Monday, August 27, 2012

Handwriting on the Wall

Yesterday I told you about the sinister plans Microcrafty has for Windows XP. Today I want to caution you about more of their plans.

When Microshifty end support for Windows XP it will also end support for Office 2003. Now you probably don't know what I am talking about. Most people never learn what word processing system they are using because the software is so good that it has become invisible. Microsoft Word is the industry standard and if you ain't using it you ain't working with the rest of the world.

So you probably use whatever came loaded on your machine, some form of Office 2003 or maybe even an old copy of Microsoft Works. If you have a fairly new machine, you will have Word 2007 or Office 2007 and will be happy and question not so long as it opens every time you click the icon.

And that is a perfectly reasonable way to deal with a word processing program unless you happen to be a writer and then the whole picture changes.

First and foremost things have to be compatible across platform and they have to be able to snyc-up with the publisher's type setting program or their publishing app.

That means Word.

Or it did until just a few years ago.

A few years back the clever Europeans got tired of Micrograsping's constant upgrading and virus attacks and bug fixes and not being tied to the platform like we are they came up with an alternative, Star Office. Now Star Office did all of the same things that the high-priced spread did and was fully compatible with all of its programs and it was free and so they used it and liked it and it grew and grew until some sharp-eyed businessman noticed that a bunch of folks were using this open sourced software and they weren't using Microplunder's softare and things were going alright for them so he said, "Self, you should buy this thing and see if it can be used to turn a profit in the americas." And he did.

But the problems with making it a money-maker was that it was open source and could be altered or changed by anyone and that meant you couldn't get a lock on it and so it could stay wild and free and continue to grow and so he sold off the whole project and made a quick getaway.

By now old Star Office had gone through a name change or two and could be found on your friendly neighborhood Internet as OpenOffice.

I've used this for a coupla years now and can't find anything which Microsnotty does better. In fact I am writing this post on OpenOffice and it is completely compatible with the blog and anything else I need to use it for so I don't depend on Microlofty anymore.

You see I sort of got my nose bent out of shape when I discovered that Office 2003 and Office 2007 are not natively compatible. You can make them play nice together but you have to download a new bit of software and install the compatibility pack and that seems to me like a lot of extra work just to make one word processing program talk to a program written by the same company.

Then there's the constant barrage of bug fixes and virus alerts and when you combine all of those things staying with Microdufuss just seems like a lot of work for something they want you to pay for all over again every three years.

Now this is not to say everything is perfect with OpenOffice. Far from it. Seems that with all of the wheeling and dealing that went on when the big guy was trying to turn it into a cash cow they sort of screwed things up and some parts of the open source software are now propriety and you have to pay to use them and if you are going to have to pay through the nose just to write out a Dear John letter or maybe if you've just been rejected by the Grand and Ancient Order of The Charcoal Pencil and Quill Pen for their 42nd annual invitational show and cake walk maybe you need to dash off a suicide note or a mash note or a poisoned pen note so there isn't really any reason to not use the high-priced spread and there you are back using the same old program and paying for a new and improved copy every eighteen months.

So maybe LibreOffice is for you. Now if you took my advice yesterday and are out there experimenting with Ubuntu you already have LibreOffice cause it is the default word processor for Gnome which is the default desktop GUI for Ubuntu and so you have it and can start using it and won't have to download it and that will make things much quicker.

But if you didn't and don't want to and are trying hard not to listen to me then here is the link so that when you come to your sense you can still download it and be free from Microuniversal forever.

And why would I try another off brand program when I could just stick with ole tried and true? First it isn't an off brand, it's OpenOffice just like before but designed by some pretty smart folks who got annoyed when the big guy started trying to take their work and make a buck off it and close the source code so that only his minions could write it and make themselves over in the image of Microobelisk.

So the base code is solid. Now I've just been using LibreOffice for about three weeks ever since I downloaded Ubuntu onto my laptop, so my experience with it isn't as track-tested as OpenOffice, but from a quick three week look it seems every bit as good and it is free and open sourced and that means you can get your work done without paying half of your year's profits to the folks in Redmond.

Sure you are an artist and don't spend much time or thought about computers and the programs that run them and that is exactly as it shroud be; artists should be working at art and not slaving over a computer.

But in April of 2014 when the lights go out for Windows XP and Office 2003, don't let your work grind to a halt because you don't have working programs or a working computer. You've been told and warned and advised and begged and I hope some of you will take a look and see if this is a solution which might work for you.

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