Getting Off Microsoft

posted Mar 26, 2004

This page has strategies for reducing your dependence on Microsoft. I'd like to submit that that page is really way too complex. Like any other massive company, it's better not to think of it as a monolithic entity but a tight coalition of many entities. Microsoft makes significant money in only two divisions, Windows and Office. It is no coincidence that the things that bother people most are how they handle Windows and Office.

I say, go ahead and treat Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office as seperate from Microsoft Everything Else. You want to free yourself from Microsoft? Lose your depedence on Windows and Office. It's that "simple", by which I mean a lot of the other stuff for individuals on that page is unnecessary, pointless, and ineffectual. You're not harming anyone buying a Microsoft Mouse; they don't have a monopoly, harmful or otherwise, there and haven't for a while. In general, their input devices have been high quality, perfectly standard, and even sometimes genuinely innovative. (I don't think they truly invented anything new but they did manage to make some older innovations economically viable, which is itself a significant accomplishment.)

Doesn't mean you have to abandon Windows or Office, either, just become independent of them. Download OpenOffice, and use it sometimes instead of Office . Try to install a Linux partition on your hard drive in addition to Windows and try to learn it, or buy a Mac.

The point is not so much to "punish" Microsoft as to make sure they can't force you to give them money, a position everyone ought to be able to understand. Considering the amount of money at stake, even for an individual, it's good to invest a little in keeping your independence, especially from a convicted monopolist with a proven history of shady dealings, harsh licenses, and strong-arm tactics. Becoming independent of Office is particularly easy; less then hour download over a broadband connection and you'll find 80-100% of your Office needs can be met elsewhere (depending on how you use Office). Considering the price of Office, vs. the price of the competition (and I don't just mean "free"; it's been over a decade since any competing office suite like WordPerfect or Lotus was able to charge even $100 for a full version while Office was safely in the "multiple hundred" range), it's too easy to not do it.

Oh, and you're still using Internet Explorer, for the love of Pete download Mozilla (or one of the varients like FireFox) right now, even if you're on dialup, hie thee hence to the "Privacy and Security" sections of the prefs panel, and start shutting off pop-ups and gratuitous image animations. There is also a Mozilla plug-in that blocks out Flash animations unless you click on them to play them; just click on that link in Mozilla and restart Mozilla. This is an even easier no-brainer then Office!


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