Using something other than Microsoft Office with Sharepoint Online

Tarkisal used Ask the Experts™
We use Sharepoint Online for our main company document storage and management. When a user opens an Office file (.xls, xlsx, .doc, and docx most commonly) it usually opens into Word or Excel Online. This is fine but limited. Often, the user will have to then go to Edit and then "Edit with Excel (Or Word) and those programs will open up.

The problem is 85% of my users don't use Microsoft Office for anything but basic editing. I AM looking into seeing if just using the Excel and Word online will be sufficient going forward, but it's frustrating to have to buy new copies of Microsoft Office Home and Business for $190-$220 a PC just so they can use this slightly added functionality.

Here is my question -are there any free or cheaper alternatives that will work with Sharepoint Online? I've tried LibreOffice and WPS Office and, while those programs can easily read all of those file types, Sharepoint Online simply doesn't see them as available. If I was to download the file I'm trying to open I could then edit it in WPS Office and then re-upload it, but I'm wondering if there is a way to force Share Point Online to see these other programs and function as if they were opening with Microsoft Office. (The programs are listed as the default application for each file type listed)

I understand Microsoft probably has gone out of their way to not allow a program other than Office proper to work with Sharepoint Online, but if anyone knows of a way to get Sharepoint Online to recognize a different program that would be very helpful as Office 2007 support is ending soon and I will have a very large expense coming up if I can't find a solution. More information below:

Dell PC with Windows 10 Pro
Have tried WPS Office 2016 and Libre Office
See screenshots below for result
Users have Office 365 Subscription K2 or E1 which gives them sharepoint access but not monthly Office 2016 installations
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
Senior Engineer
See if this will work for you.

Here is the SharePoint add-in that can open LibreOffice and MS Office document from SharePoint doc library. You can save it back directly to server from LibreOffice UI, clicking standard Save button on LibreOffice toolbar. Instead of ActiveX it is using a web browser protocol, like MS Office, and works on Windows and Linux.
Colleen Kayter4D Assets

One key difference between Office and the alternatives? You actually connect to SharePoint from within the apps, so you can browse SharePoint and see recently used files from within the app. You can click Save and automatically save to the server. So it's quite possible that beyond SharePoint seeing Word as the default app for .docx, there's a little handshaking going on.

How Office connects to cloud services
How much are you paying per seat for E1? Also, you don't mention how many users you have...

Perhaps it would make sense to upgrade your SaaS subscription to Office 365 Business Premium @ $12/user/month for those users who need more than the basics (if you have < 300 users or E3 @ $20/seat if you have 300+). A key advantage is that those power users would also be able to install Office on their mobile devices and home computer. Also, consider that your real cost for Office desktop apps is not $220/seat but the difference between E1 and E3, but only for the 15% who need it.

Key advantages to Office 365 desktop apps? Zero maintenance. No more service packs, security patches, bug fixes, etc. It's all done for you unless you want to go crazy with manual deployment and group policies.

After doing the math for a few clients, we discovered the cost of Office 365 vs. Perpetual (w/accounting time for depreciating licenses each year over 5 years) to be in favor of the SaaS model.


This is exactly what I was looking for. While I appreciate the other Expert's suggestion, I am looking for the lowest cost solution possible. This plugin should be perfect.


Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial