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Network World - No two businesses are exactly alike. Therefore, not all companies will be equally effective with the same software products.
Whether it's to fit business needs more closely or just to save some money, businesses can always turn to alternatives to traditional enterprise software products. Just because a software program fit the bill in the past doesn't mean it's the best option for today.
Here are some incumbent enterprise software products that some businesses don't need anymore, and the alternatives that may better fit their needs.
Not even Microsoft thinks all businesses need to buy its Office software suite anymore, judging by the company's decision to give its cloud-based Office 365 suite a much more favorable price and update schedule.
That's because Microsoft was forced to respond to the bevy of cloud-based offerings that had been luring businesses away from Office in the past few years. Google Apps is one of the most well-known alternatives, offering browser-based word processing, spreadsheet and slideshow presentation apps whose features and ease-of-use are comparable to Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
At a $5 per-user-per-month subscription rate (which can be enhanced to add e-discovery features and tighter security for $10/user/month), Google Apps for Business could be an inexpensive alternative to Office. Its main selling points are the small price tag, as well as easy collaboration.
Zoho Docs, with its focus on collaboration, offers a similar experience to Google Apps, but with up to 1GB of free online storage to go with access to its workplace apps.
Several free open source alternatives are also available. Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice, both of which use the same source code, are two free, open source options that feature the same Office-like productivity apps. LibreOffice was spun off from the Apache OpenOffice project after Oracle's acquisition of Sun in 2010. Since then, LibreOffice has differentiated itself by incorporating new features, most notably PDF import and a Wiki publisher.
Mac shops, meanwhile, may be more suited to NeoOffice. Designed with almost identical features to LibreOffice, NeoOffice is designed to integrate with the Max OS X interface and to support higher-resolution Retina displays.
GIMP, a free alternative that features many of the tools in Photoshop, is one of the most well-known open source Adobe alternatives out there. While other Photoshop emulators are available, including Seashore and the browser-based Pixlr, none match the broad toolset or manipulation/animation capabilities of GIMP.
Alternatives to other Abobe programs are available as well. Formulate Pro is a great alternative to Acrobat alternative, especially for those who don't edit PDF documents frequently enough to warrant an investment in Acrobat. Formulate Pro allows users to open, edit, save and print PDF documents, which could come in handy when dealing with contracts, customers' documents or during tax season.