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Tough love

Sunday 18 June 2006 - Filed under Default

Microsoft Word. Nearly everyone knows how to use it but the vast majority of us never paid for it or perhaps we paid for one copy and since then have installed it on a small island nation’s worth of computers. This was possible because it was technically difficult to enforce software licenses. Oh no it didn’t! Yup it did. The internet went and changed all that.

Later versions(2003 or XP) have this pesky “improvement” that makes it much more difficult for Joe Retail to pirate the software. Microsoft products now require activation, a process that’s quickly gaining popularity because it virtually guarantees that people pay for the software they use.

Switch to Open Office now and you’ll be thanking yourself later. That goes double for those of you who have kids. Why do I say this? Four reasons. You’ll save money now. You’ll save money later. You’ll demand innovation. Finally, You’ll help drive improvements to an already capable replacement.

The four reasons. You’ll save money now. This follows directly from free sofware. You don’t have to pay for it, but it gets the job done all the same. Voila, you’ve saved money now.

You’ll save money later…if you’re no longer locked in to MS Word, you’ll start locking in to not having to pay. That means for the rest of your life and for all of your children’s lives, they won’t have to pay for office productivity software. This is worth on average $800-$2400 for you and $1600-$4800 to them.

You’ll demand innovation. As if Microsoft didn’t have enough pressure…I’m sure they can handle it. By not selecting to purchase a product that hasn’t improved significantly since the last millenium, you’ll make vendors like MS work harder to win your business. Better software will then be available and you might even choose then to purchase it.

You’ll help to drive improvements to an already capable replacement. Open Office can already do 95% of what Word and Excel can do and lots of people are using it. The number one thing the project needs are more users contributing more feedback on what they’d like improved. If you join in that group, we will all benefit from your suggestions. If you’re a programmer or documenter, we may even benefit directly from the improvements you make to the code or the help files.

So many of us are stuck with Microsoft products not because the .doc format is so popular or that we don’t know how to open .sxw files, it’s because we generally hate to learn and love to do things we already know how to do. In fact, we’ll pay from here to eternity just to have our hard-won skills remain useful.

Open Office has been evolving over the past 10 years into a useable program. In 30 minutes or a couple of documents, I’m quite confident that you’ll enjoy using it(you can use OO Calc) to keep track of the $200-$400 you save every time you decide to upgrade to a new computer.

2006-06-18  »  David Sterry