This week Microsoft will take its Office 2010 suite out of beta. If you’re considering upgrading Office with Office, we’d encourage you to consider an alternative: upgrading Office with Google Docs. If you choose this path, upgrade means what it’s supposed to mean: effortless, affordable, and delivering a remarkable increase in employee productivity. This is a refreshing alternative to the expensive and laborious upgrades to which IT professionals have become accustomed.

Google Docs has been providing rich real-time collaboration to millions of users for nearly four years. It lets employees edit and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in the browser from anywhere in the world. We recently made tremendous strides in improving Google Docs formatting, speed and functionality, and a growing number of companies are now using it as their primary productivity software.

Of course, you probably already own Office 2003 or 2007 (or maybe Office 2000?), and there’s no need to uninstall them. Fortunately, Google Docs also makes Office 2003 and 2007 better. For example, you can store any file – including Microsoft Office documents – in Google’s cloud and share them in their original format (protected, naturally by Google’s synchronous replication across datacenters). Plus, in the coming months, Google will enable real-time collaboration directly in Office 2003 and 2007, as you can see here.

Google Docs represents a real alternative for companies: a chance to get the collaboration features you need today and end the endless cycle of “upgrades”. For more information on the choices available to you, check out the summary below. But don’t take our word for it – you can try Google Docs and the rest of the Google Apps suite for free. The only thing you have to lose is a server or two.

For further information on Microsoft's offerings and requirements, please reference the Microsoft TechNet articles on SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010.