Most Linux-based operating systems, like Mint and Ubuntu, come with a free office suite like LibreOffice. It has most of the features that you’d expect from something “Office-like,” sort of like how Linux has most of what you would expect from a PC operating system. But if you’ve already put a lot of time and energy into learning how a version of Microsoft Office works, “Office-like” just might not cut it.
So how do you get real Office to work on your Linux PC?
Use Wine or Crossover
Wine, short for “Wine Is Not an Emulator,” is the most popular way to get Windows apps (like the full version of Office) to work on a Linux OS. And Crossover, formerly “Crossover Games” and “Crossover Office,” is basically a version of Wine that you can buy tech support for.
Do Wine and Crossover let you use Office in Linux? Unfortunately, not very well. To take just Microsoft Word as an example, a search on the Crossover website and a visit to the WineHQ AppDB both suggest that you will get “silver” level functionality at best, on a scale that goes up to “platinum.” The latest version does not seem to work at all, although if you have the Windows Vista or XP versions of Office you might have better luck.
VirtualBox is one of several virtualization apps which let you basically install Windows inside of Linux, and is one that you can download for free. If you found Wine and/or Crossover to be confusing and technical, though, you’ll probably hate trying to get virtualization to work even more. (I used Linux for five years or so and still had trouble with it.)
Assuming you can get it to work, though, you can’t just use the restore disc that came with your system. You’ll need to buy a boxed retail copy of Windows, and it can’t be an “upgrade” disc, either. So you’re looking at roughly $200 USD, on top of the price of Office.
Use Office Online
This option is free and supported by Microsoft, and is the one that I personally use (albeit in Windows instead of Linux). Just go to this link, and you can use free online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote. They all use Microsoft OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) to save files online, and you get 7 GBs of free storage just for signing up.
Do they have all the features you’re used to, from the full version of Office? No, but if you’ve used Office 2007 or anything newer they probably work more like what you are used to than LibreOffice does. And while Google Docs is more established in the “online office suite” space, I personally feel at least slightly less creeped out by Microsoft than Google.