Before Microsoft started bundling it with nearly every computer running Windows, Excel's only claim to fame was that it was the best spreadsheet for Macintoshes... not exactly a great accomplishment. But when Windows took over the PC market, and Microsoft began pushing the Office suite of programs, Excel suddenly became IT. It's a good spreadsheet, but it's far from the only spreadsheet you might want to use.
close match high quality low price challenge MS LibreOffice/OpenOffice/NeoOffice Calc includes the same range of analysis and graphic tools as other professional spreadsheets. It will run on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, or Solaris and stores its documents in OpenDoc XML, a fully-open data storage format. It has excellent compatibility with MS Office files. It's available in several flavours, including LibreOffice, a free open-source community-driven version; and both free and commercial versions under the Oracle OpenOffice name. my choice Windows Unix-like Mac OS OS/2
close match high quality challenge MS Lotus 1-2-3 is the original "killer app" that legitimised PCs for business. While it no longer dominates the spreadsheet market (another victim of Microsoft's advantage in creating and then bundling Windows applications) it's still a very powerful and capable analysis tool. And of course it's a great component to use along with Lotus Notes and the rest of Lotus' suite of applications. Windows OS/2
close match high quality challenge MS Quattro Pro began its existence as a clone of Lotus 1-2-3, but quickly went beyond it. ("Quattro" is Italian for "4".) Now Corel offers it as part of the WordPerfect Office package, where it gives you the same kinds of powerful data analysis and graphic tools that Excel does (plus some that Excel doesn't), and improves on its compatibility with Excel files. For Windows. my choice Windows
close match high quality low price challenge MS Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets is the spreadsheet module in IBM's office suite. It's based on the core of OpenOffice with a user interface developed by IBM/Lotus. Available for both Windows and Mac. Windows Mac OS
close match high quality challenge MS PlanMaker is part of the SoftMaker suite, which is available not just for Windows and Linux, but also both the "Windows CE" and "Pocket PC "versions of Microsoft's mobile operating system. Unix-like Windows
high quality low price challenge MS Numbers doesn't try to duplicate all the accumulated features of Excel, but as the spreadsheet app included in Apple's iWork suite, it aims to be easier to use, with a variety of templates included to give you a headstart on setting up various common kinds of spreadsheets. It imports and exports Excel documents, and it's substantially cheaper than the next-best commercial office suite available for the Mac: MS Office. Windows Mac OS
high quality low price GoBe Productive is a very highly-integrated office software package, by some of the same people who created AppleWorks. Rather than having separate programs or even discrete modules for word processing, spreadsheets, graphics, presentation, etc. GoBe Productive is a single program that lets you do all of these things, even in a single document. It was a popular package for BeOS, and is now available for Windows. A trial version is available for download. Windows
close match high quality low price Ability Spreadsheet is part of a complete suite similar to MS Office, and comes close to qualifying as a clone of Excel, with file-format compatibility, an interface that will look very familiar to Excel users, and of course features. And much cheaper. The components can be purchased separately or as a complete package. Available for Windows. A free trial can be downloaded. Windows
close match high quality challenge MS Mariner Calc is a less-bloated alternative to Excel on the Mac that still has nearly all of the power and features you're likely to actually want, and you don't have to buy an entire office suite to get it. Mac OS
low price challenge MS KSpread is the spreadsheet component for the free KOffice suite for Unix-like operating systems running the KDE desktop (also free). As a volunteer project, it doesn't have the full breadth and depth of features as a commercial spreadsheet program, but it has most of the standard capabilities one expects from a modern spreadsheet: complex formulas, multiple sheets, formatting, graphs, scripting, conditional coloring, hyperlinks, etc. Unix-like
low price challenge MS Gnumeric is part of the GNU Project (to build a completely free Unix-like operating system). Its goal is to offer a fully-capable replacement for commercial spreadsheet programs such as Excel or Lotus 1-2-3, and although it's still a ways from reaching that point, it's already a very useful tool. It runs in the Gnome desktop on Unix-like operating systems. It's a key piece of the loosely-coordinated Gnome Office suite. Unix-like
low price challenge MS Thinkfree Calc operates in conjunction with the company's web site, where your documents can be stored (securely) for retrieval from anywhere. It requires a relatively small download, which can also be used (with local storage) offline. It's Java based, so it's compatible with all the major operating systems: Windows, Mac OS, and Unix-like systems. Companies can licence a server edition for deployment on their LAN. Windows Unix-like Mac OS
low price GS-Calc is a surprisingly powerful, very inexpensive shareware program, highly rated, and compatible with the latest file formats. Windows
low priceExcel Viewer is a free download from Microsoft that can read and print Excel 97 and most Excel 2000 spreadsheets, taking the burden off your spreadsheet program of choice if people are in the habit of sending you information in those formats. Unfortunately it doesn't let you edit the data or examine the underlying formulae, but it's better than buying Excel just to look at other people's numbers. Windows
icXL is a shareware utility for opening Excel spreadsheets on a Mac. Mac OS
close match a close match or substitute for Microsoft's product
high quality an especially high-quality alternative
low price an inexpensive (or even free) alternative
challenge MS offers a strong challenge to Microsoft's influence
my choice my personal selection
Runs on: Windows Windows, Mac OS Mac OS, Unix-like Unix-like systems, Java Java-compatible systems, Symbian Symbian OS, Palm OS Palm OS, Netware Netware, OpenVMS OpenVMS, BeOS BeOS, OS/2 OS/2, Amiga Amiga, RISC OS RISC OS, DOS DOS
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