Sunday, May 20, 2007

I Find Myself Dependent and Unhappy

Let me clarify for those of you who love me and are now concerned...I find myself dependent upon and unhappy with Microsoft! I have been having a number of issues recently, and as I look for alternatives, I find that Microsoft has me right where they want me...DEPENDENT.

It started with Microsoft Office. I have been using Microsoft Office for as long as I have been computing. I never had the money to buy Microsoft Office, I just had friends who gave me a copy, that they got from somebody else, and so on. I can't say that my conscience was really bothering me, but I knew I "should" use something that was legal, so I started looking for alternatives. That's when I found Open Office. I can't say enough about this free, open-source office suite. The most recent thing I found that I LOVE about it is that I can keep it and run it from my USB thumb drive...I don't even have to have it on my computer. I was ready to jump the ship and switch to Open Office, but then I found out that the mail merge feature was not nearly as developed as Microsoft Office, and so I found myself DEPENDENT. I use a lot of fairly complicated mail merge stuff at church, and so I needed it. The church ended up buying a Microsoft Office business license, so we all have legal copies now. But my newest pet peeve with MS Office is their refusing to adopt the same open source document format as almost every other office suite or word processor out there. Of course, Microsoft had to create their own "open source" format which is not compatible with anybody else. Even older versions of Microsoft Word cannot open the new format of Word 2007. They keep coming out with "better" software, but purposely write it to make what you have obsolete. Oh yeah, I spent 2 hours this week trying to figure out how to convert a Word 2000 mail merge to Word 2003. Never got it figured out, just had to redo it. Seems the learning curve between versions of some Office products is greater than that of learning the software from scratch!

And then there was my recent issues with Microsoft Outlook (while we're talking about Office). I have been using Outlook since Outlook 97 and I am heavily DEPENDENT on it, even more so since I switched from a Palm PDA to a Pocket PC. I'm now running Outlook 2003 and ever since the Daylight Savings patch came out, Outlook has not worked right for me. This post would be too long to detail all of my issues, but I ain't happy. I spent a good part of last week searching for an alternative. I found one that would work well (EssentialPIM), but it just would not sync closely enough with my PocketPC.

And now I'm having issues with Windows Media Player. I let Windows XP automatically update me to version 11 of Media Player when it first came out, but I had issues, so I rolled back to version 10. For however many months that has been, I've been saying "no" when asked by WMP if I wanted to upgrade. Finally I bought a song a, and it would not play without upgrading WMP. Tonight I tried to let it scan my computer for media. It took more than 2 hours and finally locked up my computer. I'm going to check out some alternatives, but again I am DEPENDENT because I've ripped all of my music into .wma format and I sync my music with my Dell DJ, so I have to look for an alternative program that can do all that. I'm downloading WinAmp right now. I may not have to be DEPENDENT here.

If it were not for my DEPENDENCE on Outlook, my PocketPC and the Windows-only software I use to maintain three church-related web sites, I would be giving very serious consideration to making the switch to an Ubuntu, Linux system.

To my Mac friends (you know who you are Jason, Brad and others!), the three items mentioned in the previous paragraph would also hinder a wholesale switch to Mac. Dual boot? OK, that might work. If you pay for the laptop, I'll use it!

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