Although there are fantastic free alternatives to Microsoft's popular productivity suite, few if any competing products match its quality - and Microsoft knows it. The company expects to sell its latest version of Office at the quickest rate in the software's history.

Office 2010 has been tested by 7.5 million users, or three times more than Office 2007. That interest leads Redmond to believe adoption will be quick, and with many people upgrading to Windows 7, they are more likely to spring for the latest version of Office too. Even more significant is the gradual return to business spending, as around 60% of Office sales stem from multiyear enterprise contracts.

Another factor is the large number of users who skipped the upgrade to Office 2007. More than half of Office customers currently use the 2003 build, which makes them more likely to take the plunge. Office 2010 brings several desirable features, such as a 64-bit version and expanded Web-based features that better position the suite against Google Apps.

Do you plan to purchase Office 2010? I've been using it for a few days now and apart from the added functionality, Word and other applications seem much more responsive. A hundred fifty bucks more responsive? I don't know. You be the judge.