Competition watch


Isn’t it cute?

Here you can see a CD-ROM and the tiny retail box of new Microsoft Office 2013.

So, is this the installation disk? Hmm, wait. It seems the CD-ROM doesn’t even fit in the box. To solve this riddle: If you buy Microsoft Office 2013, they are not including an installation disk at all anymore. All you get are two pieces of paper, a key code, and a download link.

Pretty thrifty to skimp on a 20 cent CD-ROM in a package that sells for $139.99! If you are on a slow internet connection, you won’t be happy.

So this is annoying. But of course it’s more important to see what’s behind the curtain. Let’s have a look and compare Microsoft Office with SoftMaker Office.

Microsoft Office 2013: The low-end package is called “Home and Student” and already costs $139.99. For this price, you get a single license for just one PC. Before, with Microsoft Office 2010, they gave you three licenses.

So, if you wish to install Microsoft Office 2013 on a second PC (for example, your notebook computer), be ready to shell out another $139.99. Total: $279.98. That’s for an office suite that you may not use for commercial purposes. Or for non-profit use, for that matter.

Microsoft Outlook is not included with Microsoft Office 2013 Home & Student. If you need it, you have to purchase the Home & Business edition of Microsoft Office. It costs $219.99, again for a single license.

By the way: Microsoft ties the product key to your hardware. If you buy a new computer, you will have to buy Microsoft Office 2013 again. Hard to believe? We thought so as well, until we found the Microsoft Office 2013 license agreement:

Have a look at the yellow passages. Incredible.

SoftMaker Office Professional 2012: At $99.95, our best package costs $40 less than the cheapest one from Microsoft. If you are entitled to upgrading, you pay only $44.95.

For these prices, you will receive three licenses and not just one. These may be used at home and commercially. And one of the best e-mail clients is already included: eM Client Professional 5. If you buy another computer, your license does not expire. And if you need help, SoftMaker’s tech support is available free of charge, just a phone call or e-mail away.

So why do so many people still buy Microsoft Office?

Honestly, we don’t know. Is it because they think they have to use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to stay compatible? Are they afraid that they can’t exchange files with friends and collegues seamlessly when they use an alternative office suite? That may be true of other office suites, but definitely not of SoftMaker Office. Equipped with the best import and export filters in the industry, SoftMaker Office handles all Microsoft Office formats with ease.

So, in fact there is no good reason. Don’t follow the herd, think for yourself!

UPDATE 2013-02-02: The press and news web sites have now also picked up this story and confirm that Microsoft is tightening the screws on licensing:

The uproar seems to be so big that Microsoft felt compelled to issue a statement. In short: No, there is no installation disk anymore. No, the license may no longer be used on three PCs. No, the license may not be transferred from a dead PC to a new one, unless the defective computer is still under warranty (in some countries, warranty lasts only 90 days after purchase). In that case, Microsoft makes a special “exemption” so that the customer may continue using the product he paid for on a new PC. Awfully nice of them!


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  • Dan says:

    Hi, I’m a paid Softmaker Office user since version 2008 (I had used 2006 as a free app). As long as you keep improving MS Office file format support, I’ll keep buying upgrades. Cheers!

  • dhwan says:

    You right! Microsoft Office more expensive than Softmaker Office

  • nadeem says:

    i agree that micro$ office is not my thing and all micro$ i use ubuntu as my only operating system but as i softmaker office user i would like to see more functinality and ease of use such as i can drop pic without inserting it from my desktop i want to be able to move tables and align it easily. and finally i compare docx files i open with libreoffice 4 RC3 with softmaker and both open them so well :)

  • Ger May says:

    This MS “deal” means it is no longer a buying of software but a rent. From the MS license:
    “We do not sell our software or your copy of it – we only license it”
    In Dutch tax law this officially means it is no longer a business investment which means that is has hefty tax disadvantages for (small) businesses….. Americans have never understood Europe with it individual rules per country. An extra chance for the competition!

  • John says:

    I’ve been using SoftMaker for years. When I recommended SoftMaker to a friend that was very experienced at using Word, he was skeptical.
    I finally convinced him to give it a try and he was amazed at how easy and intuitive SoftMaker is. He also enjoys the integrated export to pdf function.
    He has bought and installed SoftMaker on his pc, laptop and Android smartphone and never looked back!

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  • John says:

    Hi Martin!

    Could you do a comparison of SoftMaker for Android vs the Kingsoft Office 5.3.2 (Free) application.

    I think many people will buy SoftMaker once they know its advantages.

    Thanks! :)


  • Jim Amy says:

    I have been a very happy SoftMaker user for many years! Started using it on my PocketPC then Windows and have not looked back. It is totally seamless with .docx files and other MS Office Suite files. The support is great and issues are resolved speedily. The only thing that will improve SoftMaker is to provide it for the Windows Phone platform THEN I will be completely content! 😉

  • daniel says:

    microsoft provide hebrew localized version (interface),
    will softmaker make translation like that ??
    that the reasone i have both

  • Gary says:

    SoftMaker overall is very good. The big downside for me is the EM client. It will not import from Eudora and does not support multiple Personalities. However, neither does Outlook.

  • Christopher Clough says:

    Last time I checked, while the basic functionality of Softmaker was interchangeable with MS Office, macros and code written behind Excel spreadsheets was not compatible. Has this changed? I am not prepared to move to Softmaker until VBA code written behind Excel spreadsheets works in Softmaker, and vice versa.

  • Ed Kelley says:

    Interesting. I worry about full compatibility. I’m a scientist (physicist) and I am forced to use the MathType addin to MSOffice in order to type equations. Additionally, I interact with others globally where MSOffice is the common denominator. Is your software compatible wth MathType and all those fancy equations and equation numbering?



  • Ozogg says:

    One (major) deficiency in my old Softmaker Office,
    was that in the EXCEL component,
    one could rotate a cell by 90degrees,
    and the borders would rotate,
    BUT NOT the enclosed text.

    Thus Softmaker Excel was quite incompatible (and unfixable)
    with all of my MicroSoft Excel files.

    Has this major flaw been fixed now ?

  • Taylor Lake says:

    I gave up on Microsoft Office with their 2007 version and its pre-literate menus. Thank God for SouthMaker Office and its compatibility features, otherwise I wouldn’t know what to do.

  • Alex says:

    Использую Ashampoo Office (SoftMaker Office) уже несколько лет. Должен сказать, что SoftMaker выпустили действительно достойный продукт, способный не только составить конкуренцию, но и полностью заменить MS Office. При этом хочу отметить, что ribbon-интерфейс все таки играет свою роль – к нему привыкаешь, он кажется очень удобным и после MS Office на работе эффективно использовать богатый функционал SoftMaker дома получается не сразу :-) В остальном SoftMaker очень и очень достойный продукт! Разработчикам желаю успехов и благополучия, не останавливаться на достигнутом! Новых целей и их достижения!
    P.S. Отдельное “Спасибо!” за русский интерфейс!

  • Marcin says:

    Well, SoftMaker is not 100% compatible with MS Office, as you claim. There are some very minor but annoying quirks. For example, PlanMaker changes the print area of the Excel sheet, which is quite annoying.

  • admin says:

    MathType is just an OLE server, so you can certainly insert MathType objects in SoftMaker Office. BTW, Equation Editor which we include in SoftMaker Office is a smaller edition of MathType from the same manufacturer.

  • admin says:

    Macros in Excel files are preserved by PlanMaker, but you cannot execute them. We have BasicMaker which offers an OLE object model which is a subset of Excel’s, so you can write macros that work with Excel and PlanMaker likewise.

  • admin says:

    About Eudora: If Eudora can export to .eml file format, you can import these into eM Client. I am not sure what you mean with personalities but you can have an arbitrary number of e-mail accounts in eM Client. And if you mean multiple users on the same machine: eM Client’s mail database is separate per user; if you log in to Windows under a different account name, you will have a separate mail database.

  • admin says:

    Daniel: You can create Hebrew documents with SoftMaker Office and we even have a Hebrew spellchecker , but we don’t (yet) offer a Hebrew translation of the menus and dialog boxes.

  • admin says:

    Marcin, as far as I know, the print area feature is implemented in exactly the same way as in Excel. If you know of an incompatibility, please mail a descriptiond and sample file to support (at) for further investigation.

  • admin says:

    PlanMaker supports rotation in 90/180/270 degrees, and of course this includes the cell text. What we don’t yet support is arbitrary rotation, but this is slated for the next release.

  • Evgeny says:

    I have played with SoftMaker. Sure, nice, unexpensive, fast. One problem – I’m on Mac.
    Of course it is too silly just say: please do a Mac version of your software. I know by myself
    what is it write/debug a piece of code. Nevertheless, if we could see this perfect package
    on Mac – it’ll be a BIG BIG event for entire Mac community. I believe, at least

  • Microsoft Office still survives based in one thing: ACCESS.

  • Eduardo says:


    I use FreeBSD, and the Linux version works nice here (except the installer). Perhaps you can install it there too.

  • BillyG says:

    I know about LibreOffice & OpenOffice yet I still shelled out money for Softmaker. After I tried the free trial, I was impressed enough to plunk down cash for it. I think it’s a fair price for what you get.
    I see a lot of people complaining about 100% compatibility with Microsoft Office. Look, nothing is 100% compatible except Microsoft Office itself, and even then, you better have the “right” version of Microsoft Office.
    The fact is most users only use a small subset of Office features and just about any alternative office suite will have good enough support to be more than useable. And most people are not in a position where they are exchanging office documents so frequently and with “important” people that 100% compatibility is needed.
    Some of you may actually have a lot of old documents in Office format that you don’t want to give up, but 1) You still have your Office license, nobody ask you to give it up and 2) What’s wrong with transitioning to something new/better? That’s like saying I refuse to sell my old 1970’s car that gets 12 MPG because the new cars don’t support leaded gasoline.

    Softmaker Office is not perfect, but neither is any other office suite and I see progress from Softmaker and it’s always been very reasonable cost, not giving me the shaft like Microsoft.
    (Hey Softmaker, could you make the toolbars allow to sit next to each other on the same row? Also Planmaker could do with the “Text-to-Columns” feature from Excel)

    And regarding Outlook compatiblity, really, Outlook is the best e-mail client if you are working with an Exchange server. How many home users do? Because if not, Outlook is actually a fairly crappy e-mail client.

  • Dave says:

    Have Softmaker on some machines and MS Office on others. I find Softmaker easier to use and not as jumbled. Microsoft has a huge staff and they need to add or change something every year to justify their paychecks. Many companies demand some “hard deliverable” annually, so they make changes and tweaks basically to stay employed. MS Office has become bloated and slow and complex. Softmaker is much quicker on my older machines, and is 99.99% compatible with everything. The little adjustments in some Planmaker screens are hardly worth mentioning. Especially since now MS Office “helps” me by making decisions I don’t want on its own. It’s Softmaker for me whenever I upgrade or buy a new machine.

  • admin says:

    BillyG: Thank you for your thoughts and support. Incidentally, the feature you are looking for is right there in PlanMaker: Table > Text to Columns.

  • Rich Cochran says:

    I have KingSoft office, MS Office 97-2000-2003-xp, Ashampoo office, Libre office, and Softmaker. All I want is for somebody to throw in an Outlook replacement minus the Exchange server into their bundle that is integrated with the rest of the package. I don’t need 1000 fonts. Some format issues still exist in all office products. A fully integrated package is a must if you want me to pay close to $100 with full online and phone support…..

  • DougAJ4 says:

    If it ran VBA macros reliably then I’d consider it, but since it doesn’t it’s a non-starter.

  • OpenCritic says:

    I’m impressed. And I wish someone explain “commercial usage”.

    For example: if I’m student with Home/Student MoneySuck Office 20xx
    and I write a CV and cover letter for applying for job
    (I mean I want earn money by introducting myself via CV and CL
    with Times New Roman font :D) it is
    it is no “commercial usage”? And I’m allowed by licence to do this?

    OR “non-profit” licence means only writting school homeworks? 😀

    Many thanks for explaination.

  • admin says:

    Rich, have you looked at eM Client Professional that is part of SoftMaker Office Professional? It is a great alternative to Outlook.

  • Marcel D. says:

    They finally did it!

    They’re digging their own grave. While software is getting more affordable each and every day (like apps for just a few $$ in the phone/tablet markets), MS is trying to reverse the trend and multiplies the price of their suite by 3 .. 10 (3 licenses for 4 years: 3*4*$139.99 = $1679,88. Peanuts for students or private households, hey? They will fail, at least on the home/student market.

    While the business market is still under MS’s strong hold, the truth is that MS Office is getting worse with every update. And it still carries around some serious bugs from version 2.0, back when we used Win 3.1 as an OS.

    Have you ever tried, like I did with MS Word 2010, to edit a large document (say 400 pages, 200+ illustrations and 30 tables, table of contents, table of figures, and so on)? Fail. Document frozen for 20+ seconds every other minute, illustrations crossing page borders, illustrations getting lost or moved around, and finally, tadaa …: epic crash, disk file destroyed, FUBAR. In one word: unusable.

    I tried Softmaker Office Pro instead. Maybe not always fun to use (after finally getting accustomed to MS Office 2010 ribbons I am constantly browsing the menus), but quite compatible, running swiftly and ROCK SOLID. I hope that MS will not try to buy it out and ruin it like Oracle did with Open Office.

  • When you make your software 1000 percent compatible with MS OFFICE,
    I will switch ALL of our machines to your software. Let me know when this happens. THANK YOU. FEB-20-2013

  • Ben says:

    I have a softmaker license, but I don’t use it.

    Microsoft offers students/academics a US$79 Office 365 license for 4 years that can be used on 4 devices: 2 computers (Windows or Mac), plus one tablet plus one smartphone. Total cost per year per device? US$5.

    In addition, it is the on-line version, which provides:
    60 minutes of Skype calls
    20Gb of free storage
    Use anywhere via web page functionality

    Sounds great to me, and certainly meets my needs!!

  • Ben says:

    I forgot to mention, that the student/academic Office 365 license also includes all the apps: Word/Excel/Powerpoint/OneNote/Outlook/Publisher/Access. Wow – great value for $5 per device per year!

  • Wes Westberg says:

    I have been using SoftMaker off and on since 2006. I am using 2012 Pro. I write for a living. MS tries to change what they think is right. SoftMaker lets me write what I want and let me change things the way I would like. The only thing I miss is the grammar checker, although MS wasn’t correct most of the time. At home I only use SoftMaker. If I am working at an office they always want me to use MS, but with SoftMaker on a usb I can work more comfortably.

  • Alice S. says:

    Just got under the wire in buying 3 license MS Office 2010. Will not upgrade to 2013. Softmaker didn’t have some of the fonts I needed and my computer got viruses when I downl

    oaded some of your free fonts. I finally had to give up on Softmaker.

  • Milu says:

    I believe MS will lose a bit of market soon. Just wait for the people to hear about this licensing model!

  • François Vanzeveren says:


    Continue the good work on Softmaker Office.
    But please, if you could improve drastically the equation editor…. I am using OpenOffice when I need to write technical papers with lots of formulas…


  • Daniel Feiglin says:

    What follows is based on TextMaker 2012 rev 675 running under Win 7 (I have similar experience with the corresponding Linux version).

    I have also commented at various times about (lack of) Hebrew support. As far as I can see, you can switch to Arabic for RtL support and then use a Hebrew font. So far so good. Things go awry on three points:
    1. Dates and times – there is no support for the Hebrew style Gregorian dates much less Hebrew Lunar Calendar. The only options are Gregorian and Arabic.
    2. The previous point is a special case of the more important issue, that Hebrew is not available in the general language options.
    3. In RtL mode, the “swipe selection” with the mouse does not work as expected. Apart from mentioning it as an annoyance, I won’t go into details here.

    From a technical standpoint, the RtL and mixed language support should be very similar for Arabic, Fars(Persian) and Hebrew.

    I find this situation rather strange, as the Israeli market for almost anything you like exceeds the combined Arab markets. For example, the “small” hi-tech company to which I contract in Tel Aviv, employs over 200 people worldwide of whom about 160 are local. Each employee has a laptop or workstation with MS Office enabled for both Hebrew, English and in many cases, Russian as well. Go figure the arithmetic …

    SoftMaker combines an inexpensive quality product with a commercial commitment missing from free open software offerings, making it an otherwise attractive option. For the foregoing reasons, I cannot present it to our IT people for consideration.

    P.S. About LibreOffice: I’ve tried it, but it is not quite ready for “prime time” in terms of stability or compatibility – indeed some of the correspondents on this blog have touched on some of these issues.

  • admin says:

    Alice, fonts are not application-specific. If you install your fonts in Windows, they are available in all Windows applications. It is not necessary to choose your office suite upon the fonts you want.

  • admin says:

    Ben, are you aware that we offer academic licenses as well?

  • admin says:

    Daniel, thank you! I will forward your comments about Hebrew to our developers. Can you tell me more about your problems with “swipe selection” in RTL text?

  • Phil says:

    I agree with Evgeny. Please do a MAC version. Surely not too difficult.

    I have given up using Microsoft windows and have converted to Apple Mac.

  • While I like Textmaker a lot, and use it for some projects, I was recently forced to transfer the MS for a book I am writing from Textmaker back to MS Word. The reason: MS Word supports OpenType, making the characters available that are not accessible via Unicode utilities.

    So Microsoft still has me by the throat, at least until Softmaker catches up in this one (to me) crucial area.

    C’mon, Softmaker: you can do this!

  • Jan says:

    Is Softmaker Office vulnerable to virus like Microsoft Word

  • admin says:

    Jan, while I cannot absolutely rule out that one could craft a document that causes TextMaker to break, it is pretty certain that it is not vulnerable to the same viruses that penetrate Microsoft Word, as its program code is completely different. Until we sell tens of millions of copies of SoftMaker Office, you should be pretty safe — it is not lucrative yet to craft a virus for SoftMaker Office … 😉

  • David Marriott says:

    What is not to like about SoftMaker Office?

    People (and companies) that are stuck with Windows tend to go on about the imagined learning curve involved in adapting to another product (or a different operating system) but really, what learning curve? SoftMaker is more straightforward to learn than trying to suss out yet another version of Windows Office. The design is simple and intuitive, and refinements do not amount to the addition of flashy ribbons or other unnecessary embellishments!

    A key selling point for me has been that SoftMaker is a fully-fledged office suite that works well on old computers. It runs like a breeze on our second family PC (currently hosting the lean Peppermint OS Linux) which has about as much RAM as a toaster!

    I still find it amazing that a small company (in comparison with overblown rivals) has managed to develop and sustain such a robust product, which runs sweetly on a variety of platforms. There is a true model of efficiency for you!

    As you will have gathered from this post, I like SoftMaker Office a lot and I intend to continue using it, on Linux!

  • Stacey says:

    Just wanted to say, SoftMaker you now have a new user and devotee. I was going to upgrade to MS Office 2013, but when I read the part about having to buy a new liscence for EVERY COMPUTER my jaw hit the keyboard.

    I’ll still keep MS Office 2007, but stuff Microsoft for 2013! They are digging their own grave with this. Just don’t let anyone try to take you over. buy you out, SoftMaker are doing just fine on their own!