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Office programs: Office software at a glance


Everyday office life poses various challenges for everyone involved. Whether it's organising and managing all open tasks, planning and keeping appointments and deadlines, or designing internal and external communication: without the right tools, you'll quickly find yourself at a loss, which is why office software for PC, smartphone and co. has become an indispensable part of modern office life. However, the offer is so diverse nowadays that it is difficult to find suitable office programs for your own requirements. We show you the most important categories of available office software and present a brief portrait of some established solutions.


  • Office suites: The all-rounder office software for everyone

  • Email programs: The heart of office communication

  • Calendar software: Office programs for all your appointments

  • To-do lists: The efficient way to plan tasks


When looking for the right software, companies are often faced with the problem that it is not at all clear which office programs are actually needed for the smooth running of the business. Especially for this purpose, so-called office suites (also: office packages) offer a collection of elementary applications that simplify everyday office work across all sectors. Such suites usually contain word processing programs, spreadsheets, presentation tools, database management systems and communication tools. The classic and undisputed market leader is the Microsoft Office suite, which has been published by Microsoft since 1989, but for which there are now also first-class paid and free alternatives.

Microsoft Office

The proprietary office software suite Microsoft Office is not only the first choice among many Windows users: thanks to versions for macOS, iOS and Android as well as a slimmed-down web variant for all common browsers, the collection is also in demand far away from the in-house operating system. With Office programs such as Word (word processing), Excel (spreadsheet), PowerPoint (presentations) or Outlook (personal information manager), Microsoft has set standards, with the individual tools distinguished both by their simple user guidance and their particularly wide range of functions. The use of the current edition, which is marketed under the name "Microsoft 365", requires the conclusion of a monthly subscription or the one-time purchase of a licence (only available with the "Office Home & Student" package).


The open-source package LibreOffice shows that an office suite does not necessarily have to cost anything. The spin-off of the likewise freely licensed, better-known suite OpenOffice has been independently developed since 2010, and the team even provides different versions for Windows, macOS and Linux. Although the office software included in LibreOffice is free to use, it is in no way inferior to the Microsoft solution: The office programs, such as the text editor Writer or the drawing program Draw, resemble the proprietary applications not only in terms of their operation but also their functionality. Since the LibreOffice programs also support many Microsoft formats such as .docx or .xlsx, collaboration with users of the Microsoft suite is also possible without any problems.

Google Workspace

Since 2016, the search engine giant Google has also offered an office package: The so-called Google Workspace stands out from the previously mentioned solutions in that it is exclusively cloud-based. The various tools for jointly editing documents and planning tasks and appointments are therefore not installed on the PC or mobile device, but can simply be started and used without installation with the browser of choice. However, you only need an active internet connection to synchronise data or the current work status, because most of the Office programs included in Google Workspace also have an offline mode. As with Microsoft Office, a monthly subscription is required to use Google Workspace.


Even half a century after its invention, it is impossible to imagine offices without email as a form of communication. An estimated 196 billion emails are sent worldwide every day, about half of which are professional messages. An email program with which you can receive, send and archive emails should therefore not be missing from any work device - especially since these clients in most cases also function as Personal Information Managers (PIM) by allowing you to manage appointments, contacts, tasks and notes.

Microsoft Outlook

Outlook is the official email client of Microsoft Office and therefore the default choice for many users when it comes to sending electronic messages. After purchase or after taking out an MS Office subscription, the Office program can either be installed on the system of choice or - without installation - used with any common browser. Apps for iOS and Android users are also available. So you can handle your email communication with Microsoft Outlook not only at any time but also from anywhere. In addition to the message centre, the client has an integrated calendar that can be used, for example, to create and coordinate schedules or book conference rooms.


If you are looking for free office software, you will also find it in the email client category: The open-source program Thunderbird, developed by the Mozilla Foundation, is one of the best Outlook alternatives and is also completely free of charge. By default, the client is limited to email but can be extended by various functions with the help of add-ons. For example, you can add a calendar with the Lightning add-on to manage upcoming tasks and appointments directly in Thunderbird. Another popular and very useful add-on is ReminderFox, which can be used to display and manage lists of reminders and tasks.

Windows Mail

The Windows operating system also offers a free office program for email management. Titled simply "Mail", the application first appeared with the Windows Vista edition and is also available in the current Windows 10 version. The tool is equipped with an inbox, calendar and contact management as standard. In addition, you can expand the client via the Microsoft Store with the "Microsoft To-Do" task planner. If you link Mail to a Microsoft Exchange account, you also get access to security functions such as the option to encrypt your messages.


Keeping appointments and deadlines is one of the most important virtues in everyday office life. Relations with business partners can quickly suffer if you do not show the necessary professionalism in this respect. And even within your own company, adherence to deadlines plays an elementary role in achieving the goals you have set. Therefore, do not hesitate to use calendar software or appointment planners to optimally plan your daily routine and not miss any of your appointments. Such special programs offer a much wider range of functions than, for example, the integrated calendar solutions of email clients.


With the calendar application Rainlendar, you can keep track of all important events and tasks. For this purpose, the tool presents corresponding lists directly on your desktop so that you can view them at any time. The graphic style of these lists, the number of which is basically unlimited, can be customised with the help of various skins. Rainlendar is available for Windows, macOS and Linux and saves all data in the standardised iCalendar format (RFC 2445). It is therefore possible to export your appointments and tasks to another program without any problems. The office program for scheduling is available either as a free lite version or as a paid pro version. The latter gives you, among other things, the option of integrating other calendars such as Google calendar.


It is often unavoidable to have to resort to the calendars of several tools - a circumstance that is not exactly in the interest of clarity. OneCalendar, the office software developed by Code Spark, provides a simple and practical solution to this problem: the app for Windows, Android and iOS enables the import of calendars from a wide range of services. These include the following:

  • Outlook

  • Google Calendar

  • Exchange

  • Facebook

  • iCloud

  • WebCal

  • CalDAV

OneCalendar is basically free of charge. However, you can upgrade the Office program to OneCalendar Premium at any time and thereby unlock additional features such as instant synchronisation or a personalisation function.


Far more than a simple calendar is the office software EssentialPIM developed by Astonsoft Ltd. The software for Windows, iOS and Android shines with various other features for organising everyday work, which is why it can also be classified as a Personal Information Manager (PIM) - as already evident in its name. You can also enter tasks and create notes, manage contacts and even integrate email accounts. In addition, a password manager is integrated with the office software.

EssentialPIM is basically free of charge and can be upgraded at any time to the paid Pro edition to gain access to a huge synchronisation package (including Google, iCloud, Outlook, CalDAV and CardDAV), strong encryption methods or a note-taking function for the desktop.


An indispensable tool for everyday office life, which is also well known in private life, is the to-do list. Such a list of all tasks to be done makes self-organisation or teamwork much easier and also forms the decisive basis for successful time management. The individual items on the list can be assigned to specific persons and checked off as soon as they are completed - if new tasks arise, simply add them. Instead of keeping your to-do list on a sheet of paper or on a flipchart, you can also do this on your PC or mobile device thanks to appropriate office software.


One of the best-known office programs for task management is the web service Evernote, which was released in 2008. You can either use the browser or the respective app for your device (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android) to type notes into the application or scan handwritten notes, create to-do lists or add photos, images, recordings, etc. to organise your thoughts and make sharing in the team as easy as possible. However, the latter is only reserved for users of the paid variant Evernote Business, which, among other things, increases the monthly upload limit to 20 GB and allows offline access with the mobile apps. In the free Basic edition, this is only possible with the desktop app.


The office program Todoist is an old hand among to-do list tools. The free software for Windows does not require any installation - you simply download the executable program file and start the task planner by double-clicking. Todoist presents you with upcoming tasks in a clear tree structure, whereby you can create as many subtasks as you like for each task and set comments that can be folded in or out for better clarity. In addition, you can define the following settings for each task, among others:

  • Priority

  • Time required

  • Deadline

  • Status

  • Person responsible

  • Category

In addition, you can store links to resources in Todoist that are required for a task or a task branch.


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