This paper compares and contrasts three of the most popular office productivity suites that are currently in use by businesses worldwide. These are MS Office, OpenOffice.org and Google Apps. In this paper five criteria have been use to evaluate these software and a final recommendation has been made in the conclusion. These criteria are Cost, Performance, Features, Technology Support as well as Security and Patches Availability. These criteria were chosen to evaluate the software from a business perspective. The conclusion of this paper recommends Open Office because of its cost and the large number of features that makes it very competitive in the market.
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The MS Office is the office productivity suite by Microsoft. It is one of the most popular applications that are used worldwide for creating electronic documents. Its features include a very user-friendly interface, seamless integration into Mycroft’s own Windows operating system as well as tools that accomplish most tasks require to create a professional document. Apart from its business use, MS Office is also preferred for creating academic documents as well due to availability of large number of templates as well as referencing and citation support (Microsoft Corporation).
The Open Office is not-for-profit office productivity application suit by Sun Microsystems Inc. Its features include its cost, a user friendly interface and a large support base over the Internet. Similar to MS Office, OpenOffice.org also features a very user-friendly interface which is supported by a number of tools which assist in increasing the productivity of the user in an office environment (OpenOffice.org).
The Google Apps is a relatively new comer to the scene of office productivity suite. Google Apps is a collection of online tools which are commonly used in all offices. In order to use Google apps any user can purchase its subscription and login to the site using his/her own Gmail address (Google Inc.).
Criteria Chosen and its Justification
The criteria chosen for comparing the three office productivity suites are Cost, Performance, Features, Technology Support as well as support such as patches. Cost is an important factor to consider, since the businesses are interested in finding out if they would benefit from the purchase or not. Performance is another important consideration that has been made in this paper since faster application would help businesses in achieving their goals faster. Features of each application have also been considered, in order to find out which application provides the most ease of use. As more and more technologies are invented and brought into the market, it is important that these technologies are supported by these applications so that they can be fully exploited. Furthermore, the after sales support in the form of software patches and update are also important in order to remove and loophole or bug in the application that is found in the software suite after it has been sold.
Criteria Evaluation for Office Suites
The price range of Microsoft’s Office starts from $150 for the Office Home and Student Edition and goes up to $680 for Office Ultimate 2007. There are other options available as well such as Office 2007 Basic which is only available with new system as well as Office Professional Plus 2007 and Office Enterprise 2007 which are only available under volume licensing agreement (Microsoft Corporation).
The OpenOffice.org Suite is available free of cost from the OpenOffice.org website. Furthermore, free CD-ROM of OpenOffice.org suite is available from a number of distribution centers present throughout the world (OpenOffice.org).
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Google Apps come in two versions. Google Apps Education Edition is free of cost, while the Google Apps Business Edition is available for use at the cost of $50 per user per year. It also provides a 30 day free trial of Google Apps Business as well (Google Inc.).
MS Office 2007 performs much better than its predecessors. In many comparison reviews it has also been determined that MS Office is also faster than any other Office Suite in performing a number of tasks (Bonfield and Quinn).
The OpenOffice.org is said to be a bit slower than its pricey competitor. However, the performance difference is almost negligible when the most recent versions are compared (Bonfield and Quinn).
The Google Apps suite is an online application suite. Therefore, its performance only depends upon how fast Google’s servers are and how much load they are catering to at that moment (Google Inc.).
The MS Office suite contains a range of application that satisfy the need of reports, letters, spreadsheets, presentations and a number of documents in an office environment. It contain 5 basic applications each of which contains a number of functionality which makes it tremendously easy for the user of application to perform tasks such as proof reading, document style setting, creating tables and spreadsheets as well as making professional presentations. It also features a user-friendly interface from which all features can be accessed very easily (OpenOffice.org).
The OpenOffice.org also contains separate applications which are used for work processing, spreadsheets creation, professional presentation creation as well as for creating charts and drawing. However, the features and functionality of each application is much less than that of its competitor in MS Office Suite. Its design has been kept simplistic to make it more user-friendly and because of the comparative lack of features in each application (OpenOffice.org).
Each Application in Google Apps offers a lot of features for an online application. However, due to obvious restrictions that web applications face (such as security restrictions) Google Apps also has a number of features missing from its application. However, its tremendous feature of being accessible from anywhere in the world makes up for its shortcoming, and it is used tremendously by people on the move (Strickland).
MS Office has a lot of new technologies which proves very useful for businesses where employees have little time to spend on documentation hassles. It allows you to import picture directly from a Scanner or a Camera. Furthermore, it also has excellent support for blogs and RSS feeds support for SMSs as well as for ODF and PDF format which are two of the most widely supported document standards. However, MS Office is only restricted to two operating systems which are Windows and Mac. Hence business users who wish to use MS Office will be forced to use either of the two operating systems (OpenOffice.org).
OpenOffice.org has a built in support for ODF and PDF format. In addition it can also read directly from camera or scanner and also provide support for blogging and RSS as an extension. The biggest advantage of OpenOffice.org is that it is multi-platform. This means that OpenOffice.org distributions are available for most of the currently popular operating system, thus offering flexibility and peace for mind to businesses. A portable version of OpenOffice.org is also available which is considered a precious resource for people who are constantly on the move (OpenOffice.org).
Since Google Apps are web based, this means that they are platform independent and only require a browser to run. Though Google Apps offers the number of features when it comes to word processing, it offers little support for multimedia technologies such as OCR, scanner and Camera support. However, Google Apps does have significant support for RSS Feeds and Blogs which makes it easier for business users to keep themselves and others updated regardless of their geographical location and device availability (Google Inc.).
Security and Patch Availability
Being popular software, MS Office gets reported for a lot of bugs and security loopholes. However, Microsoft is quick to release patches for which users are informed either through email or through Windows Update Tool notifications (Microsoft Corporation).
Being free software, OpenOffice.org also gets a lot of bugs discovered in it. However, a strong internet community presence on the Internet makes sure that patches for such bugs are available as quickly as possible while constantly revising the software for updates. However, the only way the user is informed is through OpenOffice.org newsletter and it requires the updates to be downloaded and installed manually which can be troublesome for busy users of the product (OpenOffice.org).
The best feature of Google Apps is that its user has a lot less to worry about fixing bugs and security loopholes. Since Google Apps requires JAVA, the only update that is required is the update of Java Virtual Machine on the user’s PC, which can be set to automatic to make it hassle free. All other aspects of bugs are taken care of by Google (Strickland).
Though MS Office offers a lot of features and after sales support in the form of enhancement updates as well as bugs patches, its cost makes it prohibitive. OpenOffice.org on the other hand is available free of cost, and offers much of the functionality offered by MS Office through built in support or through extensions. It also offers portability for people who cannot spare time on installation of software wherever they go through its portable version. Google Apps on the other hand offer total independence of location and platform to user. However, its functionalities are limited and Google charges a significant monthly amount for its usage as well. On the basis of the criteria considered above, OpenOffice.org is recommended, hence, should be the preferred choice of Office productivity suite in any office.
Bonfield, Brett and Laura Quinn. Microsoft Office vs. OpenOffice.org. 2006. Web.
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