Head to Head: Office 2010 vs Open Office 3.1

UPDATED: It's a battle of the office productivity suites as we look at how Office 2010 shapes up against its main open source alternative. We find out which is best in this head to head review.

Both suites are currently freely available to download online, although Microsoft Office is only free while it is in its beta testing period. The full release is expected to go on sale at the end of June this year.

There hasn't been any official comment on enterprise licensing prices but an interesting development is the suggestion of a monthly subscription fee to use the software. Again we've had no projections of the cost but the concept certainly has the potential to make upgrading a little less painful. There is something about Microsoft Office 2010 pay as you go' that leaves us a little unsettled though.

Open Office is and forever shall be free. Under the terms of its GNU licence you are free to use it on as many systems as you like, with the added bonus that if you are so inclined you're able to access the code and tailor the program in any way you see fit. The only caveat is, naturally, that you aren't permitted to profit from the software, which we see as fair enough.

Winner: Open Office 3.1 its widespread availability and good, solid basic features give Open Office the edge in this round, not to mention its open source driven cost or lack thereof.

Verdict

It's a tie. Although Microsoft’s baby comes out fighting here and nearly edges it. With its attractive, innovative design and richly supported feature set, the proprietary product represents the pinnacle of corporate functionality and while it remains the choice of so many current businesses it will continue to be adopted across the corporate world and the revenue it generates will fund further innovation and depth of support. It simply can’t be beaten for functionality and popularity, a feature that is so often the deciding factor in business. As we mentioned though, potential adopters would do well to sit and assess the realistic need for upgrade before making the jump. It’s owing to this fact that Open Office manages to get a look-in. For basic usability and value the suite represents a sensible choice for small business users who don’t want to sacrifice capability because of cost. The only investment you’ll need to roll this out across your entire office will be time and a little effort and we feel that this coupled with the stable, useful nature of Open Office entitles it to a joint place on the podium.

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