The recent Microsoft update on InfoPath forms has everyone scratching their heads. For those who haven't come across the article yet - Microsoft has declared they will not be shipping another version of InfoPath. 2013 is the end of the line for the user friendly forms builder!
This announcement is not surprising. When InfoPath 2013 was released without any changes or improvements, it was pretty obvious where this was headed. There has also been a strong push to have forms that are supported not just on the desktop, but on mobile devices as well. The landscape has drastically changed since the original release of InfoPath and this is one product that hasn't made the transition.
So what now?
The import thing is to not panic! Keep calm and SharePoint on :)
We are hearing that some sort of announcement is coming at SharePoint conference in March, which is little more than a month away. Even if nothing significant was to come out of the conference, Microsoft has pledged their support of the InfoPath client through 2023. This means you'll at least be able to maintain your existing forms for a long time. If you are in the middle of a project, continue on as you were. If you are planning a big forms project this year, I definitely recommend pressing the pause button for at least a month to see what turns up in the near future. I'm hopeful they won't leaving us hanging for too long! If you are desperate to press forward and can't afford to wait, then there are plenty of well-supported third party forms tools available. If you are a low budget shop, there are some great free alternatives available as well! (use at your own risk of course)
While putting together a list of forms options, I came across this list created on listly where users can vote on their favorite forms product. It includes both paid and free options. I find it to be pretty inclusive of the products I know well and you can always join and add your own suggestions! InfoPath Forms Alternatives
Microsoft has also published Options to create Office Forms in 2013. This list provides a couple options that aren't on Listy and you can consider it Microsoft's official answer to forms, for now.
As for a personal preference, I have tried to gear my choices towards the skill set available at the client I am working for. If its mostly business users, we would utilize InfoPath. If there were skilled developers on staff, I might suggest jQuery or custom forms. For my business user clients, I'm asking them to hold off where possible or rely on custom forms until there is a clear direction.
What it comes down to is that Microsoft has acknowledged the need for more flexible forms. Here's hoping they deliver!