Steve Dinneen
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Google Docs
Google is doing its best to convince businesses that Microsoft Office is an unnecessary expense in a cloud-based world. Its Google Docs service is free and integrates seamlessly with its email and calendar products. While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Office, it is a decent service that is constantly improving. For basic operations it is a more than adequate alternative to Microsoft.

Open Office
Apache’s free office product is a powerful rival to Microsoft. It offers comparable text, spreadsheet and presentation services for none of the expenditure. It can also handle some of the more specialist operations that has been Microsoft’s forte, including complex indexes and footnotes. It hasn’t got the prettiest interface – but then neither does Office. If it’s function over form you’re looking for, Open Office has it in spades.

Text Wrangler
This Mac word processing program won’t win any prizes for pushing the boundaries of technology. However, it does what it sets out to as well as anyone. The interface is clean and easy to navigate and, as there isn’t much going on behind the scenes, it’s very stable. If you need advanced features, look elsewhere but for the bare bones (which, appropriately, is the name of the developer), this will do you just fine.

Zoho is a subscription-based service that costs from $3 a month (rising fairly quickly as you add on extras like email or group chat). It comes with the added layer of customer support that you’d expect from a subscription service but at a fraction of the price of Office. It comes with enough advanced tools to mean, once you make the leap from Office, you might never look back.