Trend Tuesday: Free Office Software on the Internet

With the rising popularity of smart phones and tablet devices, the business world is undoubtedly moving towards a mobile driven workforce. Since we are now constantly connected to the internet, the idea of   “cloud based” computing is becoming more practical. Google capitalized on this by creating Google Docs – a word processor accessed through the internet, rather than the traditional local program found on your computer, like Microsoft Word.   Google Docs was the first   web based word processor that allowed users to create and edit documents from any computer across any network. Naturally, Microsoft and other companies followed suit in order to keep their software relevant (and affordable) because of the fact, Google Docs is free. This led me to ask, Which one is best?

Google Docs– A free web based processor, presentation, and spreadsheet application. Users can create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users (meaning multiple people can edit a document at the same time). Includes a simple web interface that allows users to either save the file to a local computer, email it, or save it online. A downside is that there are limitations to the size of a file you create.

Open Office software logoOpen Office– A completely free and open source offline office application. While Open Office doesn’t have the advantage of a web based application like Google Docs, it includes advanced features that compete with Microsoft Office. Open Office includes support for the .doc format allowing users to create and edit Microsoft Word files.

ZoHo– A web based application, similar to Google Docs. Features a richer interface than the other two and like Open Office, can import many different file types like Microsoft Word. ZoHo doesn’t include as many features like Footnotes and Headers, which can be a big drawback for academics. Still, ZoHo is an adequate web based alternative for people looking to manipulate Microsoft Word files, something Google Docs can’t do.

The next version of Microsoft Office 2010, competes directly with Google by including cloud-based web apps that supplement the standard apps, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The biggest drawback however is that Microsoft Office costs over $100 while the word processors listed above are completely free. Users must decide between the unquestioned advanced features of Microsoft Office and the convenience and price of web-based apps.

If you would like to explore this topic further, please read Mashable’s article on Microsoft Office