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Everything you need to know about office software

When it comes to software office suites, developers are offering the flexibility to mirror a more versatile business landscape. Software is no longer an either/or proposition. Think desktop-based software versus the cloud. Or paying licensing fees versus a subscription. Or the increasing range of devices that need to access docs and presentations. Here’s what you need to know.

Key features

Office suites provide applications including word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets. Businesses are spoilt for choice. While Microsoft had the market cornered in the early days out of default, providers such as Google, Lenovo, Apple, LibreOffice, and others are muscling in. And while most vendors provide the compatibility to convert their documents to Microsoft, applications are evolving with the times by expanding their range of programs.

Alongside extras like OneNote or Calendars, providers are offering business calls, website creation, storage options and many more tools. And that includes compatibility across a selection of platforms and devices. Businesses are no longer bound to one vendor and can use Google Docs off-site, open up a Word document on the desktop back in the office or dazzle with a Prezi in a meeting.

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Desktop versus the cloud

While Microsoft’s upcoming Office 2019 suite will still cater for those not ready to make the jump to the cloud, many businesses have already migrated online. But what they gain in convenience is often lost in the editing power of the desktop application.

The benefits of the cloud are obvious. The ability for multiple people to work on the same document in real-time – and access it from multiple sites and devices – condemns the problem of version control to the past. But there is at least one major drawback. Conducting business in the cloud relies on everybody being connected to the internet at all times.

It is important to be aware of the pros and cons of your chosen office suite. To boost business productivity, IT managers really need to weigh convenience against functionality.

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Technology comes down functionality, and adopting it is often based on what we are used to or where we feel secure storing our documents. After all, printing out word documents for safe storage is still common practice. Moreover, Microsoft continues to have an almost unassailable advantage simply because its features are rusted into our psyches of how things are done in the office.

Getting your head around a new environment takes an open mind and a time commitment. For comparison, it’s as easy as signing up for a free trial or setting up some of the free web-based options such as Google Docs or the open-source LibreOffice. There really is a world of possibilities.

Then there are payment options. It makes little use to pay the full price for a suite when many of its applications lay dormant. That is why many businesses mix and match. In addition to the free offerings, there are the upfront licences that give you access into perpetuity, or subscription-based services that allow you to add users as needed.

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