5 top office suites reviewed

New editions offer users improved tools and some cross-platform compatibility

Today's office suites are not that different from communication or collaboration suites. The only major difference is the latter’s ability to perform a higher level of analysis at a higher level of reporting. Office suites share several characteristics with communication and collaboration tools and would only benefit from a larger degree of collaboration.

An office suite traditionally includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database and e-mail client. For the purposes of this review, we’ll be spending a little more time on the overall interaction each independent program has with one another and, using our benchmark tool, the dreaded Microsoft Office file extension.

Like it or not, Microsoft still owns the standard when it comes to office suites. Most offices in and out of federal, state and local government use Office almost exclusively. Most people also have one version or another of Microsoft’s suites installed on a computer, making the need for other suites to play nice with Microsoft a paramount portion of this roundup. Therefore, we’ll be handing out extra points for those programs that interoperate with Microsoft office suites, particularly if they can edit and save to Microsoft file extensions.

Operating systems are also no exception. For the purposes of this review, we want office suites to be operating system-independent. For many years, Microsoft operating systems were the standard, but now, you need to at least offer a Mac or Linux flavor if you want to be in the race.

NEXT: Office 2010 Professional Edition

Office 2010 Professional Edition

Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Edition

Microsoft has made Herculean strides in reinventing the office suite into a collaboration platform. Microsoft Office Professional maintains an intuitive user interface that makes it easy to use basic and common features, and to learn new tricks and capabilities. The new advancements in 2010 are a cloud capability with which you can view and edit Microsoft apps via your browser, for no extra charge, and a push toward collaboration by providing a real-time post-and-share feature with SharePoint 2010.

Pros: Cloud computing apps, real-time collaboration with SharePoint 2010, video editing.

Cons: No upgrade capabilities, Excel crashes with desktop Bluetooth add-ins, data analytics package not default.

Features: A+
Performance: A
Ease of Use: A-
Value: C
Price: $500

Read the full review: Microsoft Office 2010 brings collaboration into the suite

NEXT: WordPerfect X5 Standard Edition

WordPerfect X5 Standard Edition

WordPerfect X5 Standard Edition

Reviewers ChoiceCorel’s WordPerfect Office suite is so easy to use and so robust that I wish Corel could break Microsoft’s hold on the enterprise so that we could use it at work more often. Fortunately, Corel's WordPerfect Office Professional suite is fully compatible with major file types and plays well with Microsoft, in particular, allowing me to use it at home or at work with minimal interference to my day-to-day work.

Pros: Easy to use, robust capabilities, strong compatibility.

Cons: No relevant weaknesses.

Features: A+
Performance: A
Ease of Use: A-
Value: A
Price: $150 (with ongoing promotion) $250 normal price

Read the full review: WordPerfect X5 makes everything easy for the user

NEXT: EasyOffice Premium

EasyOffice Premium

EasyOffice Premium

EasyOffice Premium features all the relevant components of a decent productivity suite at a fraction of the cost of Microsoft Office. The only catch is that you have to be willing to give up the luxury of a modern interface, because EasyOffice is essentially a mirror image of Microsoft Office 2003. But for $49, it’s an inexpensive alternative to the real thing.

Pros: Inexpensive.

Cons: Outdated, compatibility issues outside of Microsoft OS, unreliable features.

Features: C
Performance: C
Ease of Use: B
Value: B
Price: $49

Read the full review: EasyOffice gives you the basics, but not much more

NEXT: OpenOffice 3.2

OpenOffice 3.2

OpenOffice 3.2

Reviewers ChoiceA quick, free download of OpenOffice will give you a clean and ridiculously easy-to-use set of tools, including a text editor (Linux speak for word processor), spreadsheet, presentation, database, drawing program and an advanced programming tool called Formula. Each one of these tools has a clean and intuitive set of features layered within a modern interface that gives Corel or Microsoft a run for the money. And it’s the friendliest program in the roundup from the perspective of compatibility.

Pros: Free, easy to use, strong capabilities.

Cons: No relevant flaws.

Features: A
Performance: A
Ease of Use: A
Value: A+
Price: Free

Read the full review: OpenOffice has all the tools, at the right price

NEXT: Lotus Notes 8.5

Lotus Notes 8.5

Lotus Notes 8.5

It’s not really an office suite, but the new features and clean interface of Lotus 8.5 merits some recognition. Older versions of Lotus used to be enigmatic and hard to use, let alone understand. But new capabilities such as the ability to right-click documents in any views in order to see a more concise menu of options have made the software a lot more accessible. Now you can also right-click documents to mark them as read or unread, similar to what you see in Outlook with e-mails.

Pros: Easy-to-use interface, interoperability with OpenOffice.

Cons: Not really a full office suite.

Features: B+
Performance: A
Ease of Use: A
Value: B-
Price: $125 at most online stores

Read the full review: Lotus Notes improves with office-suite capabilities

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Reader Comments

Thu, Nov 18, 2010

the federal deficit could be wiped out in three years time if they would all just use a linux distro, take your pick & openoffice. the DoD especially helped give away the "farm" and gave microsoft a defacto monopoly -- and really asks for nothing in return. ever wonder why bill gates is a very rich man. just review the history going back to the IBM days. he took IBM's DOS and tweaked it or really just repackaged it as MSDOS, then he just either stole or bought up everyone else's intellectual property as Uncle Sam was buying all his products. Federal and contractor workers both were indoctrinated into the microsoft product line so much so, that even apple couldn't penetrate the monopoly. as a taxpayer and as techie, i think it's criminal to keep throwing away valuable taxpayer resources and not switch to linux and openoffice. let's not continue to use the mantra -- "our workforce is way too stupid to use linux and openoffice". that's not america -- we created and developed most all of this technology. furthermore, are we as a nation too stupid to use even the metric system?? zen in on that one... that was something we were supposed to transition to in the 70's, almost 40 years ago... the rest of the industrialized world uses the metric system... and where are we... are we a nation of imbeciles?

Fri, Nov 12, 2010 briank honolulu

In this day and age, with respect to an "office suite", I'm always curious as to the stand-alone vs. internet-integrated functionality. I haven't read the reviews yet, but I will look for it. To me, it's important. For my personal use, for "office suite"-type tasks, I often disconnect from the internet to lengthen battery life. At home, I use OpenOffice v.3, and because I'm in IT, I have a copy of Microsoft Office 2007 Student version, which I use only to check round-trips back-n-forth between Calc and Excel. For my all-around use, the "office suite"s, except for the spreadsheet apps, are of minor importance. Most my writing is in a text editor, Komodo Edit, including most my every day documentation, and multi-file with links. At home, I enjoy the pleasure of FrameMaker 8. So for printing to paper, the "office suite"s most often fall out as not good enough, or too much typist-oriented. My two cents. Brian PS. I hope Quattro Pro is still exemplary. Even in the days of XP and Office 2000, I loved Quattro Pro. Used it since v.1. Especially for PerfectScript syntaz and the ability to print multiple ranges on one page without scripting. Like in Lotus 123 for DOS.

Wed, Nov 10, 2010

If you don't like Lotus Notes, you don't know what you are talking about or you work for you-know-who. It's all about collaboration and workflow - not just email and calendar like your expensive, awful security and ribbon alternative. Why don't you tell the military, the security service, the NE US and Europe how lousy it is.

Mon, Nov 8, 2010

You should be ashamed of yourself for even talking about Lotus Notes, it is one of the worst application ever created!

Thu, Nov 4, 2010 Didos27

What about SSuite Office? They have a lot of good office software available for free.

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