How to affordably own your office software

Summary: Dump Microsoft Office, with its new licensing restrictions, and get LibreOffice instead.

By  for Linux and Open Source |

February 18, 2013

If you take a close look at Microsoft’s new Office licensing, it’s crystal clear: Microsoft no longer
wants you to own your office software. They want you to rent it. So, why not get
LibreOffice for free instead?
LibreOffice for free, or MS-Office for a perpetual annual fee or a higher one-time
price and locked to a single PC. It’s your choice.

You don’t have to believe
me, the open-source, Linux guy. I quote Ed Bott, ZDNet’s Microsoft maven,

You can no longer buy Office, Microsoft’s flagship product, on removable media

You can’t even download offline installer files for the three retail editions of Office:
Home and Student, Home and Business, and Professional.”

But, wait, there’s more, much more. “Multi-PC editions are no longer available,” and
“Your perpetual license is locked to one PC.” Your PC goes up in smoke? Too bad, you can’t
legally or physically reinstall “your” copy of Office on another PC.

Why is Microsoft doing this? Well, as Bott explained in an earlier article,

Microsoft is applying the classic ‘carrot and stick’ approach to force you to rent Microsoft Office
instead of buying it
. The bottom line is it will cost you more to buy Office and you’ll get
less for your money than if you subscribe to Office annually. That’s great for Microsoft.
Lousy for you and your company.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like “owning” my software. I like picking and choosing where I can
install it and how I use it. And, also call me sensible. I can pay $150 a year for

Office 365 Small Business Premium
 forever and a day or I can use LibreOffice for
free forever and use it anyway and anywhere I want.

Sure, they’re not the same thing. Office 365 Small Business Premium comes with Word, Excel,
PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, and Access. LibreOffice 4.0 comes with Writer (Word);
Calc (Excel); Impress (PowerPoint); and Base (Access). LibreOffice doesn’t have equivalents
to OneNote or Outlook. On the other hand, you can always use
instead of Outlook and LibreOffice includes Draw, a graphics program.

So, unless your business depends on OneNote, which is just fancy note-taking software,
I don’t see any good reasons to making MS-Office a perpetual part of your IT budget.
Besides, if note-taking really is a big deal for you, may I suggest
Evernote instead?

Document format compatibility between the two office suites remains an issue, but it’s much less of one
than it used to be. Microsoft has gotten better at working with LibreOffice’s native Open Document Format
(ODF) and LibreOffice has gotten the hang of working with Microsoft’s OpenXML format.

To me, it all comes down to whether you want to be a renter or a “buyer.” When the cost of buying is zero,
I think anyone who can shake themselves from the delusion that they must use Microsoft Office because
they always have will know which is the wisest course.

Read more


About fblauer

Fred Blauer is a senior consultant with more than 20 years of experience providing information systems consulting, ERP implementation, syste
This entry was posted in Business open source, Tools. Bookmark the permalink.

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