Business and Finance

Kingsoft attacks Microsoft: free download of Chinese equivalent to Microsoft Office

Looks like Word, works like Word, but it's free!

Would you like a legal working equivalent to Microsoft Office for free?

For the next 90 days or so, you can download a Chinese-made alternative to Microsoft's Office suite, for free. The download is only 15MB, and includes equivalents to Word, PowerPoint and Excel. The company offering the free software is Kingsoft, whose more poetic Chinese name is Gold Mountain (金山). Kingsoft's Office suite is named WPS Office.

The software is available in versions for both Windows and Linux. According to King Soft, this new release of WPS Office "is an overhaul of 5 million lines of code by 100 engineers over three years", with all the work done in China. The software is available for free for 100 days, after which it will be sold at prices designed not to compete with Microsoft Office, but with pirate versions of Microsoft Office.

There seem to be two main problems with Kingsoft's office suite:

- The menus are only available in Chinese, and there is no English spell check;
- The interface design is a clone of Microsoft Office's interface.

Problems aside, this is the the beginning of a trend that is going to make people in Redmond and Mountain View nervous. Just as the West Coast is getting used to the competition from India, cut-rate Chinese software, hand-coded in Beijing and Hangzhou, is going to present another challenge.

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