Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Nine months sans Microsoft ...

Well, today marks nine months since we became a microsoft free household (not quite true, we still have an old w2k laptop hidden away just in case, but I've only had to get it out once to configure a linksys wireless router ).

Now, I am not an anti microsoft zealot. Yes, I think Microsoft's business practices were not the best, but then all through the nineties and well into the first few years of the present decade there was no real alternative as a mass market desktop operating system - linux wasn't (isn't ?) there, and Apple seemed to lose the plot, and it took a long time to come back with OS X. The same in the application space. The competitors were as good if not better, and they took a long time a dying. Microsoft got where it was by either having products to which there was no serious alternative, or by convincing people that there was no serious alternative to Office and the rest. That was then and this is now, we work with the present reality.

Judi isn't an anti anything zealot as far as computers go. Computers are tools to her. Email, web, grading student reports, writing course notes and assignments and that's it. Providing she can send emails and buy stuff online, research stuff and get into the school email system she's fine.

Our decision for going microsoftletss was purely pragmatic. I can do most of what I can do with abiword, open office, google apps, firefox, zoho and pan, and I can do this on a couple of fairly low powered machines - an old ppc imac and a pc I put together for $83. Judi likes to play with digital photography, so we bought an imac purely because the screen was nicer. I though we might have to buy a second hand windows pc as well but that hasn't turned out to be the case. Firefox, safari, google apps and neo office have let her get her work done, even coping with the docx problem.

The only couple of problems we've had is with bathroom design catalogues (canned autorun powerpoint on a cd) and an ikea kitchen design tool. Things we could work around easily and turned out to be totally inessential. Other than that it's fine. Emails get written, appointments made, books bought, assignments graded, documents formatted.

So we've proved you can live without windows. We've also proved we could live with windows and not linux or OS X - no operating system has a set of killer apps for middle of the road usage.

And more and more we're using online apps - at what point does zonbu or a easy neuf bcome a true alternative? (and when do we get vendor lock in and all the rest in the online space?)

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