Ask most people to name a productivity suite and chances are they'll say Microsoft Office, but they might also name one of the numerous competitors that have sprung up. None have completely displaced the Microsoft monolith, but they've made inroads.
Most of the competition has positioned itself as being better by being cheaper. SoftMaker Office has demonstrated you don't always need to pay Microsoft's prices to get some of the same quality, while OpenOffice.org proved you might not need to pay anything at all. Meanwhile, services like Google Docs are available for anyone with an Internet connection.
[ Also on InfoWorld: "10 great free desktop productivity tools that aren't OpenOffice.org" | "Great Office 2010 features for business" | Follow the latest Windows developments in InfoWorld's Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]
Microsoft's response has been to issue the newest version of Office (2010) in three retail editions with slightly less ornery pricing than before, as well as a free, ad-supported version (Microsoft Office Starter Edition) that comes preloaded on new PCs. Despite the budget-friendly competition, Office continues to sell, with Microsoft claiming back in January that one copy of Office 2010 is sold somewhere in the world every second. (Full disclosure: The author of this review recently bought a copy for his own use.)
How well do the alternatives shape up? And how practical is it to switch to them when you have an existing array of documents created in Microsoft Office? Those are the questions I had in mind when I sat down with both the new version of Microsoft Office and several other programs (and one cloud service) that have been positioned as low- or no-cost replacements.
Microsoft Office 2010
Despite all efforts to dethrone it, Microsoft Office remains the de facto standard for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and to a high degree, corporate email. Other programs may have individual features that are better implemented, but Microsoft has made the whole package work together, both across the different programs in the suite and in Windows itself, with increasing care and attention in each revision.
Word processing (20.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
|Microsoft Office 2010||10.0||9.0||10.0||9.0||10.0||8.0|
|IBM Lotus Symphony 3.0||7.0||8.0||7.0||8.0||7.0||7.0|
|SoftMaker Office 2010||9.0||9.0||9.0||7.0||9.0||7.0|
|Corel WordPerfect Office X5||6.0||6.0||6.0||6.0||6.0||5.0|
You may still be better off sticking with Win7 or Win8.1, given the wide range of ongoing Win10...
Early results look promising: the many-hours-long Win7 waits may be behind us
Now that we're down to the wire, many upgraders report that the installer hangs. If this happens to...
Review: We've seen this 'one device for everything' movie before, and it ends just as badly this time
Long before self-driving cars triumph, new and enticing auto-related products will lure you into...
The newest edition of the powerful Python-to-C compilation framework adds speedups harvested from the...
For next year, the language will focus on easier use, better tooling, and improved integration with...