I am looking for an Office suite that can work with MS Office files that does not require an Internet connection for installation or cloud access.

I have a number of clients who require compliance with some fairly stringent STIGs (Security Technical Implementation Guides). For at least two clients, putting data over the Internet is an actual breach of contract. A few more stipulate the cloud cannot be used under any circumstances.

We do currently heavily use MS Office 2013 - and would soon notice the loss of functionality. The real question seems to be: with 365 being so heavily pushed, will there be a version of Office in the future that will run off-line, not require a subscription (can be purchased outright) and does not present the possibility of being switched to reduced functionality mode when traveling to areas where The Internet may not be available or deemed too much of a risk to use (wireless at a hotel,etc.)

Is there an Office alternative that will still work - without any loss of functionality - without an Internet connection?

  • 1
    MS Office itself doesn't require any internet connection for anything other than activation if memory serves. A few functions suggest using internet (templates, saving to SkyDrive) but as long as you don't type your Hotmail password you're fairly safe from "the cloud".
    – Alejandro
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 19:49
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    KingSoft is in my opinion the best, in terms of functionality, lightweight, and look and feel. kingsoftstore.com/download-office (I have 101 rep but I can't post an answer). Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 10:40
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    Do you really need all the functionality of Microsoft Office? There's almost certainly no other product with every single feature of Office.
    – bdsl
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 19:07
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    We do currently heavily use MS Office 2013 - and would soon notice the loss of functionality. The real question seems to be: with 365 being so heavily pushed, will there be a version of Office in the future that will run off-line, not require a subscription (can be purchased outright) and does not present the possibility of being switched to reduced functionality mode when traveling to areas where The Internet may not be available or deemed too much of a risk to use (wireless at a hotel,etc.) Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 19:53
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    Only Office Online and Businesses Essentials and Enterprise E1 365 plans don't come with full installations. All 6 other versions of 365 come with full-featured full installations that don't lose functionality by being offline. There's no reason to assume MS will stop this practice anytime soon, for exactly the reasons you give: Some users can't or don't have access to Internet on their machines.
    – user13325
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 14:59

9 Answers 9


I use Libre Office.

It is one of many possibilities available to you. Libre Office can be used to edit and save documents which are in MS Office format, including Visio. It also uses the OpenDocument file format.

You would have to download the installation pack first but it does not need to be online during installation.

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    You might wish to add that there's even a "portable version" available, so one can "try without installing" – or put it on a stick and have it available everywhere.
    – Izzy
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 20:20
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    Portable version is winPenPack. Also great on systems with limited resources.
    – user3169
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 3:39
  • This does not meet the criteria of working without any loss of functionality. For many purposes it's close enough, but I've come across a number of even fairly simple documents which do not display the same in Microsoft Word and LibreOffice Writer.
    – user
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 8:15
  • Thanks Judith, I will look into Libre Office. I like Office 2013 but am not confident that an Office that may be owned outright will be available in the future. Some clients have tried Office 365. One was pretty badly crippled by a switch to a reduced functionality mode on the road -not being able to walk through a what-if analysis with a potential client he had traveled a long way to see. Licensing has been something of a show stopper as well. Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 20:02
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    @SarahofGaia Sorry I only know that one. The latest version about 1 year ago worked on XP. Never tried on Win7 though. It writes some configuration file in the portable app. folder, so you might check if that is happening.
    – user3169
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 20:13

You can use OpenOffice.

It has a "full installation" download (about 134 MB) that does not require internet access for the installation.

It is also compatible with many file formats including Microsoft Office formats.

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    I would recommend LibreOffice. It was a direct fork of OpenOffice but it's entirely open-source, whilst OpenOffice (I'm pretty sure) is now proprietary. Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 19:38
  • SarahofGaia, the word processor of LibreOffice works pretty well, but the spread sheet, in my experience, cannot compare to Microsoft 2013 Excel. Also, the Open Source version of the spreadsheet is far inferior to Excel. So if the spreadsheet is important to you, my guess is that you will not find a suitable alternative to Excel 2013.
    – ttonon
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 11:55

Microsoft Office 2013 does not require an internet connection. Office 365 is pushed heavily, which can cloud (no pun intended) the issue, but there are still fully-packaged product versions of MS Office 2013 for sale (although it can be challenging, depending on geo, to find it).

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    I too like Office 2013 but it is unclear if MS will continue to provide an Office suite that can run off-line without loss of functionality. Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 19:46
  • If you count OneDrive, you're already sacrificing functionality to stay offline. That said, Office 2016 is otherwise fully functional offline (I've been using the technical preview of it for a few months now). Although there is a definite move away from distributing physical media, Microsoft continues to provide customers access to downloadable ISOs to burn their own discs which could then be used to install Office on unconnected machines. Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 3:01
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    @user1585715 I don't really think that's unclear at all. Microsoft will not be so stupid as to throw the DoD-esque crowd under the bus. MSFT is ubiquitous in high-security environments, both Windows and Office. They're not going to risk losing that.
    – reirab
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 17:51

"Without any loss of functionality" is the key here.

If that is "absolute" (as in do precisely the same thing, precisely the same way, always) then it's a not. There isn't. The reason is farily simple: MS office is being developed for a few decades now, with big teams of developers, and to replicate absolutely everything you would need the same amount of "programming hours" which ultimately translates to number of hours worked timex number of programmers.

Now, this doesn't mean there are not viable alternatives. I would suggest LibreOffice, much like Judith, seeing as it is, by my experience, the one that best "mimicks" office functionality.

It can read and save office files "almost natively" (Some alerts and some configuring to be done, but works like a charm anyways), and I've never had problems with reading Office files.

On the other hand, you don't get much of the "sugar" from office. You don't get a style picker with default styles, for example.

Whichever decision you take, keep in mind that there is no "perfect way out" of this. If there was, nobody would buy MS Office, as it is by far the most expensive option. The choice isn't easy, but users have to abide by regulations. The best way to help them, if Office is not an option, is to chose another suite, configure it to work as much like Office as possible (like saving office formats by default, if many files are sent through E-Mail), and instruct them on its perks and how to use it as best as possible.

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    It's not really about "the same amount of programming hours". MS has played many games including not revealing technical information to the OpenOffice/LibreOffice team and the Office Open XML vs OpenDocument war started by MS.
    – user2121
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 14:20
  • @user2121, This specific idea ("Same amount of programming hours) comes from my readings. Can't remember if Paul Graham, Joel Spolsky or someone else. Still, the idea is pretty obvious. It makes absolutely no sense to have the same results on date functions as microsoft excel does, considering even excel changed their results during the 90s, breaking compatibility with previous spreadsheets for january and february 1900. I suggest reading about it, and you may get how complex copying excel must probably be: joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/06/16.html Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 21:27
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    @FernandoCordeiro If you think about it, the idea that duplicating functionality will take the same time as it did to invent it, even setting design time aside, is spurious. The copier will have a huge amount of hindsight into how parts interact which was not even possible for the original developers who wrote some parts before others were even thought of. I used to be employed as a clean-room cloner and I can tell you it's at least 3x faster than developing from scratch. For something like Excel, where you can avoid the dead-ends, it will be even better.
    – Nagora
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 15:29
  • Nagora, I said if it was absolute because that is specific to replicating absolutely everything. Even bugs etc. Of course you are "somewhat faster" replicating, but it's still not trivial to replicate excel, by far. Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 16:42
  • You cannot talk only about the entire "Office" package. The specific applications, such as word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and data base must all be considered separately. In my search for a Microsoft alternative, including Open Office and LibreOffice, none of their spreadsheets compare to Excel.
    – ttonon
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 12:01

Because a lot of the answers are not really good in my opinion and I now can answer, here it was I think:

  1. If you need 100% compatibility with the newest docx format, you want to use Microsoft Office. There is a version of MS Office 2013 without the need to activate Online (it works via phone) sold, but compared to the Office 356 version it is ridiculously expensive. Also note that Office 2016 will be released this year and you have to pay full price again then.

  2. Options with good compatibility that work with almost all MS Office files are WPS Office and Softmaker Office. I only use Softmaker regularly and am quite happy. Problem with both is they don't support VBS macros. WPS supports some basic macros, but if you need to use more complex macros created in MS Office, you can't. This only applies if you need to use macros created in MS Office with your office. You can create macros with both just fine (they won't work in MS Office then) WPS switched to some rent model where you have to pay monthly/yearly recently, so it could be this also needs an internet connection now. (If you want to buy Softmaker, there will be a Version 2016 very soon so a little waiting pays off)

  3. LibreOffice and OpenOffice also have MS Office format support, but it is much worse than the other two. LibreOffice seems to be a little bit better than OpenOffice in this regard. With macros, you are also out of luck here.

  4. All other Office Suites I know of have far worse compatibility with MS Office formats and are not even worth considering in my opinion.

To see how good compatibility is, you can find some of the most complex office files your clients have and try them with the different programs.

  • +1 for bringing more options to the table and pointing out the issues with Macros. :D Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 19:52

As already mentioned by many, LibreOffice is the best option you have. And what's more its available for Windows and Linux based OS, OS X, Android based OS and best of all - its opensource, free and well supported by the community.


@Stackoverflowed and me think the same

KingSoft is in my opinion the best, in terms of functionality, lightweight, and look and feel. kingsoftstore.com/download-office (I have 101 rep but I can't post an answer). – StackOverflowed

Kingsoft WPS Office Professional

As an office suite of desktop applications, WPS Office consists of a word processor—Writer, a spreadsheet program—Spreadsheets and a presentation program—Presentation. Compared with other office suites, WPS Office is regarded as one of the best office applications with user-friendly interfaces and excellent performance.

It works natively with MS Office, working with all the office formats such as .docx, .xlsx, etc. And the difference with WPS Office and say LibreOffice, is that while LibreOffice supports those formats, they are not the default. In Kingsoft by default it works with MS Office formats.

There is a free and a payed version of WPS Office - Standard (Free) and Professional (Paid - $70 at the time of writing)

  • How does the spreadsheet of WPS compare to Excel 2013? For me, the spreadsheet is the most important application, and I find that the Open Office and LibreOffice spreadsheets are far inferior to Excel, for many reasons.
    – ttonon
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 12:05

Like several above, I use Libre Office which has a lot of the functionality of MS Office but not necessarily the interoperability, I use the Calc spreadsheet the most and most formulae can be converted from their MS Office equivalents, they also have BASIC and Python macro capability however it's not VBA compatible so again, the interoperability issue is still there. My main beef with the MS Office is the "renting" model as I'm on a pension and don't want to be forced to pay something every year, month or whatever as it eats into the disposable income when I might consider it as a "luxury" item and don't need to keep up with all the latest features. I do find that Libre Office does perform slower than MS Office as of a year or two ago but many functions introduced by MS get implemented after a while although often with slightly different names and/or parameters. The software never needs a 'net connection, I can download it to a thumb drive e.g. from the public library or using a public wi-fi connection using a laptop and subsequently install it on my pc. If you just need to perform simple operations in the organisation then Libre Office might work for most day to day operations but for those high security installations where you need to provide absolute compatibility, you might be stuck with connecting to MS to renew your license or change all your office software to another vendor, on that note, I believe that in the 90s or early 2000s a council in Munich, Germany tried to break free of Microsoft's stranglehold on office software by going entirely open source but found that they had to revert to using MS products because of incompatibility with documents received from external sources and staff resistance, although other councils are now also trying to break away! If absolute security is needed, then it doesn't matter which office suite is used internally, provided it is "fit for purpose" since nothing should pass electronically through the firewall and if there is an air gap then some sort of translation "way-station" could be implemented prior to crossing the gap via "sneaker-ware" and in fact there is a good chance that the extra translation step might prevent or expose any malware embedded in documents?

  • Libre Office has already been mentioned. This site does not run like a discussion forum. The answers are expected to add something new. Commented Feb 28 at 0:38

Pandoc and Vim

Pandoc is a markup converter, which accepts many markup formats and converts them to just about any format. You just write in markdown format (The same format used to post on StackExchange). I've lost so many documents to these so called office suites, it's not even funny.

Vim is the greatest text editor of all time, and it has a set of tools to use that makes it full integrated with pandoc for document generator.

Both are really simple tools for working with text. It's quite refreshing being able to take my work where ever I go without having to worry about having MS Office on a computer, because any document written in markdown is just plain text (ascii), which means it is completely portable.

If neither of those options work for you, you could always use LaTeX, for laying out your documents.

  • 8
    -1 (if I had the rep). The OP is looking for an application that can work with MS Office files.
    – Ergwun
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 0:52
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    @Ergwun Well, pandoc can generate MS Office files, and you can read them in Vim if you can read hex.
    – HSchmale
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 0:56
  • While this is probably pretty far from what the OP actually wants, I would recommend seriously considering taking this route instead of being dragged back into the Microsoft silo time and time again. It's only a matter of time before whatever solution works now will stop working because Microsoft doesn't want it to (and/or they dislike you personally; that's the feeling I get, at least).
    – tripleee
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 11:56
  • I love vim and I love pandoc, and I use them for all my personal stuff... but, come one, this simply isn't a suitable replacement for an office suite in a real-life office environment -- very few admin types would want to take the time to learn vim's unique way of working, or would have a good time reading pandoc's user documentation (fantastic though it is). I doubt the OP's clients would be very impressed by this 'solution'.
    – evilsoup
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 12:40
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    @HSchmale it's not a matter of possibility, it's a matter of feasibility, evidenced by the "without any loss of functionality". Pandoc and Vim are not viable for the day-to-day activities of non-technical personnel because they expect a similar workflow. You answer works really well for some other possible questions though. It's a Markdown Workflow capable of integration with MS Office users. It can be really good for technical users who want to change their documents workflow. I suggest you ask a new question and answer it. :D Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 21:15

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