Software

Review: Kingsoft Office suite

Kingsoft Office is designed to cater to the Microsoft Office crowd with its familiar-looking user interface and improved Office format support.

If you thought OpenOffice and LibreOffice were the epitome of free office suites, think again. Kingsoft Office is a truly underrated product that deserves a good look.

System requirements

  • Operating systems: Windows XP, Vista, and 7
  • Cost: $0 for Free Version, $49.95 for Standard, $69.95 for Professional
  • Acquisition: Downloadable
  • More Info: http://kingsoftstore.com

Comparison chart -- courtesy of Kingsoft Office

Courtesy of Kingsoft Office

Over in the Microsoft Office Blog on TechRepublic, we are asking a simple poll question: How many are still using Office 2003? Take the poll and share your thoughts.

Who's it for?

Kingsoft Office is for anyone who wants to write documents, generate spreadsheets, and create presentations without spending exorbitant amounts of money for expensive office suite applications.

What problem does it solve?

Unlike most free office programs, Kingsoft Office is designed to cater to the Microsoft Office crowd with its familiar-looking user interface and improved Microsoft Office format support.

Standout features

  • The free version packs a punch: Despite the lack of support for some advanced features like VBA and macros, Kingsoft Office performs surprisingly well against the competition, yet it isn't a memory or CPU hog.
  • Excellent Microsoft Office format support: Kingsoft Office is able to create document files compatible with MS Office 2003. It can even pull off read-only support for reading MS Office 2007 and 2010 files without a hitch.
  • Familiar user interface: Anyone who remembers MS Office 2003 will feel right at home and will instantly come to recognize the strikingly similar attributes to the window layout. (See the images on page 2)
  • Smaller install size: At least with the free version, the installation clocked in at roughly 100MB, which is considerably compact, compared to its heftier counterparts.

What's wrong?

  • No real compelling reason to get a paid version: Since most folks aren't going to use a macro system or any kind of scripting, paying for the Standard or Professional editions of Kingsoft Office might be a bit overkill.
  • Cannot save documents in Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 format: For many casual users, not being able to save files in the 2007 or 2010 formats is a nonissue. But if you need to not only read but edit and save the latest formats as well, it would be best to consider buying the Microsoft product.

Competitive products

The bottom line

If you are looking for the ultimate free office suite for Windows, look no further. Experience document creation and manipulation as it was intended, without breaking the bank in the process.

(See the images on page 2)

About

An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Cus...

4 comments
francisvandenplas
francisvandenplas

I'm mostly familiar with the Word/Writer couple and there this one shines. Under Vista it is far more stable than my (trusted?) Word XP. By the way, the latter is still quite sufficient for all my needs (on a daily, rather intensive basis): now and then I will still discover features I didn't know off (one of the latest was the kind of batch editing facility for style-sheets, and yes, Kingsoft lacks that one ;-(. Worse, I haven't found anything new in 2007/2010 that would be of any use to me, except for the longer list of last opened documents and an improved (but not in every aspect) pasting control. Their touted banner system maybe useful for newbies but is definitely dreadful for a seasoned user like myself. It just slows me down in my daily writing/editing chores... I guess M$ isn't absolutely interested in good ol' Word interface any more, otherwise they would conduct some kind of Apple/Samsung war about it: you can really consider Kingsoft's look 'n feel as an almost perfect clone of Office in that respect. And this goes down to the little pop-up windows which, by the way, are the only places where you will notice there are, indeed, some" featurettes" missing... They even added tabbed windows which are still sorely missing in M$'s latest iterations. Vista having killed my desktop hard disk (by a series of BSD's) I had to switch to my portable and its 2010. I inadvertently saved my first texts as docx ones. When I noticed this, I reverted to .doc saving. Would you believe that after tha,t 2010 would bluntly refuse to read my .docx any more (its own standard!), urging me to by a full-featured version, just to be able to do that. And guess who saved my day? Yes Kingsoft Writer! This implies that you can perfectly edit those .docx files here and then save them as plain .doc ones. That's much more than just a read function, since 2010/2007 also edits plain .doc ones. I use style-sheets extensively and that's where Writer shines over OOo and Libre, which often trash existing Word ones or add tons of unwanted styles. Again, the look 'n feel is almost equal and, more important, Word style-sheets are never tampered with. One drawback: for an reason unknown to me, the styles are not listed in alphabetical order and that's cumbersome. Also, when you click in a text, this will not automatically point to the style in use and there is no grouping on top of the list of those styles you've used before as in XP/2003 (wasn't perfect in Word though), all little things that make work easier and faster. By the way, those" featurettes" are also gone in 2010/2007! I guess that's what M$ calls improving the product ;-(( I would gladly switch to Kingsoft, if it wasn't for the fact I'm in an urgent need of French and Dutch (even German, to a smaller extent) spellcheckers and those are sorely lacking in Kingsoft's suite and/or add-ons (any one a working solution, I've tried some but they didn't work out)! And as a conclusion I would ask those good people at Kingsoft (and OOo and Libre, especially these two) to stop adding features almost nobody uses - they just make them shine against the competition - but concentrate on seamless compatibility on file and even functioning level, with the(unfortunately) undisputed leader...

joe935
joe935

Yes, Sorry , Open Office. I had tried all 3 apps that are based on Open Office and all failed the same way. But The Kingsoft spreadsheet worked with out a hitch.

joe935
joe935

I found many problems when i converted my 123 files to OO but they all worked without a problem in Kingsoft. Also they provide excellent email help in response to any questions.

TG2
TG2

One of the critical issues for me from Excel to Open Office was that OO didn't support using the period < . > character in spreadsheet names. And further was that when you'd look into their help as to what a valid spreadsheet name contained, it didn't reference the allowed characters. for me .. spreadsheet names included dots because I'd use sheets for blocks of IP space. And ofcourse anything that breaks a naming convention means that any linked documents could subsequently break ... so linking a word doc and a spreadsheet together meant that OO would corrupt said links. I like Kings' take on Office ... the problem is in getting business to fork for it .. or to get the bundling forced onto many pc buyers undone ... ie.. go buy a new pc now and microsoft office is already there.. you just have to buy the key ... and if said pc maker took that app off .. microsoft would charge more for the OS .. etc... with the size drives are getting to nowadays, I would love for a manufacturer to build an image that truly takes the customer into a choices based install ... allowing them to see a pre-install OS, use it for a week or two, then come back and make choices (OS, APP, base config) and after choices made, the user can create a rescue set that includes the base install plus the customizations so that user can reinstall to day one (with two week grace period included) or choose to apply the features as they'd previously done. Fat chance microsoft ever allowing that to be done.