Frustrating Waste of Time

I am the resident Computer expert in my household, company, business and among friends. People ask me to fix computer problems. And one of the major problems that I see is program and version incompatibilities. One person has Microsoft Word 2003, another has Word 2007, a third has Word 2010 and a fourth uses Open Office, which can read and write in all Microsoft Office formats.

They are working together, editing and sharing documents. So, one person writes a document and emails it to another, who changes a few things and passes it to another, who also edits it, etc. The problem arises as the Word 2007 person uses some feature that is new to or handled differently in Word 2007 than in previous versions. The Word 2003 person then either cannot access the feature or Word 2003 can’t handle it correctly and goofs it up. This often affects the formatting of the document. The same kinds of things happen between the various Word versions and between Word and Open Office.

Why does this happen? Because Microsoft wants its users to upgrade every year, to the tune of hundreds of dollars per year depending on what programs you use (Word, Excel, Power Point, Access). Microsoft has a long record of not using open source formats because it does not want program compatibility. It wants your money.

I spend a lot of time trying to rectify problems associated with these problems. Those who work in this kind of scenario are continually frustrated with the various issues and problems associated with different programs and software versions. There is also much unnecessary fuming at the supposed idiocy of other people, thinking that they don’t know how to use a program when the culprit is actually a software version mismatch.

Businesses often solve the problem by making sure that everyone is using the current version of the same software, which can become quite expensive. But they’d rather pay the costs than have the headaches and lost time fussing with the problems. And Microsoft is glad to accommodate them.

There is a much better solution that is free—www.OpenOffice.org. Open Office is supposed to be free and is continuously upgraded, so there is no guilt associated with using it. It is completely equivalent to Microsoft Office. It works virtually the same. It loads and saves files to the Microsoft formats or to the open source formats, so you can use Open Office and read and save Microsoft files. However, because Microsoft is continually working against being compatible with other programs, there are sometimes formatting difficulties between Open Office and Microsoft Office programs—but not much.

Nonprofit organizations and churches would do themselves and all who work with them a great favor if they would abandon Microsoft and use Open Office. By making this simple change they would save themselves time and money, save those who work with them (volunteers) time and money, and have an up-to-date, seamless production cycle for their office computing. Did I mention that making this change would cost NOTHING? It would be extremely helpful if everyone who worked with nonprofit organizations made this simple change—funders, grant writers, corporations, etc. Failure to make this simple, free change costs nonprofits time and money, which they don’t have.

To really make is easy Open Office users now have several Cloud alternatives to Microsoft Live Sky Drive. The Open Office extension MultiCloud File Manager provides seamless use of:

  • Amazon S3
  • RackSpace Cloud Files
  • MobileMe
  • Box.net
  • Gmail (using Gmail as a storage cloud)
  • GMail Apps Email
  • Email (using IMAP or POP 3 based email accounts as a storage cloud)
  • FTP (using FTP as a storage cloud)
  • WebDav (any WebDav enabled storage cloud)
  • Microsoft Live SkyDrive (including Live Essentials)
  • Microsoft Live Mesh
  • Google Docs
  • DropBox
  • Zimbra Briefcase

Or Open Office users can use IBM LotusLive Connector for OpenOffice.org Extension for seamless access to the IBM LotusLive Cloud, or TeamDrive OpenOffice.org Plug-in for the TeamDrive Cloud.

Use a Mac? No problem. See this version.

With these extension, users can edit the same files using Open Office and simply save them to the Cloud for safety, backup and collaboration. My life would be easier if more people would make some of these simple  changes.

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