In a ZDNet.com article, dated Sept. 17, 2012, the author writes, “With the addition of subscription-based pricing for Office 2013, Microsoft is aggressively pushing its Office customers to get out of the traditional software business and begin paying subscription fees.”

My guess is that because Microsoft so masterfully created a business world that’s almost entirely reliant on its Office software, many customers will simply shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh well, I guess that’s just the way things are,” and jump headfirst into the new subscription-based usage model.

But as reported in another ZDNet.com article, dated Feb. 18, 2013, a different author has written a compelling argument for breaking away from Microsoft’s grasp. His suggested alternative? Switching to a free office software suite called LibreOffice.

I’d never heard of LibreOffice until I read the ZDNet piece, but I’m aware of and have used other free services, such as Google Docs. However, I have yet to become a total freeware convert and sever ties with MS Office, which is likely due to nothing more than years of familiarity with its methods—years of familiarity that have become an irrational security blanket.

For small businesses in particular, I think it’s smart to at least explore the free office productivity software that’s available and find out for yourselves whether there’s a viable option for your business.

None of this is to say MS Office won’t continue to be the right choice for most businesses. Rather, I think it’s important to provide small businesses with as much information as possible in the hope that you’re better able to make informed decisions about the ways in which you’ll continue to succeed going forward.

What are your thoughts? Will you continue to be a MS Office customer despite the software’s new subscription service model? Or will you pursue another option?