I’m a long-time user of Microsoft products. I’ll admit it. And to be honest, the main reason is because of necessity. The computers in my high school had Windows 95. All the campus-owned computers at my college ran Windows 98 or XP. The computers at work run Windows XP (though we’re now slowly upgrading to Windows 7). All of our personal computers have run a Windows operating system of one generation or another.
And with that came the productivity software. When I purchased my first computer for college in 1999, we dropped the dollars to have it come with whatever version of Office was current at the time. I purchased MS Office 2003 when I upgraded my computer for grad school. And the hubs and I gladly reused that Office 2003 license on our home computer when my grad school machine finally gave in to The Blue Screen of Death.
In the past couple years, however, we’ve avoided anything related to MS Office on our home computers. Our desktop needed a major reinstall of Windows about a year ago, due to some freak registry error I couldn’t comprehend, and we just barely managed to save the contents of our hard drive (including thousands of vacation photos, the value of which cannot be priced). We decided not to bother reinstalling Office 2003 and went with OpenOffice instead.
I had made the decision to do the same for my Acer netbook. Yes, the one that nearly died six months after purchasing it, and which the hubs resuscitated.
For a really long time, this seemed to be a good decision regarding our productivity software. I mean, free is always the best price, and I don’t do a lot of fancy stuff with Word or Excel or anything like that. Plus, since I use WriteWayPro as my writing software, all I really needed a word processing program for was to format drafts in their entirety and work on stuff from, well, work.
We’ve batted around the idea of biting the bullet and purchasing MS Office again for quite a while. For one thing, just about every file I transfer to and from work requires some fixing on either end, because we upgraded to Office 2010. And despite OpenOffice being “compatible”, it really isn’t. The formatting is off 99% of the time.
And as for writing – well, OpenOffice has decided it no longer knows how to recognize American English, despite the US dictionary extension being installed. I can’t do a true spell check if the program thinks every word is spelled wrong. And the formatting issues irritate me too. It’s just really getting to a point where OpenOffice has outlived its usefulness.
Microsoft has its ups and downs. I think we’d be hard pressed to find a productivity suite anywhere that does everything just as its supposed to, with no bugs. The bigger headache now is that you can’t even buy a multi-machine license anymore, unless you want to “subscribe” to Office 365 – for $99 a pop every year. I get that the point is so you can get the latest updates every time you renew. But really, Microsoft? You’re that short on funds that you have to make your productivity software a subscription? I can’t even just buy Word?
You do not play fair.