Microsoft Office 2010 takes on all comers, LibreOffice, IBM Lotus Symphony, SoftMaker Office, Corel WordPerfect, and Google Docs challenge the Microsoft juggernaut

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Microsoft Office 2010 takes on all comers: 3.3.0 has long been a commonly suggested replacement for Microsoft Office. It offers several common office-suite features at a much lower price -- free -- than Microsoft Office itself, although many of those individual features don't have the level of polish or advancement found in commercial office-suite products. That said, for people who don't need the absolute latest and greatest functionality in every category, is a solid piece of software. (In the interest of full disclosure, again, I admit I have been frustrated by its limitations, but I can recognize that for many other people it will more than do the job.)

Don't be thrown off if you come to from the Microsoft Office side. The program's UI is very vintage 2003 -- dockable toolbars instead of the newer ribbon/tab metaphors that are now all the rage. That said, future versions of may sport a more modern look, although this is still very much under wraps -- nothing more than mock-up designs of such a UI have surfaced yet.

Office suites file format compatibility and other features

 Office Open XMLOffice legacy formatODF Spelling and grammar checkingPDF export HTML exportVBA macro support
Microsoft Office 2010Native formatExcellentGoodExcellent Good Very good Native
OpenOffice 3.3.0GoodExcellentNative formatFair Excellent Good Limited
LibreOffice 3.3.1GoodExcellentNative formatFair Excellent Good Limited
IBM Lotus Symphony 3.0GoodExcellentNative formatFair Excellent Poor (conversion by plug-in only) Limited
SoftMaker Office 2010ExcellentExcellentExcellentGood Very good Good VBA-like scripting language
Corel WordPerfect Office X5Fair (.docx only)GoodFair (.dot only)Good Very good Excellent None
Google DocsVery goodExcellentExcellentFair Excellent Excellent None
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