Unless you live in China, you've probably never heard of Kingsoft Office. That's a shame because it's one of the best office suites on the market. Though it doesn't contain all the tools offered by either Microsoft Office or LibreOffice (it offers only a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tools), it's far more cost effective than the Microsoft offering and more stable than the LibreOffice alternative.
Don't believe me? Until you actually try out the tool, the best way I can convince you is to give you 10 solid reasons why Kingsoft Office is superior to the competition.
Kingsoft Office has a high compatibility with the de facto standard in business — Microsoft Office. The Kingsoft suite was developed with compatibility in mind and it shows. You can open/save documents (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) from Microsoft Office 97/2000/2003/2007/2010 (in both standard and compressed formats). But there is one caveat. Although Kingsoft Office is highly compatible with the Microsoft Office formats, it is not compatible with LibreOffice/OpenOffice default formats. You need to save those documents in the Microsoft Office format (or, say, RTF) to open them. But as for Microsoft Office compatibility, Kingsoft bests LibreOffice and OpenOffice.
2: Page layout/word processing
Kingsoft Office Writer is almost like a word processor/page layout tool in one. With the new Paragraph Layout tool, you can drag and drop your paragraph layouts (on a per-paragraph basis) to make the document look exactly how you need it to look. There is also an abundance of what Kingsoft calls Materials (lines, connectors, shapes, arrows, images, buttons, etc.) that you can quickly add to the document. As well, the Page Layout tab allows you to easily add/change things like orientation, size, breaks, columns, line numbers, text wrapping, and text direction.
3: Integrated backups
This is one feature that really makes Kingsoft Office stand out. Kingsoft Writer creates an initial backup upon first save. You also set up the frequency of autosaves, which works in conjunction with the backup management. Backup management works very much like the OpenOffice crash recovery, only you have access to the tool even when a crash has not occurred.
4: Tabbed interface
Unlike the other office suites, Kingsoft makes it simple to work with multiple windows by taking a page from the world of web browsers. Every time you open a new document (either within Writer, Spreadsheets, or Presentations), it will open as a new tab within the main window. This makes it incredibly simple to switch back and forth between documents and doesn't clutter your desktop. You can even have the documents open side by side, top to bottom, or cascaded.
5: Skin (UI) manager
Kingsoft Office offers two skins: a Ribbon-like UI and a classic, drop-down menu-based interface. With the paid version, you can quickly switch back and forth between UIs, which means no matter what type of interface you (or your users) prefer, you can have it. I have actually found the Ribbon-like interface to be the best. It's like the Microsoft Ribbon interface on steroids. You have faster access to features and tools than you do in the Microsoft version. Finally, if you're an Ubuntu Unity user, Kingsoft Office integrates with the HUD without any extra work (unlike the broken HUD interface with LibreOffice).
6: Mobile version
Kingsoft Office not only has a desktop version for Windows and Linux, but also for Android and should have a full version for IOS as well (currently it offers only the Presentation software). Without a doubt, Kingsoft Office is the king of Android office suites. It has the single best interface, and it offers more functionality and features than any other mobile office suite.
7: Outstanding reference/review tools
If you are a fan of creating TOCs, footnotes/endnotes, captions, and cross-references, Kingsoft Office has an incredibly easy tool for those tasks. Located in the Reference tab, the tool makes it easy to insert/update/toggle levels for TOCs, insert footnotes/endnotes, add captions and cross-references, and even handle mail merge (available only in the paid version). Any editor will be pleased with the tools offered on the Review tab. A much easier interface for accepting/rejecting changes makes editing far easier than in other office suites. And unlike LibreOffice, Kingsoft Office includes the ability to show markup.
8: Quick formula selection
I have never come across a better interface for a spreadsheet. On the Formula tab, you will find several categories, each of which contains a drop-down where you can select from numerous formulas. You'll find Autosum, Financial, Logical, Text, Date/Time, Lookup/Reference, Math/Trig, and more functions. There is even a Recently Used drop-down to select from your most recently used formulas.
9: Easy data tools
In a similar vein, Kingsoft Office Spreadsheets makes it easy to work with data. On the Data tab, you will find quick access to Sort, Duplicates, Validation, Forms, Text To Columns, Consolidate, Goal Seek, Group, Subtotal, and more. With the paid version of Kingsoft Spreadsheets, you also have access to data import tools, Edit OLE DB Query, and External Data Range Properties.
10: Cost effectiveness
There are two versions of Kingsoft Office — free and paid. The free version is missing a few of the features (such as the ability to switch between UIs, online updating, macros, and cover page). The Professional version is (as of this writing) $69.95 USD. The full-blown Android app is free.
See what you think
Many will think me mad in my proclamation that Kingsoft Office has quickly become one of finest office suites available. It's not well known, but that doesn't detract from the fact it has surpassed its competition in value. Download the free version and see how quickly Kingsoft Office wins you over.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.