(+) A New Generation of Office Suites to Replace Your Microsoft Bloat

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Microsoft Office consists of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Depending upon the version of Microsoft Office you purchase, it also might include OneNote, Outlook, Microsoft Publisher, or Skype. First launched in 1988, Microsoft Office has become the de facto word processing and office management software standard of the computer industry. Softpedia reported (at http://goo.gl/bGu7Dl) that Office is used by more than a billion people worldwide. As popular as the Microsoft Office suite has become, it still is not “the best” office suite of programs for everyone. In fact, Microsoft Office has some very good competitors.

Perhaps the biggest threat to Microsoft’s dominance isn’t pricing, however. I find that Microsoft Office is rapidly becoming obsolete.

Microsoft Office has added many new features over the years, but its primary use hasn’t changed much in twenty-six years. The computing world is changing rapidly, and yet Microsoft hasn’t kept up.

Since its introduction in 1988, Microsoft Office has become bloated as more and more features were added by various teams of programmers. It also has become slower, despite the fact that today’s computers are much, much faster than those of twenty-six years ago. Perhaps the biggest drawback, however, is the price. Unlike most other computer software, Microsoft Office remains as a very expensive product. The lowest-priced version, Office Home & Student 2013, retails for $139.99 while Office Professional 2013 will set you back $399.99. You can also subscribe to Office 365 Home Premium for $99.99 per year. If you shop around, you can find discounts from those prices; but the bottom-line price will still be much higher than any of several excellent alternative programs.

Even worse, the current Microsoft Office 2013 only works on Windows 7 and Windows 8. If you are still using Vista or Windows XP, you cannot upgrade to the current version of Microsoft Office. A Macintosh version is also available.

I used Microsoft Office for years and even paid for upgrades every time a new version was released. I eventually discovered free and open source software that did most of the same functions as Microsoft Office. The free programs have matured over the years and are now easy to install, easier to use than the Microsoft product, and generally faster in operation. My current favorite is LibreOffice (http://www.libreoffice.org/) although Apache OpenOffice (http://www.openoffice.org/) is also an excellent choice. Both are available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. Kingsoft Office is also an excellent alternative, available in two versions: a free version and a Pro version that sells for $69.95. Kingsoft Office is available for Windows and Android, and an iOS version for iPad and iPhone devices is in late beta test. Details may be found at http://ksosoft.com/.

That being said, I am now using these Windows and Macintosh Office alternatives less and less.

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