Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Microsoft Office – Give it the Boot!

Microsoft PowerPoint is a component of Microsoft Office. It is used for presentations and slideshows. Microsoft Office itself is a complete suite of applications similar to Lotus 123 for spreadsheets, and WordPerfect for word processing. The problem with Microsoft Office and other proprietary data formats is compatibility – or the lack thereof. The computer industry has very few standards that benefit the consumer. There are thousands of standards for the computer workings and components to make a computer but diddly- squat for the end user. Microsoft would like to have their Office product line be the standard, Corel would like WordPerfect and so on and so on. In the bustle and haste leaves you and I scratching our heads to keep up. Which package do we purchase with our hard earned dollars? What if we don’t like it, or if it doesn’t work for our purposes? Can I return it? Guess What – no. Although to be fair, that is not a blanket statement. Most retailers will put up a fuss for software returns, and will not accept them. But not all of them will refuse. The issue is what’s to stop us from buying it, installing it, copying it and registering it – only to return it and get our money back – while still having a fully functioning copy at homer? Imagine the next person to purchase your returned item – when they try to register it and it fails the registration. Of course You can call software support, but would still be an annoyance.

As with anything successful, there is always something new to come along and copy it, or try to improve upon it. The case being alternatives to Microsoft Office, well to Microsoft – but that’s another story – Two relatively new players in the game are Google Docs and Spreadsheets, and Google’s solution offers a word processor, and a spreadsheet solution. Both are completely free! Open Office has slightly more applications in their suite, including a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a slideshow and presentation program and a drawing utility. Google’s offering doesn’t require any downloads or installation of software, while Open Office does. Once again though, it’s free.

If you absolutely must have Microsoft Office applications, you may download the free viewers for Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Access. If you need to edit them, then use the free solutions from Google and OpenOffice.