WPS Office Is A Great Microsoft Word Alternative For Ubuntu And Linux


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Backstory

My transition to Linux hasn’t been smooth like originally hoped when I migrated from the anxiety-inducing Windows back in 2009. I first tried Ubuntu 9.04. For a non-technical front-end user, it was very difficult to do anything other than browse the web on a Linux machine. This was, of course, if you could figure out how to use ndis-wrapper to activate your wireless device. What a headache that was! I spent hours of reading forums to find just the right magical terminal command to activate it.

I think these days are coming to an end. Things are smoothing out for the leading Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, Elementary, and the others on the top of DistroWatch‘s list. Most devices are recognized now when you plug them in: Plug and Play support. No more hours of messing with the terminal for basic functionality.

The Journey

I bring this up for a reason. My biggest complaint and sadness about using Linux was the fact that their software was a decade or more behind Microsoft and Apple. There were only basic games; nothing utilizing the fast-paced  graphic-intensive games in which we are all accustomed. You wanted to play a game like WoW with your friends? Forget it. The production software for graphic, video, and sound editing was limited and very dated. If you wanted to write any text, it was in notepad. There were the early days of Open Office, but it was incompatible with Word and the rest of the working world. Forget about writing anything for a university or work. Eventually Open Office stopped its progress and updates, which lead to Libre Office.

Libre Office is still full of bugs. It freezes often, loads and wrongly formats Word documents (i.e. docx files), and some of the functionality is too confusing to use. Libre Office does work enough to write a paper with basic formatting, but that’s it. It does not compare, at all, with Microsoft Word. They are two different worlds.

We have been craving and yearning for the day that the FOSS community catches up to Microsoft in the realm of Word, Excel, and Power-point.

The Fix

WPS Office offers the clearest hope. WPS Office was known as Kingsoft Office, then re-branded. WPS stands for Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheets. It’s apparent that they designed WPS to be a clone of Microsoft Word. That’s a good thing, since Word is beautiful in its layout and design. The functionality is there too! It just works.

Installing WPS Office

I tested out the newest release for Linux and was excited. It’s not in the official repositories and they don’t have a PPA (for Ubuntu derivatives). No worries, though. It was easy to install.

Go to their website: wps.com. Choose your OS from the menu. Download and install the correct file. For Linux users, go to wps-community.org. Download and install the correct file (I chose the wps-office_9.1.0.4885~a16_i386.deb package).

After downloading, right-click the file and chose ‘Open WIth GDebi Package Installer’. I am running Linux Mint Cinnamon 17, but there should be something similar on your OS. After the installation completes, find the program in your menu and run it. You can also right click on an existing document file and do ‘Open With’ > ‘WPS Writer’.

Using WPS Office

Screenshot of WPS Office

See the design comparison between WPS Office and Libre Office in the photo above.

If you have used WPS Office for a while, please leave a comment of your experience. Is it comparable to Microsoft Word?

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