Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Customer? More like Investor.

One of the costs that I had in mind when I bought my computer was how much it was going to cost to get Microsoft Office. I don’t know about all of you out there, but for me, Office is a must have. I have been using it since moving off the Commodore 64 and onto one of those PC clones. Word and later Power Point, Outlook, and Excel became the only programs that I really needed in school and work. As much as I hate feeling like I am being chained to Microsoft, whether through their OS or through their Office suite, I still have a hard time getting by if I don’t have at least Word or Outlook available.

When I bought my computer, I made a few mistakes that I regret. One of them was having Office Home and Student preinstalled on my system. In the past, Office had Word, Excel, Power Point and Outlook bundled together in the student/home/educational editions. Office 2007 replaced Outlook with OneNote. I thought that I could get along fine without Outlook and after about a month of trying out Google’s Calendar and my own iPod, I caved and bought a separate copy of Outlook.

The reality is that Office is preferred or is at least widely used in every school and work place I have ever been. The exception would be the candy store where computers were treated as if they were created by the devil. I’m familiar with it and in fact, for the most part, I like the capabilities those programs provide? Are there better programs on the market? Undoubtedly but what good are they if, ultimately, my ability to communicate and collaborate is hampered by compatibility issues? I suppose that’s where the cost-savings come in. Plus, considering how much I actually use and will use these programs (except for OneNote), I guess $250 wasn’t too bad of a price.


QuakerJono said...

I hear where you're coming from. Compatibility-wise for business settings, Office is still the big dog. But for home applications, have you looked into OpenOffice. It's freeware and pretty much as robust as Office. Plus, its GUI is eerily familiar to Office, so the application-switch shock isn't as bad as with some other productivity suites (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, LOTUS!). It doesn't have an Outlook component, but if you download Thunderbird (a better application anyway) you can just blow that $250 on hats and bon-bons.

John Provis said...

I agree almost completely - Thunderbird is absolutely a better piece of software than the dog's breakfast that is Outlook. It's less feature-packed, but stores all your stuff in far more sensible formats, and doesn't crash anywhere near as often. (Unfortunately, our entire work email system has just been migrated to a 'new' Outlook-based system, which I'm not a fan of). And unless you want to do complex VBA programming or high-end Excel or PowerPoint stuff (Excel Solver in particular), OpenOffice will do basically all of what you need. And yes, they're both free, which is enough for me to overlook a whole world of faults (which are mainly minor compatibility glitches) when compared to an expensive alternative..!