Let’s face it, technology develops fast and there are some people who just don’t keep up with the flow. When I get to work, I dread looking in my inbox and seeing MS Office files. Why? Because it reminds me of the days when we had to take order forms and reports via faxes and spend hours retyping them into our system database. It was cumbersome, laborious and annoying as hell.
Now, I learned how to use a word processor utilizing Microsoft Word and I recall cheering after I created my first spreadsheet, but that was in my school days. Admit it–the technology was fresh, new and resourceful. Now I have to struggle with errors, cumbersome and overbearing “capabilities” which all come turned “on” by default. I wish there was a “turn this damn feature off forever” button somewhere, but I can’t find it.
The fact is Microsoft’s proprietary file formats for Office aren’t likely to stand the test of time. Compatibility problems between 2007 and 2010 are widely experienced with a vengeance; spaces being dropped, issues between .doc and .docx files and ‘standard’ file formats acting in anything but a standard way. Microsoft wants to control the standard file format used by the world, but not spend the coin to ensure proper compatibility with previous versions.
Here’s a thought: why the hell should I spend $150-$279 for MSOffice when I can get everything they offer (and more) from current open source systems which I can use for FREE? I shouldn’t, and neither should you. So let me show you some alternatives you can use, right now.
My absolute favorite program to use is the spitting image of MS Office, but without the compatibility issues. Anything you need in a productivity suite is now at your fingertips, 100% free. With over 100 million downloads and millions of programmers donating their innovative knowledge to the database, this is a suite to check out. It’s easy to use and you’ll quickly grasp the familiar Word-like functions, even if you’re migrating over as a low-tech user. Support is also impressive from the extensive community online. OpenOffice has transferred to the Apache Software Foundation and will soon be known as Apache Open Office (version 3.4 received over 4 million downloads its first month). This software works on both Windows and Mac OS X platforms.
Breaking off from its parent, OpenOffice, LibreOffice is quickly rising to the top of the charts in performance. This is greatly due to the involvement of many original programmers from OpenOffice switching platforms. LO has continued with OpenOffice’s numbering on their versions, now at 3.3, which includes bonuses unique to this platform. Microsoft Works and Lotus Word Pro import filters, as well as SVG image and WordPerfect import features. It is available for both Windows and Mac OS X platforms.
If you use Gmail and have missed the Documents tab at the top of your screen, you’ve been missing the best treat available online. Google Docs is a cloud-based system. What does that mean to you? It means it doesn’t matter what computer you work from, if you have access to the internet, you have access to your files. Not only does Google Docs provide a suite of programs that mimic MS Office, they have an added feature called ‘share.’ I use this on international projects I work on, allowing me to share Google Docs with other users—and we can write and edit the same files, even at the same time!
Now, there’s a drawback with a cloud-based system. That’s right—if you don’t have access to the internet, you don’t have access to your files. Not anymore. Google has created a brilliant new Gmail Offline app that you can pick up through the Chrome Web Store (also FREE). You can access your files while offline and when you are connected to the internet again, your files—with all the changes you’ve made—will update to the cloud.
So there you go! My reasons why you should dump Microsoft Office and three amazing alternatives, to keep you productive and to save you a good chunk of change.
Have you adopted an alternative to the pricey Microsoft Office yet? Let me know in the comments below or via Twitter.
Tagg writes for CableTV.com. He typically writes about technology and entertainment. When he’s not writing or tinkering on the latest gadget, he’s an avid guitar player. You can follow him on Twitter @CableTV.