Free Office Software!

I live in this world without Microsoft Office. It has been uninstalled from my computer here at the office and from both computers at home.

I replaced MS Office with a free office suite named OpenOffice.org. Here’s the why and the how:

1. Over the years, Microsoft products have caused me frustration, grief, red-eyed rage, and other negative emotional states that I want less of in this life…

2. MS Office has grown into the Death Star of software applications. It’s as big as a planet, and it contains a million features I’ll never know or care about because I actually use only about five or six on a regular basis….

3. Microsoft software is expensive. And after you get robbed at the point of sale, you have to work through a sometimes-maddening ‘product activation and registration’ process. (And registering software with Microsoft always gives me a creepy feeling that I’ve been electronically tagged for life.)

4. As its legions of haters, detractors, and critics have been saying for decades, I’m beginning to think it’s possible that Microsoft might be EVIL. (And apparently the US Supreme Court, the US Department of Justice, and the European Union would at least agree that Microsoft recently deserved a good dose of swift and terrible justice.)

5. OpenOffice.org is free. Anyone can download it from any computer with internet access. It can be installed and activated in about 3-clicks (no encrypted activation code required), and if you choose not to register the product, YOU DON’T HAVE TO!

6. The latest version of OpenOffice.org (OO.o) is, in my experience, every bit as good as MS Office, and in some ways better. And so far I have not had any serious cross-compatibility issues between it and MS Office files and vice-versa.

7. If you buy a new computer, replace an existing one, or have to re-install all your software due to a hardware failure, re-installing OO.o is a snap. Just download and install and done. Compare that to a reinstallation of MS Office, which means finding the CDs, the ‘activation key code’, and, if you are unlucky, having to CALL Microsoft because your existing activation code will not work on a new or second installation…

8. Like the software itself, future updates, revisions, and new versions of OpenOffice.org will always be free. And if you choose to do so, registering your installation with OpenOffice.org is quick and easy. (As opposed to the registration experience with Microsoft, which leaves me feeling exhausted and violated.)

OpenOffice.org is part of the fast-spreading ‘Open Source’ movement that is giving Microsoft fits. Many industry watchers compare the growing popularity of open source software to a tsunami headed right for Microsoft headquarters. Corporations, organizations, regional, state and local governments, and individuals around the world are adopting open source software for two reasons: it’s free, and it works well. So far I can vouch for the ‘works well’ part…

I don’t recommend everyone ceremoniously exorcise Microsoft Office from your computers today and commit to OpenOffice, but consider giving it a try. You can run OpenOffice on the same computer as MS Office and test-drive it as long as you like. And the next time MS Office drives you nuts, or the next time a child asks for a few hundred dollars to buy MS Office, know that there is an attractive alternative….

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NOTE TO MICROSOFT LAWYERS: I in no way meant to imply that your company is a thieving, evil Death Star…

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  See this recent article in PCWorld about IBM & OpenOffice.org