There’s a reason people abbreviate Microsoft to M$—it’s incredibly expensive.
But it gets bought out of habit, because it’s something most computer users have been using for over a decade, and surely the most popular product must be the best, right?
Something that has long annoyed me about the computer industry is the way the stack the deck when it comes to needing the newest thing.
Case in point: the latest version of Office comes out. You head down to the store to buy it, because they have this new fancy “x” on the end of the file extensions and you want to make sure your files will play nicely with most other people.
Whoops, your old operating system won’t work with it. And your computer is too old to run the newest version of Windows, so why not just buy a new computer?
It’s got more processing power than the average simian brain, produces more colours than were previously known to science, and runs faster than a cheetah on heat*.
Or just put this process in reverse—a new computer, with a new OS, needs a new version of Office.
And why can your old computer NOT run something as simple as a word processing program? Simple: they bloat it.
They stick in fancier looking buttons, more help files, extra layers of stuff you’ll never even know about, and the only reason for doing so is to sell you a newer version of their product.
But if they didn’t, the old system would probably last you for years doing just what you need; Internet access, word processing, and email.
Enter OpenOffice (and it’s fork, LibreOffice). It’s an Office suite with everything you need; word processing, spreadsheets, presentations—and it’s free. It’s maintained by a community of skilled volunteers who are dedicated to seeing computing be an open experience, not one based on finance and money making for a few huge companies.
Best of all, it’s files are compatible with Office anyway. And it will open Office files, so you don’t need to recreate anything you already have. It doesn’t need massive amounts of processing power because it’s built to perform a function, rather than sell units.
Increasingly my client’s of mine are sending me files that have been made using OpenOffice, so the uptake is good.
But if you’ve not tried it out already, I highly recommend you do. It’s an example of what online communities can achieve. It’s also very, very awesome.
* I have no idea if Cheetah’s run faster when on heat. Or indeed, if they do experience “heat” like domestic cats. Feel free to let me know!