Microsoft Excel may be the standard among spreadsheet applications, but if you're looking to save a few dollars, there are many alternative applications available. Most of these applications are free to download and use, and are very similar to Microsoft Excel in terms of usage and features. Some of these applications are cloud-based, and run from within your web browser. Others are traditional desktop applications that you install much like you would install any other program.
Online Spreadsheet Applications
Google Docs Spreadsheet is a very productive alternative to Microsoft Excel and works just like it. It is very simple to use. You can load any Excel spreadsheet into it, and edit and make changes to it. You can even track changes to the spreadsheets. Google Docs has an auto-save feature that automatically saves changes done to the spreadsheet in real time, so you're not at risk for losing any information if you accidentally close your browser.
EditGrid is an online spreadsheet service. It is free for personal use, and is very effective and easy to use. EditGrid has all of the features of normal spreadsheet software. In addition, it also has extra features like online collaboration and shared access. Its real-time update feature allows multiple users to use the application at the same time and see the changes done by others in the spreadsheet. This online application also has other features like charting, revision history, multiple access, permalinks and much more. All told, there are about 500 features in this online spreadsheet application.
Expresso Spreadsheet is another online spreadsheet application. It allows users to view and make changes to the spreadsheet in real time. Anyone can upload or create a spreadsheet and invite others to access it and make changes. The owner of the spreadsheet can set permissions on the spreadsheet to control who can perform certain tasks, such as viewing, copying, and downloading. The application has a "Cell watch" feature that will alert the member when the value or the formula of a selected cell is changed. It automatically records all the changed details done to the spreadsheet.
Desktop Spreadsheet Applications
OpenOffice provides many alternatives to Microsoft Office products. Openoffice's Calc is one such product, offering a perfect replica of Microsoft Excel. All the features of this spreadsheet application are similar to Excel, including cell arrangement, row arrangement and the number of cells and rows present. This open source software works on many platforms. Using this application you can view and edit spreadsheets saved in various formats, such as .XLS, .CVS, and many more. This application can be used for managing statistical and financial functions.
Gnumeric is a free spreadsheet program. It was developed to replace major spreadsheet software like MS Excel and other paid spreadsheet programs. It has many features, and supports various file formats such as CSV, .xls, HTML, lotus1-2-3, and many more. Files created using this program will have the file extension .gnm. There are many functions that are unique to Gnumeric. Gnumeric is ideal for the use of statistical analysis and scientific studies. You can easily create a graph using this program.