may be a better bet.

Microsoft Office Professional 2021

Best for Complete Office Productivity

Bottom Line:

Microsoft Office is the best set of productivity apps for serious office work. The new version is an incremental upgrade that adds speed and some ingenious convenience features but otherwise works almost exactly like earlier versions, so there’s no big learning curve for upgraders.


  • Buy-once, use-forever version of Microsoft Office
  • By far the most powerful office suite
  • Includes access to web and mobile versions
  • Cleaner interface with no new learning curve


  • Microsoft Word’s automation features are intrusive and hard to control
  • Outlook can seem bloated and unwieldy
  • Some features are deeply hidden in obscure menus

Read Our Microsoft Office Professional 2021 Review

Microsoft 365 Personal

Best for Continuous Office Updates

Bottom Line:

Microsoft 365 is the world’s standard for office suites and the only one that’s equally powerful online and on the desktop. Despite a few glitches, nothing else comes close in power, flexibility, or ease of use.


  • Most powerful office apps of any competitor
  • Available on almost all platforms
  • Smooth collaboration features
  • Elegant, user-friendly interface with extensive help features
  • All-in-one app for mail, contacts, and calendar


  • Problems accessing documents through web browsers during testing
  • Automated features in Word produce some unpredictable results
  • Some advanced features can be hard to access

Google Workspace

Best for Enterprise Features

Bottom Line:

Google’s excellent Workspace office suite is nearly as powerful and flexible as Microsoft 365, despite only offering online apps. This browser-based approach means its apps are available for and work the same on any platform.


  • Elegant office tools
  • Works the same on any browser
  • Fine-tuned collaboration and revision-tracking features
  • Corporate-friendly user management


  • Online-only apps
  • Less powerful than comparable desktop apps
  • Offline editing requires Chrome and advance planning

Apple iWork

Best for Apple Users

Bottom Line:

Apple’s iWork apps are free, sophisticated, and deeply integrated within its ecosystem. Their default file formats aren’t conducive to sharing, however.


  • Simple, elegant interface
  • Unique canvas-style format for worksheets
  • Tight integration with Apple’s mobile platforms
  • Powerful graphics features
  • Free


  • Native file formats won’t open in any other apps
  • No mail-merge or multi-chapter support in Pages

Corel WordPerfect Office

Best for Precise Formatting

Bottom Line:

WordPerfect has the only Windows-compatible word processor that doesn’t work like Microsoft Office; it allows for precise, predictable control over formatting. It’s a worthy upgrade, but new users may be turned off by its dated UI and lack of collaboration tools.


  • Unique control over formatting and other features
  • Powerful support for long documents
  • Builds complex documents from the wizard interface
  • Specialized legal features and ebook publishing
  • Imports and exports Microsoft and legacy formats


  • Outdated interface
  • No mobile or Mac versions, only Windows
  • Can’t easily replace formats like underline and italic
  • Spreadsheet and presentation apps lag behind the competition
  • No real-time collaboration support

Read Our Corel WordPerfect Office Review

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Best for Online Collaboration

Bottom Line:

Google’s free office apps are minimal, but they’re robust enough for most users and have excellent collaboration tools. Working offline isn’t seamless, but the well-designed web and mobile versions offer a reliable document-creation platform.


  • Simple, elegant interface
  • Advanced collaboration and revision-history features
  • Free


  • Online editing and viewing only (without advance preparation)
  • Limited feature set compared to desktop suites
  • Slow performance on large documents

SoftMaker Office

Best for Value

Bottom Line:

SoftMaker Office 2021 is the closest thing you can find to Microsoft 365 at a lower price. It offers an elegant interface and all the capabilities home-office and small-business users need.


  • Powerful, elegant alternative to Microsoft 365
  • Speedy, reliable performance for most tasks
  • Highly customizable ribbon or menu-based interface
  • Opens legacy documents that Microsoft Office apps can’t
  • Optional version backup
  • Apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, plus full-featured mobile apps


  • Lacks web apps and collaboration features
  • Limited document-viewing options
  • Slow performance with huge worksheets
  • No recorded macros and scripted macros only available for Windows version


Best for Open-Source Document Editing

Bottom Line:

LibreOffice is a free and open-source document suite that’s available on all major OSes, but it still doesn’t offer online access or collaboration features. It’s also not nearly as smooth in operation as competitors.


  • Free and open-source
  • Offers desktop apps for Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • Can import and convert almost any legacy document


  • Less stable on Macs than rival suites
  • No online collaboration features
  • Confusing and overstuffed interface

Buying Guide: The Best Office Suites for 2023

How Much Do Office Suites Cost?

Some office suites—such as those from Apple, Google, and LibreOffice—are free. SoftMaker also offers a free version. Others, such as Corel WordPerfect, require you to pay a one-time cost. Google Workspace is a subscription-based service (we refer to the free version as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides), while Microsoft 365 and SoftMaker Office both offer standalone and subscription-based versions. The cost of a subscription depends on how many devices you need to use the software on, as well as which apps you need.

With any subscription-based office suite, your apps automatically stay up to date with all the latest features and security updates. That’s an important benefit, but if you don’t really care about getting the absolute newest updates, you might prefer to purchase a static standalone version. Many office suites offer the latest version to existing users at a discount, so you might not need to pay full price when you decide it’s time for an upgrade.

What Do You Get in an Office Suite?

Three apps remain the core of every office suite: a word processor, a spreadsheet editor, and a presentation app. Depending on the suite, and, in some cases, depending on which version of a suite you choose, you also get a mail and calendar app, a database manager, PDF-editing software, a note-taking app, website creation tools, and any of a dozen miscellaneous apps and services that cover anything from video conferencing to form-building.

One thing that all of today’s suites have in common is that their core apps—the word-processor, spreadsheet, and presentation app—share much of their underlying code. That means, for example, that the drawing tools in the presentation app are typically also available in the word processor and spreadsheet app. Also, the core apps typically share a similar interface, so you can move from one to the other without difficulty.

Cloud or Local Apps

One important decision to make before you choose an office suite is whether you want to work online, offline, or both. Both types of software have advantages. For instance, online apps allow you to collaborate with others and can help ensure that your files are available everywhere. Local apps are typically more powerful and reliable, however.

Corel WordPerfect, LibreOffice, and SoftMaker Office all lack web versions and confine you to working on documents on your local machine. Google’s commercial and consumer apps, by contrast, are web-first experiences. For instance, all the apps within those suites are available via a browser and every document you work on is saved to cloud storage. Although you can work on Google Docs files offline, that’s not as viable a solution as downloading full-featured, local-disk versions of apps.

Microsoft 365 offers the best of both worlds. By default—though it’s easy to change this—Microsoft’s apps save documents to its cloud storage service, Microsoft OneDrive, which allows you to keep copies of your documents both online and in the cloud simultaneously. Microsoft makes it easy to edit and access your documents either online through a browser or locally through top-notch desktop apps.

Apple’s iWork apps (Page, Numbers, and Keynote) are also available online, as well as on macOS, iOS, and iPadOS devices. Apple, unlike Microsoft, doesn’t provide Windows or Android versions of its office apps.

File Conventions

For better or worse—and we think it’s mostly for better—Microsoft 365 sets the standard for document formats; all other suites let you save documents in Office’s file formats.

The only document formats that every suite we reviewed can handle are Microsoft’s Word and Excel formats. You can set up your non-Microsoft apps to save in those formats, but you’ll typically need to swat away message boxes and other warnings when you do. If you only share documents within an organization standardized on non-Microsoft formats, this isn’t an issue. In fact, some security-conscious users or businesses may prefer to keep potentially sensitive documents exclusively in LibreOffice’s open-source formats. However, if you frequently send documents to recipients outside your organization, watch out for compatibility problems.

Google’s apps have a unique way of handling file types. You can download Google’s documents in standard formats, such as those used by Microsoft 365 or LibreOffice, but the originals that are saved to the cloud can only be edited in Google’s web and mobile apps (with some special exceptions). All of the apps within Apple’s iWork suite use proprietary formats, which makes sharing difficult.

Recommended by Our Editors

Should You Use an Alternative to Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Office? 

When deciding on an office suite, you should consider whether you are picking one for yourself or your whole organization. If it’s the former, use whatever feels most comfortable. If you do choose anything other than Microsoft 365 (the online subscription version of Microsoft’s killer suite or Office 2021 (the buy-once-and-use-forever local software version) and plan to send your files to anyone else, be prepared to set up your suite to export files in the standard Microsoft Office formats.

If you’re choosing an office suite for a small business or a large organization, then matters get more complicated. Microsoft 365/Microsoft Office 2021 is the most effective, reliable, and easiest to use of all the suites, but it has two disadvantages: First, it’s expensive. Second, you may have strong reasons to avoid proprietary software.

If you insist on open-source software, then LibreOffice is your only serious choice. It does suffer from a clunky interface with menus that can confuse even expert users. If you want free software, and you only use a Mac, you can use Apple’s iWork apps. For free software on any other desktop OS, consider SoftMaker Office’s free version. If you’re content with cloud-only software, then Google’s apps are powerful and intuitive. If you’re in an industry or research field that uses WordPerfect, then Corel’s suite is the only choice. 

Microsoft’s suite, in whichever version, clearly leads the field, but it’s not for everyone. Unfortunately, there’s no clear preference among the alternatives, but you can test them all, including Microsoft 365, with free or trial versions.

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