There are plenty of alternatives for Microsoft Office such as Polaris Office, Google’s own Quick Office, Google Docs, and ThinkFree office. All of these alternatives are cloud based except for Polaris. Both Quick Office and Google Docs integrate into Google Drive and ThinkFree has its own cloud.
And now, Apple is presenting its own iWork for free (earlier it was chargeable at #79 for iOS). The iWord suite contains document processer, spreadsheets and more. It was being offered only for Apple OS customers and since it too was iCloud based, the suite had the ability to sync files across Apple devices. Though MS Office, i.e., Office Automation Software has been a specialty of Microsoft, Apple has suddenly decided to make its suite, iWork, free for all – including people who use Windows.
The documents are created, managed, and stored in iCloud so there are no issues with platform. The sudden dropping of all costs related to using iWork hints that it wants to pull away customers from Microsoft who use MS Office on their laptops and portable devices, including smartphone.
To get to the iWork, users will have to register with the iCloud, an Apple offering. After registration, it is fairly easy to use iWork free, just as one would be able to use Microsoft Office Online or Google Docs. Other than simply creating and editing documents, the iWork also allows for sharing and collaboration on files created by its document processor and spreadsheets. It also lets multiple users to work on the same document at the same time. The real time collaboration feature is also present in Office Online (via Office 365 or SkyDrive) and in Google Docs. Quick Office and ThinkFree fail to deliver real time collaboration but the latter is closest best alternative to Microsoft Office in my opinion unless you have to collaborate.
It remains to be seen if iWork can really attract users, as it is not much of a popular name. It may prevent some users from switching to Microsoft Office for iOS. People using alternatives of MS Office may want to check it out while those using Microsoft Office Suite on their computers may not even want to try it out as Microsoft Office stands to be a synonym of Office Automation.