Fancy an alternate \'Office\'?

WPS Office 2020, is a robust multi-platform office suite, for those who want to look beyond Microsoft.

After MS Office what? It may be time to ask that question because Microsoft seems to be tapering off its install-once- and-use license for its flagship Office Suite. It is bending on customers to opt instead for the Office 365 online version where you have to pay monthly to access the suite through an Internet connection only. This is a route that many lay users like you and me, neither like, nor can afford. We would love to shift to an alternative where you get a licence for perpetuity and can shift from desktop to laptop or phone, without paying again and again.

Problem: Microsoft's formats -- Doc for word documents, PowerPoint for presentation and Excel for spreadsheets have become global standards -- and we need to work with them.

Last week I was introduced to an alternative where I could have my cake and eat it too -- keep working in these MS formats, but use an office suite that does not require a subscription mode. It is called WPS Office and it comes from a Chinese software company called Kingsoft. In fact, if you own a mobile phone of Chinese origin like Vivo or Oppo, the chances are you are already using the factory-installed WPS. The name is an acronym for Word-Presentation-Spreadsheet. Now, it is available in the 2020 edition for portable Android and Windows desktop operating systems: the Apple Mac version was launched last week. What's more, it is both legal and free in downloadable versions that take up very little memory -- just 110 MB. Most of us can manage with the free functions and may not need to go for the premium version with many advanced features, which costs around USD 30/ year or the SMB version which can be bought for a one- time price of around USD 80 -- that is Rs 6000 equivalent.

WPS has a fourth pillar other than word, presentation and spreadsheet: PDF: very useful since this has become is a de facto document standard, but hitherto we had to download a separate Adobe utility for that.

My week or so, with WPS Office has been a smooth experience -- with many little tools and tricks that I didn't find in MS, with the attraction that I could glide between all four utilities in a single view. I met a veteran IT trainer who has been coaching students in all major office tools -- Bangalore-based Vijay Perepa, co-founder of A meet Z Technologies -- and he says: If you want to use legal office software and are looking for something other than the Microsoft flagship, the best bet today is WPS.

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