Don't see what you need in Apps?
Office is amazing. Office is also $500+ for all the stuff this guy has installed. Office has been around since '92 and is the second big thing out of MS besides Windows, so I think they've had a little time to add stuff and make it as good as it is. Google Apps is free. Give it a little while and you'll see thousands of added features. I use Office, but I also use Google Apps. I am trying to get more into Google than relying on a desktop-based office suite. I think it will be fun to try.
I have been using Open Office in an educational setting for the past year. Chances are, we own all of the MS Office licenses we ever will. Everyone is moving to Open Office. We give new students a USB drive with the OO installer on it as some of our students are on dial-up. One of the other posts favored in the cloud storage over USB or print. Um, the connection is down, where is your homework now?
My network connection is too unreliable so I can't use Google Docs. My wallet is too thin so I can't use MS Office. So I use Open Office. It does everything I need and almost everything I would like to do as well. I did download the Office 2010 Beta to try it out. Its interface is slicker, but some things are more difficult because of the 'ribbon'. I turned off the feedback (thumbs up/thumbs down) part of Office 2010 because I don't think they need to see all the apps I run. (Well, they would see I mostly use Thunderbird, Firefox, Picasa, & OpenOffice.)
There's a lot of hype around Google Docs, especially for education. (I work in a K-12 school division and we're hearing a lot of chatter about how great it would be to implement Google Docs.) I haven't tried Google docs in the past few weeks but last time I looked at it I found it to be very underwhelming. A lot of functionality was missing - I couldn't format a spreadsheet the way I wanted to. No database app. Meh! I guess it was the first "cloud based" app that I tried and there was an initial reaction of "It's pretty cool that I can do this with a free app in my web browser." But the nice warm glow of the "new shiny thing" didn't last long once I tried to use it.
Yes, Microsoft Office is a powerful and rich suite of "desktop productivity" applications; so much so that most of the user base uses a small fraction of the functionality in there. This is especially true of educational users, where you find documents full of manually tabbed and highlighted documents, spreadsheets used as databases, etc. Google Docs has just about all of the functionality that the average Microsoft Office user will ever need or discover already in it. Whether it needs the other 95% of the features in Word is debatable, but I'm sure Google's user base will tell Google about the most important 5% they're missing. Docs already has one killer feature Word (et al) has struggled with for their entire existence: live document collaboration. If you create a Google Doc (word processor, spreadsheet, whatever) and share it with other users, you can both edit the SAME DOCUMENT at the same time. If you're working close enough together, you can actually see the other users changes updated on your screen in (near) real time. Try it, it's pretty amazing. Anyone who has ever tried to use the change tracking and change merging features of Word knows that this is one of the surest paths to a crash followed by an unrecoverable documented known to Microsoft users. Plus, all that change tracking and merging is a pretty poor excuse for real document collaboration, even if it did work. I watch my daughter (8th grade) email school projects back and forth with her classmates and see them fall into the same sort of document merging hell that has plagued my professional life for going on 20 years now, and am glad Google has finally solved this problem, for school districts that are run smartly enough to take advantage of it. Yes, I realize some rural school districts may have limitations that preclude using Google Docs, fortunately that's not true for us, where the average high school draws students from a 3-mile radius. Rest assured that should my daughters school attempt to force us to pay Microsoft for the privilege of her education when she begins high school next year, we will flatly refuse. And that, my dear friends, is the number one reason why OpenOffice and/or Google Docs are the only acceptable "productivity solutions" for public schools: Nobody, and I do mean NOBODY, should have to pay Microsoft for the privilege of being educated by a school system they've already paid for with their taxes.
Open office Its free! It runs on various Operating systems Its free! It does everything that a student and most businesses will ever need. Its free! It can write MS files and your data is your data not floating out on a server waiting for a court order to be public data.
The hype is based on the fact that it is free and allows students to work on the same document at home or at school. They then can share it with their teacher so they don't have to print it out. No more "my printer wasn't working" or the student with the USB drive or floppy disk with the corrupted file that WAS their term paper. And for those students with out MS Office at home, their assignments can come to school in a format that is readable by the teacher not those darn MS Works formats. That being said, I don't think it is going to replace MS Office because of its limitations but for a simple document it is fine.