Microsoft Office may be the most popular office productivity suite currently on the market, but don’t expect this to last forever considering the slew of new, web-based, and open-source alternatives coming every day. Recently, in only the last 2 to 3 years, not only has the number of MS Office competitors grown significantly, but also the quality of these products has increased immeasurably.
The best part about these new office alternatives is that they are completely FREE and they work with Microsoft Office, so if you or your company are locked into Office currently, you can integrate open-source software into your systems slowly and carefully. If you’re a consumer, you can now create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the fly, access them from anywhere, and open them in MS Office for compatibility purposes.
Here’s a list of six of the most popular alternative office productivity suites out there today:
Online Office Software
1. Google Docs - This is probably the most heard of Office competitor that most people already know about. Google Docs is completely online and includes a web-based Word Processor, Spreadsheet application, and a Presentation app. More on Google Docs features (incl. introduction video).
2. Zoho - Zoho is probably the best online office productivity suite with not only word processor, spreadsheet and presentation apps, but also includes online project management, CRM solutions, web conferencing, online database with reports, online planner, group chat, wiki, and lots more. It also includes a plug-in for MS Office so you can work both online or offline. Learn more about Zoho.
3.Thinkfree - Thinkfree claims to have the best integration with Microsoft Office. Also, the interface for each app is very similar to MS Office including the toolbars, icons, and functions. Thinkfree also has advanced collaboration features such that users can share, edit, and contribute their ideas remotely. More on Thinkfree (incl. video demos and screenshot).
Downloadable Office Software
5.StarOffice - StarOffice is from Sun Microsystems and has recently been released under the Google Pack as a free download. StarOffice runs on Windows, Linux, and Solaris systems. You’ll have to download OpenOffice if you want it for the Mac.
4. IBM Lotus Symphony - IBM Lotus Symphony is a direct competitor to the Microsoft Office suite because it is also a desktop application aimed at individuals and businesses. The suite consists of Symphony Documents, Symphony Presentations, and Symphony Spreadsheets. I wrote about it before, so if interested check out my IBM Symphony review.
6. OpenOffice - OpenOffice is a multi-platform (Win, Mac, Linux) and multi-lingual office suite which is compatible with all major office suites (i.e. Microsoft Office). It includes Writer (word processing), Impress (presentation), Math, Draw, Calc (spreadsheet), and Base applications. IBM Lotus Symphony and StarOffice are both based on the code from OpenOffice.
And if that’s not enough choices, Adobe is planning on releasing it’s own online word editor called Buzzword. Plus, Yahoo may be joining the crowd soon also with it’s recent purchase of Zimbra. So if you’re still stuck on Office, be sure to check out all the new alternatives as they will probably be the future of office productivity suites.