Anyone seeking out a serious alternative to the well-known and much favoured Microsoft Office suite will often find themselves coming unstuck pretty early on in the process. On the one hand there are several reasonably good open-source office productivity suites available which, in my opinion at least, tend to be somewhat more clumsily designed and difficult to use and on the other hand, well, not much else really (even more so if you don’t want to make use of a web-based solution).
Step in Ashampoo Office 9, not only is this a considerably more cost-effective solution when compared to Microsoft Office itself (and does not require a subscription to be taken out either), but one which is 100% compatible with the official Microsoft Office file formats meaning it serves very well as a simple “drop-in” replacement for the full Microsoft office suite. Furthermore, not only is Ashampoo Office 9 a very well designed and easy to use solution overall, it can also be used across up to 5 PCs on a single licence meaning it could work out much cheaper than continuously subscribing to Microsoft Office in the longer run, especially so for those of us who regally work across two or more devices.
I last reviewed the predecessor to Ashampoo Office 9 (this being Ashampoo Office 8, of course) back in 2021 and remember being very impressed both as to how well designed the entire suite was as well as how solid and reliable everything felt during everyday use. Time to install Office 9 for myself and see how this latest edition of the suite fares, especially so against Microsoft Office 365 which, whilst still an industry leader when it comes to office suites, could work out much more costly over the simple one-off fee of just $99 which is payable for Ashampoo Office 9 – vamos!
Key Features of Office 9
- (NEW) Full Windows 11 support
- (NEW) Multiple interface upgrades, tweaks and improvements
- (NEW) Synchronous side-by-side document scrolling
- (NEW) Enhanced document change tracking features
- (NEW) Create presentations which also work on Linux devices
- Fully compatible with all modern MS Office document formats
- Multi-device licence supports use on up to 5 individual PCs
- Word processor, spreadsheet & presentation apps included
- Improved PDF editing and management tools
- More flexible spreadsheet app with SQLite support
- Auto-correction of common typos
- Improved spellchecking tools
- Improved app theming with updated dark modes
- Over 350 spreadsheet calculations supported (including pivot tables)
- Classic or ribbon toolbar interface options available
- One-off pricing of just $99 (for use across up to 5x PCs)
- Upgrade from older editions for just $38.50
- Ashampoo also offer a 30-Day free trial of Office 9 for all new users!
Office 9 Usability
In this section of my review, I will be downloading the newly released Office 9 from the Ashampoo website and trying the software out for myself. This will involve installing the full Office 9 suite on my own device and then trying out some of the various tools included in the suite, this is currently the word processing application (called “Write”), the spreadsheet application (called “Calculate”) and the presentation application (called “Present”).
This work begins in the next section with the installation of the Ashampoo Office 9 software itself. Remember, Ashampoo offer all new Office 9 users an unlimited 30-day free trial should you want a risk-free way of trying out this ideal Microsoft Office alternative for yourself!
Installing Office 9
Installing the Office 9 suite begins at the official Ashampoo website where a fully functional 30-day free trial of the software can be downloaded and utilised by all new users of the software (a free Ashampoo account is still required for activating this free trial). With a download size of just 216MB at the time of my testing, this was a quick and easy download and I had the special Ashampoo installer up and running and installing Office 9 just a few moments later.
Once the software is activated (or the 30-day free trial in-use) and the installer finished, the Office 9 suite will be installed and ready to use. One of the first settings we will be asked to review when starting up the software for the first time is that of the application’s theme and layout settings (as can be seen below).
As can be seen above, Ashampoo have clearly through very hard about the various options which their users might like to make use of whilst using such office applications. This means we have the option to easily apply both light or dark colour themes, turn on a touch-friendly mode for enhanced use on touch enabled screens as well as the option to use a classic style toolbar or make use of the Ashampoo ribbon menu (the ribbon menu being my personal favourite choice, so this is the one you will see used in the remainder of this review).
Working within the Write Application
“Write” is the name of the word processing application included within the Ashampoo Office 9 suite. This is an application which, as can be seen in the screenshot below, resembles fairly closely the look and feel of some of the more modern editions of Microsoft Word itself and therefore brings with it the benefit of already been very familiar for anyone switching to Office 9 from the original Microsoft Office suite.
In fact, anyone already familiar with Microsoft Office will undoubtedly feel comfortable using Office 9, in general, straight away. Not only does the ribbon menu system look and feel very similar to its Microsoft Office counterpart, but after extended use myself I have personally found it is well designed and makes it easy to access the tools and functionality which might be required in the creation of any digital document.
Moving on to the document creation process itself and we can begin to start looking at some of the many tools and features available across the ribbon toolbar itself. As can be seen below, all of the commonly used word processing tools are easily available via the “Home” tab with additional tools for inserting photos, hyperlinks, shapes plus various other objects available via the “Insert” tab.
Moving on to the “Layout” tab and we see that the Write application provides a very good set of features for specifying document parameters. This includes setting margins, page orientation, page break margins, tab and drop cap spacing, plus many more parameters on top. We can also easily insert columns and line numbering from the document layout tab as well if such functionality is required.
Whilst perhaps not too important for the typical word processor user, the Write app also includes a “References” tab for those requiring additional document management and academic related referencing tools alongside the “Mailings” tool for performing mail merge related operations as well.
Finally, we get to the “View” toolbar tab which is where many of the controls for how the current document appears within the application itself can be configured.
As can be seen above, we get many of the document view modes commonly found in alternative office word processing suites (including Standard, Outline, Master Pages and Book Layout), the ability to toggle page rulers and grids on or off, the ability to adjust document zoom levels (including setting “full page” or “two pages” modes) plus the ability to set and make use of in document bookmarks as well.
Moving on to the more advanced document properties which are available to us (via the “Properties” button found on the “Home” ribbon menu tab) and we see many additional and more advanced settings can also be specified for any document currently being worked on. Options here include being able to specify the exact colours which are in-use, document meta details (e.g., Author name, title, subject etc.), advanced view mode settings plus, importantly, the option to set document protection (including encrypting the entire document for additional document security and protection when required).
Finally, and still in the Office 9 “Write” application, one other notable feature which is particularly well implemented in my opinion is the PDF exporting functionality which is found under the “File” tab (as can be seen below).
Once in this special PDF exporting window (see above) we have a very impressive set of PDF options ready for use before the actual PDF export itself takes place. These options include the ability to only include the current page (or other selected pages) in the export, the setting of image quality and image compression levels, zoom and page layout options plus (and potentially very importantly for many) a full set of options for protecting the PDF document including the ability to fully encrypt the resulting PDF file when required.
And with this the Write application and its core functionality is pretty much covered. Overall, I think Ashampoo have done a really good job here and produced a tool which is easy to use and find your way around (thanks to the great ribbon toolbar implementation) and, as such, this this is a word processing tool which feels very nice to use overall. Great work so far!
Working within the Calculate Application
Calculate is the name of the spreadsheet application included within Ashampoo Office 9. This is a fully functional spreadsheet application which is fully compatible with many commonly used spreadsheet file formats including CSV plus Microsoft Office based XLS and XLSX formats.
As with the “Write” app seen in the previous section of this review, the “Calculate” spreadsheet app retains the same familiar look and feel as more recent versions of MS Office provide and, as such, will immediately feel comfortable and familiar for any experienced spreadsheet user. The same ribbon bar interface again, makes finding all of the many tools, features and data related functions typically used within a spreadsheet easy and most users will undoubtedly be able to start processing data within the “Calculate” app straight away.
As can be seen above, creating spreadsheets is very straight forward in the Calculate app and, as was the case with the Write app seen earlier on, the ribbon menu focuses all of the main (day-to-day) tools on to the “Home” tab meaning simple and straightforward spreadsheets can be built quickly and with ease.
Moving on to the “Insert” menu tab and we see many options available for inserting objects into our spreadsheet. This includes the ability to insert images, text form other documents, hyperlinks and shapes plus the additional option of inserting formatted tables, pivot tables and even whole sheets form other compatible spreadsheet documents in their entirety.
As can be seen above, when inserting certain objects in to the spreadsheet (in this case an image file), we also get some advanced options appear in the ribbon toolbar for additional configuration of said object. In the case of inserting an image, we can easily make small adjustments as required to such images including cropping to size, adjusting the colour and contrast levels and even specifying various framing options to help such inserted content stand out in the spreadsheet.
Moving on and we have a “Layout” tab which allows specifying the document and page properties (including any print and page orientation settings) before reaching the “Formula” tab which contains lots of useful items for working with mathematical and data processing spreadsheet functions.
As can be seen above, one of the really useful aspects to the “Formula” tab which is found within the Calculate application is the ability to easily browse all available formulas as well as the categorisation of such formulas in various different categorised drop-down menus. Not only does this approach make finding the correct formula much easier than having to memorize such formulas or constantly having to refer to a manual, but when hovering over each formula in the dropdown menu the application itself will then also provide a tooltip box showing a brief description of what the function does.
Moving on the “Data” tab and we see that we have available a full set of tools for working with any data contained within the spreadsheet relating to the sorting, categorising and filtering of such values as well as more specialist tools for assisting in the creation of pivot tales. We can also via the “Data” tab turn on document protection features which allow the setting of a password for protecting either an individual sheet or the entire workbook (spreadsheet) itself.
Finally, we also see the “View” tab in the ribbon toolbar where we can additionally set the zoom and page fit properties of the document, configure frozen cells (freeze cells) as well as turning on other useful features such as syntax highlighting and row and column headers when applicable to do so.
Overall, as a spreadsheet application in its own right, Ashampoo Calculate is a very impressive offering and one in which I would imagine many users of other spreadsheet applications could easily migrate over to using for their day-to-day spreadsheet tasks with little to no issues in doing so.
NB – Remember, Ashampoo offer all new users a full 30-day free trial of Office 9 via the official Ashampoo website!
Working within the Present Application
Present is the presentation and slide-show building application included within the Ashampoo Office 9 suite. It is a tool which, as was also the case with the Write and Calculate apps seen so far in this review, will already appear very familiar to anyone coming to the tool from other mainstream office suites.
Inserting text, shapes, text art, tables plus the importing of external media (such as photos) is, as expected, very easy and straightforward within the Present application. This is also the case when setting the overall design and look of any documents thanks to the built-in theming and design templates which can be found and applied via the in-app “Design” tab which can be seen in-use below.
Moving on to the transitions and animations and Ashampoo Present, again, features the ability to make use of a large and easy to navigate collection of readymade templates. This includes being able to select one of many premade transition effects when switching between slides whilst also utilising premade animations when introducing text, images and graphs into any slides currently being developed.
Finally, found across both the “Slide Show” and “View” tabs, we see additional options for adding elements such as rulers and grids to the slideshow, the ability to organise slides more easily via customisable toolbar views, options for turning on automatic spell-checking and auto-correction plus tools for selecting a screen for displaying the presentation and starting it running.
And with this, the “Present” application and the usability aspects relating to the entire Ashampoo Office 9 suite in general have been covered. I think, for me at least, one of the key selling points of Ashampoo Office 9 is that it is genuinely very easy to use and has clearly been designed in such a way as to appear familiar to anyone already using popular office suites such as market leaders Microsoft Office. Whilst ease of use probably won’t persuade many to switch across to Office 9 by itself, the perpetual licencing model which allows the software to be used on up to 5 PCs for a simple, one-off cost of just $99 will undoubtedly appeal to many seeking a good MS Office alternative without the associated subscription costs attached.
As an office suite first and foremost, security is only a small concern when reviewing the Ashampoo Office 9 suite in any meaningful capacity. Having said this, it is also important to address document security when looking at any office suite and how any tools contained within the suite can help in protecting sensitive documents and data.
As can be seen above, one of the easiest methods for securing documents with such an office suite is to simply encrypt such documents via the document properties window. In the case of using the Write application this is as simple as selecting the level of protection to apply (the entire document or simply write / modify protection) and then setting the necessary password which must be entered to unlock the file.
NB – When applying password protection to office documents, always be aware of the level of encryption being applied. This level (strength) of encryption will, in some part at least, be dictated by the file format being used to save the document with older formats (e.g., DOC format) only allowing a maximum level of 128-bit encryption and newer formats (including DOCX and TDMX) allowing much stronger AES 256-bit encryption to be applied.
Anyone seeking the maximum level of protection in such circumstances should look to ensure the entire document is been encrypted (not simply write protection being added) and make use of the newer file formats (DOCX or TDMX) to ensure that AES 256-bit encryption is the applied option.
Further privacy and security can be applied to certain documents in certain situations thanks to the ability to export any documents made within the Ashampoo Office 9 suite to PDF format (something which is supported within all Ashampoo Office 9 applications) and then apply both read or write protection as well as full document encryption to the resulting PDF file.
NB – Whilst PDF documents will inherently provide enhanced document and data protection in many ways all by themselves (e.g., by being more difficult to edit, especially so without special PDF editing software), it should be noted that a maximum level of 128-bit AES encryption is available when pursuing this option versus AES 256-bit encryption when making use of DOCX and TDMX formats (which are both also available within the Office 9 suite).
Ashampoo have a very useful help and support portal available via their official website which features product documentation for Office 9. Alongside this core product documentation is also a comprehensive FAQ section which should be capable of handling most problems which might be encountered throughout day-to-day use of the application.
Should you still need to get in touch with a support representative from Ashampoo, you can also submit support tickets directly online via this same online support portal.
Office 9 Pricing
Ashampoo Office 9 is priced at a one-off cost of just $99 for a perpetual licence which allows use on up to 5 individual PCs. Users of previous versions of Ashampoo Office can also upgrade to this latest version for just $38.50 making this a very affordable way of gaining access to the latest set of office productivity tools with full Windows 11 support available – Check out the official Ashampoo software store for more details on purchasing via either option.
NB – Also be sure to also check out the official Ashampoo deals page to find regular special offers across all Ashampoo software including Office 9!
Office 9 FAQs
Yes, Ashampoo offer users of older editions of Ashampoo Office the option to upgrade to Ashampoo Office 9 for a single payment of just $38.50.
Ashampoo Office 9 contains three office related applications, these are Write (the word processing application), Calculate (the spreadsheet application) and Present (the presentation making application).
Yes, Ashampoo Office 9 is 100% compatible with Microsoft Office file formats including DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX plus various other related formats. In addition to offering users fully compatible file formats for Microsoft Office, Ashampoo also provide their own file formats which can be easily converted back to any of the standard Microsoft Office standards when required whilst also allowing for the full functionality of the Ashampoo Office suite to be utilised in the meantime.
Yes, in my own opinion which is based upon numerous hours of using both Ashampoo Office 9 and the previous edition (this being Ashampoo Office 8), I can happily report that this is a very easy to use office suite overall. Thanks to the well laid out ribbon menus which closely represent other commonly sought after office suites (including Microsoft Office itself) alongside numerous other useful additions including tooltip descriptions when hovering over certain tools and features, Ashampoo Office 9 is a very easy to use and well-designed office suite overall.
Ashampoo Office 9 Alternatives
In this section of my review, I will be listing some of my favourite alternatives to Ashampoo Office 9. These are non-subscription office suite solutions which, like Office 9, are both easy to use and provide a great set of office and productivity tools at a very competitive pricing point.
Remember, any ratings shown below are reflective of my own opinions and are intended only for use as a guide. Always be sure to check the details of any potential office suite before making a purchase and, if possible, always try and make full use of any free trials and demo accounts before committing to making a decision.
1) Google Docs
The Google Docs Suite is a cloud-based office suite which includes Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Drawings, Google Forms, Google Sites, and Google Keep apps. It is offered for free to anyone with a personal Google account and is also included as part of Google Workspace, a subscription service for business-based users.
Despite being a web-based suite which is primarily accessed through a web browser, Google Docs includes all the features you would come to expect from a traditional office suite such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program, drawing program, form builder, website builder, and note-taking app. Whilst accessing the tool is usually done in a web browser (and this has to date proven a very usable and reliable option for doing so), also available are smartphone apps for both iOS and Android devices for accessing various parts of the suite (inducing the word processor and spreadsheet) without the requirement of using a web browser.
Google Docs is 100% free to use for all personal Google account holders and is fully integrated with the 15GB of free cloud storage also available form Google. A business focused edition of the suite also exists for business users and organisations as well. More information on Google Docs can be found via the official Google Docs website.
2) Microsoft Office Home & Student 2021
Microsoft Office Home and Student Edition 2021 is a version of the Microsoft Office suite which requires only a one-time purchase and includes the classic desktop apps Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for either PC or Mac devices.
This perpetual edition of Microsoft Office does not include any of the services which come with a Microsoft 365 subscription and this is a separate, perpetual way of purchasing the Microsoft suite without an ongoing subscription for those requiring such an alternative. If you only need the basic Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps and don’t need any of the cloud-connected features or services, then Microsoft Office Home and Student Edition 2021 is a good option. However, if you want access to the latest features and updates, cloud storage, real-time collaboration and the full functionality of the Microsoft Office smartphone apps, then Microsoft 365 might still be a better choice.
Microsoft Office 365 is priced from $69.99 / year for an individual subscription which also includes 1TB of cloud storage via the Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage service. Also available is Microsoft 365 Family for $99.99 / year which extends this subscription-based service to 5 users in total and Microsoft Office Home & Student 2021 priced at a one-off $159.99 per PC. More information on Microsoft Office and all of its pricing plan options can be found via the official Microsoft website.
Ashampoo Office 9 Review Summary
Ashampoo Office 9 is a genuinely well designed and useful office suite which will immediately be familiar to anyone already using one of the many other popular office suites such as Microsoft Office, albeit without the requirement of having to pay for an annual subscription or utilise a perpetual licencing model which works on a “per device” basis.
Not only is Ashampoo Office 9 a considerably more cost-effective solution when compared to Microsoft Office itself (and one does not require a subscription to be taken out), but one which is 100% compatible with the default Microsoft Office file formats meaning it serves very well as a simple “drop-in” replacement for Microsoft Office. Furthermore, not only is Ashampoo Office 9 a very well designed and easy to use solution overall, it can also be used across up to 5 PCs on a single licence meaning it could work out much cheaper than Microsoft Office in the longer run, especially so for those of us who regally work across two or more devices.
Overall, Ashampoo Office 9 is a great choice for anyone seeking an easy-to-use office suite which can genuinely compete with market leaders such as Microsoft Office on the functionality front, yet prove to be a more economical solution with 5x PC licences provided, by default, which doesn’t require annual subscription payments to be made. Overall, a very easy to use office suite which is very fairly prices and makes for a great drop-in replacement for any popular office suite, great work Ashampoo!