Microsoft will tell you that the hundreds of dollars you pay for its Office suite is money well spent. That may be true, if your company makes heavy use of advanced Office macro scripts, or perhaps some of the most advanced features in Excel and PowerPoint. Most smaller businesses, however, don't use any of these features today, and most of them probably never will.
That's why free or low-cost alternatives to Office can save smaller companies a significant amount of money. One of the best-known Office alternatives, OpenOffice.org has just released an update to its open-source business productivity package that costs nothing to try and takes very little time to set up on any Windows or Linux desktop system. And it just might convince you to quit paying hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, on Microsoft Office "upgrades" that provide little or no value to most small-business users -- although the licensing fees from these upgrades certainly help Microsoft to maintain the huge profit margins it has long enjoyed on its Office suite.
OpenOffice.org version 2.4 is available for free download at the product's community-maintained Web site, where you can also find information about paid service and support options. Or, if you're looking for an Office alternative with additional enterprise-ready features, including administrative tools, try Sun Microsystems' StarOffice, which you can download here to evaluate and purchase.