Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Alternatives to full MS Office

Today I read the news that MS will release a limited/ad-based version of MS Office to be bundled with new computers.


I don't think that they would have done that hadn't it be for all the users that get frustrated with the "trialware" installed in their computers and opt for alternatives

I know. I've advised several people to install Free applications when their MS Office trial version expires.

For years the MS apologists have been contending that the alternatives weren't good enough because every user needed the advanced features of MS Office. Now even MS is accepting that most users do not need that, and they can do well enough in a limited functionality version.

This means: They've now lost that argument.

This change in strategy from MS gives us, FLOSS advocates, new arguments when explaining Free software on top of the existing arguments of open formats and code

Here are some of them for you to freely use:
  • MS Office starter only comes with new computers. Free alternatives can be installed in any computer ;

  • MS Office starter shows adds. Free alternatives do not;

  • MS Office starter tracks your usage to allow for targeted advertisement. Free alternatives do not ;

  • MS Office starter has limited functionality by design. Free alternatives are constantly evolving and improving ;

  • MS Office starter does not include all the Office tools. Some free alternatives include the tools missing, including presentations and email clients ;

  • MS Office starter has limited functionality but is not light. Some free alternatives are designed to be small and fast, e.g. Abiword and Gnumeric are designed to be light while providing some functionality not available in MS Office starter.

If you reached this page looking for MS Office and want to know what the alternatives are, just ask me. Meanwhile, here are some of the alternatives I've mentioned:

I see it as a good thing that MS felt enough pressure to strike back. What is not good is that they'll use their market dominance to force it on new computers but that's fodder for another post.