Anyone who said competition is dead in the office suite marketplace hasn't Googled the terms "word processor" or "spreadsheet" lately. Ten years ago, it appeared Microsoft had neutralized all serious threats to its Office franchise. But this industry can change seemingly overnight. And it has.
Today there's a bumper crop of worthy Office alternatives. The list keeps growing, as developers exploit new and potentially better ways to deliver functionality users want in an office suite. There are native desktop replacements for Microsoft Office including free and open-source options, myriad Web-based rich Internet alternatives and even portable platforms.
None of this has been missed by Microsoft, which debuted a revamped Office Professional 2007 last year in an effort to clearly differentiate its cash cow from the bulging mass of Office me-toos, and now is promising a new version that's cloud-enabled. But the new Office user experience, "the Ribbon," is likely responsible for driving once-devoted users into the arms of alternatives.
The good news: it's never been easier to extricate your organization from dependency on the Microsoft Office suite. Here's a visual rundown of 10 alternatives to Microsoft Office, plus one add-on to ease the pain. We focus on word processors for this slide show; not everyone needs a spreadsheet or presentation tool, but we all need a word processor.