7 ways to download Excel (almost) for Free

by gaetano
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Ok, the title could be deceptive and may be you are here to know how to download a pirate copy of Microsoft Excel. I think that often the problem is not to pay for software, but how to pay for it. Furthermore consider that an illegal copy of software may contain viruses and that you don’t have update form the developer in the future. I would advise you to consider one of the legitimate way to download Excel below.

Download a Free Trial

Free Excel - Traial Version
Cost: Free
Source: Microsoft Office 2010
Limitations: 60 days of use

This option is for those who want to try Microsoft Excel because they are debating whether to use Excel or an alternative. Microsoft allows you to download a free trial of Excel that will automatically stop working after 60 days. The software has full functionality per 60 days.

If you end up not being satisfied with your Excel experience, you can definitely try one of the alternatives to Microsoft Excel.

Use an Academic License

FreeExcel - Accademic License
Cost: Free or heavily discounted (varies by school)
Source: University Website
Limitations: None

There are some Universities that give to you the possibility to download a copy of Excel for free thanks to the particular relationship with Microsoft.
Obviously this possibility is only for those who are enrolled in school, but those of you that are already enrolled in school or planning to enroll soon, make sure to check with your University’s IT department to see if your school has a licensing agreement with Microsoft.

Use Google Docs / Google Drive

Free Excel - Google Drive
Cost: Free
Source: drive.google.com
Limitations: Lag issues, certain Excel features missing

At the beginning Google created Google Docs as an alternative to Microsoft Office suite, offering a stripped down, web-based version of the software. Now all Google services are being merged into what Google is calling Google Drive with the intent to merge the Google Docs suite of applications with Google’s new online data storage service.

Google Drive is completely free and has a software’s superior collaboration functionality, indeed documents and spreadsheets can be shared much more quickly and easily than with Microsoft’s traditional desktop file structure.
You can share documents and spreadsheets with as many people you want and multiple people can edit them at the same time. On the backend, Google saves a history of all the changes in case you need to revert to a prior version.

Personally I appreciate very much the possibility to share the last version of a document with colleagues rather than pay for expensive conferencing software: logging into the same Google document everybody will be looking at the latest version of the document at the same time. Let’s consider moreover that you can synchronize the file on your PC with the file on the server: it is an easy and simple functionality that speed up your work!

Unfortunately the spreadsheet application of Google Drive still does not have all the functionalities of Microsoft Excel: charts and macros are not so developed, and larger spreadsheets with a lot of formulas tend to lag when using them, because of the web based structure of the product.

To access the service it is sufficient to have a Gmail account: simply go to your Google Drive homepage using the link above. To create a new spreadsheet document, click the red “Create” button to open up a menu and then click “Spreadsheet” within that menu

Free Excel - Google Drive Control Pannel



Free Excel - OpenOffice
Cost: Free
Source: openoffice.org
Limitations: Certain Excel features missing

As the name suggests, OpenOffice is open source software and represents another free alternative to buying Excel. I have tried this suite some years ago and I have found some bugs in it (MS Excel also has some bugs!) and I experiences some problems with macros. I recently have download again this software and I was really surprised to find a much more stable and evolved product.

OpenOffice is not the only free software available, but, probably it is the most popular one. We will discuss this topic in another article.

If you’ve considered all these alternatives and none of them suit you, you probably have to buy the software, but, even in this case, you have some alternatives to minimize the amount you end up paying.

Buy Excel as Part of Microsoft Office

Free Excel - Office Professional
Cost: $399.99 (as of this posting)
Source: Amazon
Limitations: None

It is much more expensive to buy a copy of Excel all by itself, so, if you are planning to buy Excel, make sure you buy it as part of the entire Microsoft Office suite. May be you don’t need all the software provided, but in this way you have the possibility to manage data in different ways, for example coping and pasting an Excel object from/to Word or PowerPoint.

Buy the Home & Student Version of Office

Free Excel - Office Home
Cost: $124.99 (as of this posting)
Source: Amazon
Limitations: None

The Home and Student version of Microsoft Office removes some programs from the suite (Outlook, Publisher and Access), but you can still have a good product with the essential tools.

Microsoft Software Donation Program

Free Excel - Donation Program
Cost: $20-$30 per license
Source: techsoup.org/microsoft
License limit of two years

Microsoft currently provide software donations to more than 60,000 organizations each year (as of this posting). So, if you are working on behalf of a library or non-profit organization, you may be eligible to participate in Microsoft’s Software Donation program. To use this service, you must go through Microsoft’s Volume Licensing website and licenses you purchase are limited to a term of two years.


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