Sunday, 5 June 2011

Do You Really Need Microsoft Office?

I stopped using Microsoft Office 4-5 months ago. Do I miss it? No.

Companies spend a lot of money on Microsoft Office and it is certainly a huge money spinner for Microsoft. When most communications are performed in Email today, what do people use Word for anymore?

Let me tell you how I operate.

Firstly I am 100% in the Cloud. So I use Google Docs for all of my document requirements. Is it as good as Office? Feature for feature, no. But I don't even know how to use most of what Word offers. If I need to write a formal letter then Google Docs meets all my requirements. And this is FREE!

Does Google Docs do any thing Word can't do? YES. You can edit a document in the cloud with up to 50 people simultaneously! This is a huge feature that saves a load of time when the alternative is 10 versions of a document being sent around your company via email and then someone having to consolidate everyone's comments into one document. I have had customers in two-minds about moving to the Cloud until the moment they saw this feature. Then the penny drops. There is no turning back. Read more about this.

What happens if I must read a Word or Excel document? I can upload them to Google Docs and they convert to Google Docs format. While the conversion is sometimes not 100% I have a backup process by using Microsoft's viewers. Microsoft offer FREE document viewers. It can be downloaded here. You can view and print Microsoft documents without any trouble.

If I am off line and do need to use a Windows installed word processor then I have started to use LibreOffice Writer. This is also free along with Open Office which both support the Open Document format standard as well as Word or Excel for their spreadsheet version. You can download the free version of LibreOffice here.

Google will offer off-line mode for Google Docs by the end of the summer. Then you can edit all those documents off-line as well.

Google Docs, Open Office and LibreOffice can save documents as Word or PFD so you can still share documents in that format if required. But I really question a company spending so much money on Microsoft Office licenses when it offers almost no value over the FREE alternatives in the market.

If one or two users are power users then you are justified to spend the money.

If you are using unlicensed software then none of this will matter to you however to put things in line you can simply replace your unlicensed software with valid licensed software and protect your business in doing so - all for FREE. If however you are using old licensed software then you can stay where you are or if you are considering an upgrade, think twice. Consider the free options available. A 10 user company could say as much as US$5000.

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