Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
2/14/2007
07:46 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
Commentary
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Why My Deep-Seated Moral Principles Prevent Me From Putting Microsoft Office On My Mac

I decided the other day that I'm going to strive to avoid putting Microsoft Office on my new Mac. Like many users, I have a deep-seated moral principle preventing me from deploying this Microsoft product. The principle is: I don't want to spend $300 if I don't have to, especially since I only use Office once or twice a day.

I decided the other day that I'm going to strive to avoid putting Microsoft Office on my new Mac. Like many users, I have a deep-seated moral principle preventing me from deploying this Microsoft product. The principle is: I don't want to spend $300 if I don't have to, especially since I only use Office once or twice a day.

Funny thing: I've been covering Microsoft for more than 10 years, and I've known for all that time that Office cost hundreds of dollars. But it's different when I'm contemplating taking all those smackers out of the family burrito budget.

I may end up getting Office in the end anyway. I need to be able to share Office documents with other people as e-mail attachments. My company, like just about everybody else in the world, is standardized on Office, and I don't want to make other people in the company have to work because of my choice to deviate from the company standard. I don't want to get any e-mails saying, "Hey, Mitch, I couldn't open your attachment."

For now, I'm trying NeoOffice, which is a version of the open source OpenOffice.org competitor to Microsoft Office, optimized for Mac OS X.

Another alternative would be to use OpenOffice.org itself, but that requires me to first install the X11 desktop on the Mac, and I'd rather avoid messing with that if I can.

NeoOffice runs a couple of versions behind OpenOffice, but I don't care about that. I do very simple word processing; about the only fancy features I need are changing-tracking and comments. Likewise, with Excel, I just make simple spreadsheets. I don't need to make pivot tables. I don't even know what a pivot table is. And I hardly make or view any PowerPoint slides at all.

NeoOffice passed the five-minute test on my Mac, meaning that I downloaded it, installed it, got it running, didn't have a violently repellent reaction when I opened it up, and I successfully opened and did some light editing in a couple of documents.

I also did sort of a sneaky test: I created a document in OpenOffice in Microsoft Word, and sent it to a colleague. I didn't tell my colleague I was doing it. And it worked out fine; she didn't know the difference.

(Reminds me of that old Taster's Choice instant coffee commercial, the one where they say that they're replacing the coffee in a fancy restaurant with Taster's Choice. And nobody can tell the difference. I always thought the point of that commercial was not that Taster's Choice was so great, but rather that the restaurant shouldn't be making its coffee using the wastewater from the dishwashers. But I digress.)

If NeoOffice doesn't work out, I have several other options before I have to blow the dust off my wallet and hit up Microsoft for a copy of Office.

I can try native OpenOffice.org, of course.

And there are several Web-based office suites available from various vendors.

The free Google Docs and Spreadsheets allows users to create Microsoft Office-compatible word-processing and spreadsheet files. Zoho offers its own free word processor and spreadsheet, which our reviewers Preston Gralla and Barbara Krasnoff preferred to Google's offerings.. Zoho will probably be my first stop if NeoOffice doesn't work out.

And Ajax 13 offers the AjaxWrite Web-based word-processor.

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