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Microsoft Avoidance

Entry 158, on 2005-04-13 at 14:01:15 (Rating 4, Computers)

I have several of aims in streamlining my current computer use. First is to use only Mac computers for everything. Second is to use Mac OS X programs by eliminating all old "Classic" programs. Third is to eliminate all Microsoft programs. I have two major reasons for this last aim. First is that Microsoft programs seem to be a constant source of bugs and security flaws. Second is that I just don't like Microsoft, because of their dirty business and political tactics.

I own a copy of Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac, and yes I did buy it (at education prices, so it wasn't too expensive). Office 2004 is a lot less buggy than previous versions, but it is still badly designed and just ugly (in every sense of the word).

I haven't managed to completely eliminate Office yet, but here's my strategy for minimising its use...

Instead of Microsoft Word use Apple's new Pages program. It will open Word documents, and translates most of them quite well. Its easy to use and does basic word processing much better than Word. Although it is lacking some of Word's more advanced features, it does have the tools most people need.

Instead of PowerPoint use Apple's Keynote. This opens PowerPoint files really well, but it will change some PowerPoint specific features around slightly so don't expect every presentation to look exactly the same as the PowerPoint version. Keynote is very stable and it is capable of producing some really good looking presentations. Again, it lacks some of the more obscure features found in the Microsoft equivalent but does the basic task much better.

Excel is currently a problem. I haven't found a reasonable alternative, but I'm still working on that one.

Replace Entourage with Apple's Mail and iCal. THey are two separate programs for the mail and calendar functions, but that's the way it should be anyway in my opinion. The latest versions of these programs are brilliant. They pack lots of features into an easy to use, uncluttered interface.

The best thing about using Apple programs is how they fit into the rest of your computer environment. Apple's programs share information and use system wide services properly. Microsoft programs tend to work in a vacuum. They work together but not very well with anything else.

So, if you use a modern Mac, try these alternatives. Remember to give them a chance. Because they are different from the Microsoft standards you might be used to, it will probably take a few weeks before you really appreciate them. They are different because they are better, so its worth the effort to switch, in my opinion.

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