For many years, when you bought a computer, you also had to think about the cost of the other software that you were going to need to actually make the computer useful. The top category of software that was necessary (other than games, of course) was Office Productivity Software. And, that meant MICROSOFT OFFICE!
This software was pretty pricey and a cause for many an individual to attempt to pirate the software in one way or another. Of course, for anyone with ethics, this was not an option. But, it made a huge increase in the otherwise bargain you sniffed out on the net or the local computer store.
Those days are now over. Really.
If you have not yet tried OpenOffice, it is time. This *FREE* Office Productivity Suite is finally ready for prime time. The word processor (“Microsoft Word” replacement) is just fine and has nearly all of the features in word that anyone actually uses. The Powerpoint equivalent is quite usable as well. So, what does that leave … Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access (assuming you use the “Pro” version).
Short of the accountant, who really uses Excel for what it is made for? Who sets up complex spreadsheets? In my environment of over 100 computers, there are probably 2 people who use Excel for anything other than a formatting tool.
Access … I love Access … I write programs in Access … I use it to do stuff on SQL servers. I don’t think there is anyone else in our organization who even knows how to start up the program.
OK … so out of 100 computer users, we have maybe 3 people who need Microsoft Office. Everyone else can use the free and usable Open Office! By the way, it reads and writes Microsoft file formats, so you can still read those files that others send to you.
So … what are you waiting for? Want to try it out? Go to www.openoffice.org and download the software. By the way, you need to be careful because there are a few sites out there that want you to pay for this software that you can download for free. The link I provided takes you to the “real” place.
Is this the only option? Well, surprisingly, no. As it turns out, Google is also providing some of this type of software via “Google Apps”. It’s a little more “clunky” than the open office suite, but it is available anywhere you go. You don’t have to copy anything on your computer and you can store the files out on the net. It is cool. If you haven’t tried it, you should. And, while you are at it, you can check out Gmail which allows you to use your own Domain Name just as if the email server was setting in your building. That means that all these people who now have HotMail accounts can now have their own domain name instead.
About a year ago, I purchased a domain name that was a variant of my last name and set up a Google Apps “post office”. Then I was able to set up my family and anyone else who wanted an email address with my last name embedded with a permanent email address. You can set up a free (they call it “Standard”) Google Apps account and have 50 email addresses attached to it. And … for non-profit organizations (churches), you can have more accounts than that. If you want to check this option out, go to www.google.com/apps.
These options are both real and usable. I don’t know about you, but I think that anyone who is thinking about spending hundreds of dollars per copy for Microsoft Office is just plain crazy!
Kind of reminds you about how Microsoft ruined Netscapes’ business doesn’t it!
– The Church Tech