Testing Out Office Alternatives

Analysis: eWEEK Labs take a look at several Microsoft Office alternatives that have cropped up during the last couple of years.

With so much of my office productivity app coverage focused on Microsofts Office 2007 this year, I thought a change of pace was in order—Im currently testing several Microsoft Office alternatives that have cropped up during the last couple of years.

While Microsofts Office continues to dominate on corporate desktops, a slew of lower-priced—and, in some cases, free—office suites are now available.

eWEEK Labs has looked at a number of established Office alternatives in the past—such as StarOffice, WordPerfect and OpenOffice.org—but I decided this time around to test suites offered by smaller players still trying to gain recognition.

Most of the suites Im testing, including gOffice, ThinkFree and AjaxLaunch, are Web-based; one of them, GNOME Office, is installed on the desktop.

Ive found so far that none of these suites has all of the capabilities found in Microsoft Office, but, with the best of them, I believe that only the most hard-core power users will ever realize what theyre missing.

So does Microsoft have anything to worry about? Not yet. But with the number of online productivity applications increasing and with users becoming more comfortable with non-Office suites, I wouldnt be surprised to see these applications features catching up to Microsoft Office some day soon.

My reviews are slated to run in the Aug. 14 issue of eWEEK and at eweek.com.

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