Web2.0 has brought us free office suites webapps (short for web-applications, which run inside your internet browser window). This new free webware (software run on the web not on your computer) have the potential to threaten the giant MS Office Suite as more and more switch to using the free services online rather than shelling out the hundreds of dollars to purchase the new commercial software. This is especially relevant in the education sector. The two online office suites I use for myself and my students are:
1. Googledocs formerly Writely until Google bought them out. It’s a suite that has a free replace for Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint (update and now Forms!). Googledocs has made me a more productive teacher, I love and swear by it I use it everyday to write and share my lesson planning from home and school, it doesn't matter what computer I am on I always have access. Googledocs is free and requires no downloads, you just need to register for a Google account. Only problem is, they do not support apple’s default internet browser Safri. One way to get around this is by installing Firefox onto your mac.
Must see for a great 2 min explanation
2. Zoho Office Suite is another great alternative, see this Wikipedia link for a great explanation. It has a much bigger suite with everything that Google Docs has and then some. I decided to use Zoho for my class because I didn’t want to have to worry about the mac compatibility and downloading Firefox on all the laptop carts.
3. In fear of getting bumped out and left behind, Microsoft recently released Microsoft Office Live Workspace. Although I still prefer Google Docs, one nice feature of MS Live Workspaces, is that you can keep all your advanced word processing features like track changes which comes in handy with peer edits.
Read Zoho Suite vs Google Docs to see a great comparison between the two.