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I Do Not Accept the Terms of This EULA

February 16th, 2013
So, you buy Office 2013—except now the purchase has changed. Instead of paying, say, $125 for a Home & Student version, which you can use for as many years as you like, you will pay a subscription for Office 2013, $100 a year. So, if you use it for just three years (I have been using my Office 2008 for 5 years now), you would pay $300. Deal, right? It gets better. With Office 2010, you can transfer the software to a new computer. Your old computer gets too slow, so you buy a new one. Just delete Office from your old PC, reinstall it on the new one, and you get more years of use. Not so with Microsoft's new setup. Here, the suite is tied to a single machine. You get a new computer, you pay all over again. Even if your old computer is stolen or breaks down. I know some people—not many, but some—who still use Office 2003. They may have paid $125 or $150 ten years ago, and still have a usable app. Microsoft's new arrangement means that in order to do the same thing, they have to shell out $1000. Sure, you (presumably) get the upgrades over time, but people still using 2003 obviously don't need them. And yes, you can still get the non-subscription apps—but Microsoft is clearly signaling a sea change here; you can expect the future to be by subscription. They try to sweeten the deal, like with 60 free Skype minutes (Microsoft bought up Skype, making changes I hate, like the “home” screen you are unable to escape), and 20GB of SkyDrive space. A lot of people feel compelled to get Microsoft's office suite. Because it's what everyone uses. Because they believe that only Microsoft's product can create or open Microsoft files. Because they don't know that any alternatives even exist. Well, they do. There are cheap and free alternatives. If you use a Mac, Apple sells their suite for $20 an app (Microsoft sells theirs at $110 a pop as standalones), or the whole suite for $60, no subscription. Outlook sells for $110 also, while Apple's Mail is free. But even better are the freebies. You could use Open Office (if you feel like you want to use an Office 2003 clone), or even better, just use GMail. It will open and save MS Word docs, so there's no problem with compatibility. Create Just create a free GMail account and get 10GB of storage (my school account gives me 25GB). Get Google Drive and have synced folders on your computers. Go into your account and click on the “Drive” link at the top, and you see all the files that are saved in that folder, from any computer you choose. You also get an Office Suite, not as powerful as Microsoft's now-even-more-pricey version, but with all the features you are likely to use. Available on any computer you sign into GMail with—ultimately portable. Wordproc Go into the word processor, and use an interface not unlike Word's. Use any of Google's 600+ online fonts, or just the standards. Do text formatting, indents, margins, alignment, line spacing, the works. Keyboard shortcuts work much as they would on a regular app. Headers and footers with automatic page numbering. An equation editor. Comments. Insert images, create shapes, make tables. Open any document, save it to your Google account, or export it to your desktop as MS Word, PDF, Open Office, RTF, or plain text. Printing will save the file to your computer as a PDF, preserving the fonts (though you can download and install any or all of them if you want). Moreapps Same goes for spreadsheets instead of Excel, presentations instead of PowerPoint. There's a drawing program and a form builder. And then you can add from a long list of extra apps, including code editors, QR code generators, Mail Merge, photo cataloging and editing apps, chart and diagram builders, as well as more alternatives for text editing and presentation building. More than 100 add-on apps. Sliderocket OK, so there's no “Smart Art” or “Word Art.” How often do you really use those, anyway? If you need advanced features, then you're out of luck—but probably 95% of all Word users don't. And I have not checked all the add-on apps; it's possible that some have the missing features you might need, like Mail Merge. Don't like where Microsoft is going? Don't use it. Just get free GMail. Save a cool grand over a decade.
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  1. Troy
    February 16th, 2013 at 13:37 | #1

    man Micros~1 is jumping the shark hard now.

    I’m still using Excel 2008 too. I got the whole suite for like $60 since I was going to a community college back then. I only use Excel, but I use it a lot! Hard to believe I’ve been using it for 20 years already!

    2008 was too slow on my 2006 Intel iMac (I think it’s running C# code underneath) but it’s plenty fast enough on my 2008 MBP.

    Less than zero need to upgrade. I could move off of it I guess if something better comes along.

    I installed Windows 2012 Server this month on my MBP and man do I hate that GUI. Reminds me of Windows 3 or even 286 in its general UE crappiness.

    Booting back into 10.8 is like escaping Eastern Germany or something. Apple is just *so* far ahead of Micros~1 right now it’s just like System 7 vs Windows 3.

    Funny thing is I need to run Windows 8 for Visual Studio & TypeScript. I think Microsoft has a good thing going with this TypeScript thing and I’m really getting into it now.

    I’m even evaluating if I can write my own OS X-hosted IDE for TypeScript app development. The open-source pieces are all there — Microsoft’sTypeScript compiler project, Google’s V8 JavaScript engine & Webkit implementation (together known as ‘Chromium’) and CEF, the Chromium Embedded Framework to bundle Chromium environment within a proper desktop OS X app. Lotsa work for just one person getting all of that working smoothly together, but the payoff might be pretty big, like how Metrowerks got big in the 1990s, LOL.

    I’ve been using Visual Studio for almost 20 years now too, and man is it crappy now too!

    OS X is just such a nice place to work, compared to Windows. Apple’s made some big strides in this area since Tiger, while Micros~1 has been losing the plot completely.

    Windows 7 was kinda OK, but the 10.7/10.8 cycle really pushed Apple ahead in many areas.

    In other interesting news Sony is getting ready to announce the PS4. Each new iteration I hope they move towards a C64/Amiga direction, since I think the world needs a simple PC like that. Cut everything down to HTML5 as the OS basically, plus OpenGL etc for the game code.

    If Sony doesn’t do it, maybe Apple will. I think Sony’s market cap is $14B now, Apple should just buy it and figure out what Apple-Sony would look like.

    Even with the recent AAPL collapse, the company itself is still scary-big. People don’t understand how BIG Apple/Google/Microsoft are these days.

    Apple made $56B last year. MSFT, $22B. GOOG, $13B. To put that in perspective, 10,000 engineers cost around $2B to feed . . . each of these companies could hire 10,000 people if they could find, house, and manage them.

  2. kensensei
    February 17th, 2013 at 01:45 | #2

    I just tried the Google Word processor program online, and I don’t even have a GMail account. Works well and is very intuitive! I found that the software automatically saves your work for you, so you don’t need to save as you go…

    I could not find the imaging program you used “slickrocket.” Where did you find it?

    There is another online photo editing software called “Editor”

    http://pixlr.com/editor/

    I can’t really recommend it though because the program only allows you to “save” as an editor format, which is incompatible with Photoshop etc.

    –kensensei

  3. Luis
    February 17th, 2013 at 12:29 | #3

    Ken:

    I just tried the Google Word processor program online, and I don’t even have a GMail account.

    Didn’t you have to at least get a Google account?

    I could not find the imaging program you used “slickrocket.” Where did you find it?

    Perhaps this was due to not using GMail (?), but the 100+ alternate apps can be found by going to the “Create” menu and clicking “Connect more apps” at the bottom of the menu.

    There is another online photo editing software called “Editor”…

    I should probably do another blog post sometime after researching all online apps. Google does a particularly good job, but it may be that there is a lot that most people just don’t know about that might make a lot of paid software unnecessary… and would definitely be a huge step forward for Linux, which mostly suffers from a lack of software selection.

  4. kensensei
    February 18th, 2013 at 13:22 | #4

    Luis,

    I have a Google account, but no GMail.

    Oh, yeah, now I see the other apps. Click on “Connect more apps” and there are tons of those little f*#ker to play around with, including SlideRocket. It’s more of a PowerPoint program, isn’t it?

    Pixlr Editor is the online drawing program that is “most similar” to Photoshop. That is by no means saying they are at all the same. Comes in handy when you need to edit a photo quickly with no access to the real thing.

    I found another drawing program on Google Drive called “PicMonkey”, but that’s only for those interested in adding child-play effects like “evil eyes” and “Dracula blood” to their photos. Pretty pointless to be honest…

    –kensensei

  5. Luis
    February 20th, 2013 at 14:13 | #5
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