According to a Forrester Research report, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Microsoft Word Love Story,” many companies use Microsoft Word because it is familiar, not because it is the best software for their needs.

“Because Word has become so entrenched in the enterprise in the last 25 years, organizations cannot easily move off of it,” she wrote. “So despite the noise made by the new Web-based authoring tools — most of which are free for a limited number of users — they have failed thus far to realize enterprise adoption.”

The report mainly discusses the advantages of web-based office suites like Google Docs, Zoho, and others. Microsoft is even developing its own online office suite, Office Live Workspace, to compete.

The same holds true for lawyers, many of whom use Word not out of necessity, or because it gets the job done most efficiently, but because it is familiar. Most lawyers would benefit from switching to free alternatives like OpenOffice.org, but many lawyers would also benefit from trying web-based office products for some tasks.

Google Docs, for example, offers easy collaboration, so that two or more authors can be working with the same document at the same time. For drafting a stipulation of facts or a settlement agreement, using such a collaborative, web-based editor can save a ton of time and effort.

Report: Companies use Word out of habit, not necessity | PC World (via Slashdot)