WPS Office (formerly Kingsoft Office) is an Office program which has been around for almost as long as Microsoft Office. It comes highly praised as an MS Office alternative. Is WPS Office really as good as they say it is? Or is it just over-hyped? Let’s find out…
WPS Office covers spreadsheets, documents and presentations. Chances are if you are reading this review, you’d like to know whether WPS Office makes a good alternative to Microsoft Office so in order to help you better decide I will be rather critical throughout this review.
Downloading from the website is rather straightforward. I used the software for more than 6 months so I got a real good feel for the Office suite. Several versions of WPS Office were tested over a period of a year. The versions tested includes WPS Office 2014 beta, Kingsoft Office and WPS Office 2015 (non-beta). The operating systems used were Windows 8, 8.1 and 10.
Before diving into the full review, here are the pro’s and cons of the Office suit
- High compatibility with Microsoft Office formats
- Fully featured free and paid versions available
- Good-looking interface
- Interface is very close to Microsoft Office products so there is no learning curve
- Full range of formatting and editing options
- a choice between interfaces (ribbon and classic drop down menus)
- Cover pages and quick table styles
- Mobile version available!
- Polished interface with
- An option for the modern look and classic menus
- Microsoft Graphics doesn’t always display properly
- Does not support Open document formats (ODF)
- Mail merge available only in paid version
- Macros available only in paid version
- Watermark added to printed and pdf documents on free version
- No advanced picture effects
- No advanced text effects
- Limited smart-art
WPS Office comes in a highly polished interface which closely resembles Microsoft Office. The tabs you find in WPS Office are nearly identical to the tabs you will find in Microsoft Office products. Furthermore clicking on things like pictures and tables brings up the appropriate tab with relevant options.
Anyone comfortable with Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint can most likely get working straight away with WPS Office without feeling lost. WPS Office also has the option to switch to the classic menu system for those who prefer drop-down menus over the ribbon interface. If you don’t feel like switching your theme completely, you can still access the classic menus by pressing the alt button on your keyboard.
There are also a few things you’ll find here that isn’t in Microsoft’s offering. WPS Office opens new documents are opened in tabs (similar to web browser tabs). I found these rather intuitive since almost all web-browsers have been using tabs for years.
On the right side of the screen you will find a few icons which opens up a side bar called the Task Window. This contains various options such links to recently opened documents, auto shapes, as well as a quick way to access styles and formatting options. The side bar can be minimized or completely hidden.
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Features and function
The document editor (WPS Writer) contains a full range of formatting, layout and editing options. More advanced features such as Macros and Mail merge is only available in the paid version. Features such as quick cover pages. A small amount of document templates as well as cover pages comes pre-installed.
A few unique formatting tools can also be found such as an easy paragraph layout tool which allows for quick and easy paragraph adjustments as well. Tables also have an easy option of adding new rows and columns as well as re-sizing without needing to touch the menu.
The spell-check works well however there doesn’t seem to be a built-in synonyms function or thesaurus.
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The spreadsheet program (WPS Spreadsheets) provides a full range of options as well helpful formula suggestions while you typing. The whole experience is very similar to MS Excel.
Cells that contained errors did not however have a quick option for explaining why the error could have occurred. This is only minor since a quick Google search provided answers. It doesn’t have many settings and options. I also noticed that WPS Spreadsheets chooses the appropriate decimal separator (‘,’ or ‘.’) depending on your location and language settings of your PC, there doesn’t seem to be an option to change this manually from within the program.
Presentations are usually the weak point of most Microsoft PowerPoint alternatives. With WPS Presentation this is not so much the case. All the standard features including animations and slide transitions are present. A range of decent-looking templates are available pre-installed. Organization charts can also be inserted and easily modified.
The presentation package is certainly well equipped and should be more than enough for most people. It was noticed that the animations and transitions are not as refined as the ones that can be found in PowerPoint. Another small issue is the lack of advanced picture styles which would most likely be used more often in a presentation than in a document.
Cloud backups are offered right within the program which can be managed via the Task Window.
Privacy-conscious users may want to switch off user data collection since this is turned on by default.
Performance and output
I rarely had any crashes with WPS Office and the document
The compatibility of Microsoft Office products is one of the best that I’ve seen so far. Most documents, presentations and spreadsheets seemed to open fine. Presentations with complex gradients and effects, however did not show correctly in Presenter but did degrade gracefully. Documents with plenty of autoshapes do suffer from broken layouts.
WPS Office opens, edits and exports to all Microsoft formats but does not support open Formats such as .odf, .ods and .odp. The free version of WPS Office also adds watermarks all printed documents and pdfs which may be a deal-breaker for some.
Around the Web
What others have to say?
WPS Office receives generally positive reviews, Most of the reviews seem to be more than a year old. However one of the more recent reviews by CNET.com gave it an 8.1/10 overall score (review Feb 12, 2015).
LibreOffice is the first alternative that comes to mind. LibreOffice is open source and provides all its features for free with no paid options. While its interface is not as aesthetically pleasing, LibreOffice is well suited for any document editing task. In addition, LibreOffice does not add watermarks but loses out to WPS Office in terms of compatibility with Word documents.
There are also free online alternatives such as Office Online (from Microsoft) and Google Docs. With these, you get top-class collaboration tools and a decent set of basic editing. The caveat of these apps, however is that they do lack the many advanced editing features.
The older version known which is branded as Kingsoft Office is still available for download and does not produce water marks on the print-outs and pdf’s.
The Bottom Line: Is it any Good?
WPS office is well suited for all manner of tasks whether its business documents or student projects and reports. Its high compatibility with Microsoft Office formats also solidifies WPS Office position as one of the better alternatives.
I was quite critical throughout the review, but I admit that the drawbacks are relatively minor (such as the lack of advanced picture effects).
If you are looking for an office program that looks like Microsoft Office and works like Microsoft Office but is allot cheaper (or free) then you will probably be very pleased with WPS Office.
Do agree or disagree with this review? Or do you feel I missed something? Let me know in the comments below.
Editors Note: At the time of publishing The WPS Official website (www.wps.com) seemed to be down. The link above is from a legitamate alternative website owned by the same company (Kingsoft).Their alternative download page was found by visiting the Company’s official web site using Google translate. You can visit the Kingsoft company’s official website or take a look at the WPS Wikipedia entry should you wish to check.