Experimenting With Replacing Microsoft Office

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Hook, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. EdmundDantes

    EdmundDantes Mobile Deity

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    Hook, in general, every computer I ever bought (desk and laptop) that had Windows installed also had Microsoft Office. I"m sure it's not 100 percent in the market, but close. Now they want to push that dumb (for me) subscription Office, which I don't want.
     
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  2. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    fwiw, I've always had to pay extra for that...which is why I'm still using MS Office Student edition 2003 :vbgrin:
     
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  3. jigwashere

    jigwashere Mobile Deity

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    I'm not a fan is the subscription model, either. As I recall, my Windows 98 pc from Dell included Office, but that was a deal from the manufacturer, not an offering from Microsoft. In recent years, my pc purchases had student or trial versions of Office, which I consider bloat.



    Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2016
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  4. Hook

    Hook Caught Watching Prawn

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    So, my initial feasibility testing went nicely. This just involved excursions with each app or to see if I could get the same functionality from a replacement app or program as I could get from the MS Office program being replaced. Critical in this testing phase was convincing myself that TextMaker (2016) and Word (2016) were fully format compatible as word processing is my most used function and I share with Word users. Also, some places insist on providing files in Word format. For anything that I use, TextMaker and Word were 100%. I was even able to do Track Changes in one and it was handled fine in the other, both ways.

    There might be some esoteric feature where they diverge, but if so, I don't use it. It also may be that if you are someone that heavily depends on VB Macros, there could be problems. Softmaker has it's own macro developer called BasicMaker. However, I don't use Macros for anything, so I don't know. It's also possible they are compatible.

    However, all of this was from specific and isolated tests.

    So now it's time to move to feasibility test phase 2. This involves, while keeping the MS Office apps and programs installed, trying to exclusively use the replacements for at least a couple of months. I'm going away the next two week-ends, but I'll begin this test the week of July 11th. Probably I'll call the end of this phase at the end of September.

    For clarity, the complete roster of programs and replacements are as follows:

    [​IMG]

    What's nice is that all of the replacements are cross-platform and are even supported on Linux. I'm not planning on a move to Linux and it requires purchasing separate licenses except for Pimlical, but I have a Linux laptop and it's nice to know I can. Pimlical and NoteCase Pro actually support OSX but none support iOS. Also, when I say I can keep things in sync with DropBox, you can probably use any cloud service. Also, all of these replacements operate with no compromise without any network connection.

    One of the things that I really appreciate is that all of the replacement programs have somewhat retro UI/UX, but with very modern capabilities. They do all the 2016 things they are supposed to do, but UI-wise, I'm back in 2003-- and I love it. Button Bars, Menus, no ribbons, no flat UI. I wish Pimlical Desktop weren't Java, but that's its method of being cross-platform. I definitely am liking these programs so far. But now I need to be using them all the time so I can find the less obvious things that might break down.

    It should be interesting. The important thing will be to really stay with the replacements and not fall back on what I know. And if there is something the replacements can't get right, make note of it. This is similar to when I forced myself to my first smartphone, leaving my perfectly good TX in a drawer and not letting myself run to the TX rather than work stuff out on the phone. That was 2009, by the way. :vbwink:

    I'll let you know periodically how it's going.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2016
  5. SGosnell

    SGosnell (retired) Palm Pilot

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    I've been using LibreOffice (and previously OpenOffice) in Linux for years, and it does anything Office can do. Office has always been an extra charge, and a stiff one, for Windows. Basic Windows does not come with Office, and never has. I had some angst about switching to Linux long ago, but I quickly found that I didn't miss Office at all. I would dread having to start using it again, if worse came to disaster. Really, there is not a single Windows application that I miss at all. Everything I need is readily available elsewhere. I admit I'm not the entire market, and there are niches that haven't been filled by anything else, but they're small niches that aren't worth the effort to fill. I think you'll like LibreOffice, it's the same across operating systems AFAIK, and is first-class software.
     
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  6. Hook

    Hook Caught Watching Prawn

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    I pretty much agree with all you say for most people. I've always like MS Office and it was never a money suck because I got it from work for $10 (the complete Enterprise version). In deciding to move away from them, my critical requirement was that the word processor had to be able to maintain 100% fidelity with Word file formats and features. I've never been able to *reliably* get that with Libre Office. With Softmaker Office, I do get that. I also like the UI much better. I also have a good impression of their customer service. In addition, cross-platform includes Android, where I was already using it (and even that version was fully compatible with Word file formats and features). And I was able to pick up Softmaker Office 2016 for $17 on a flash sale. They do that quite often, so I'm biding my time for the Linux version to go on sale. :newpalm:

    For most people, however, Libre Office is fine and free, cross-platform, and doesn't need to be connected. :thumbsup:
     
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  7. Hook

    Hook Caught Watching Prawn

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    So, I'm only about a week into this experiment, but it is mostly working quite well. Thunderbird works nicely as an email client. Pimlical is pretty good as a PIM app. I love the Android client and the WiFi direct sync, no cloud involved, is as wonderful as my memories of my TX's WiFi sync. There are certainly areas where both Thunderbird and Pimlcal fall short, but mostly they are small concerns. I don't like that memos and contacts open as flying sub-windows rather than either their own tab or window. And for some reason you can't print the contacts because it never occurred to CESD that anyone would want to do that. :vbrolleyes: It's okay, because I can print my contacts from Thunderbird where they are duplicated. However, all in all, Pimlical Desktop and Pimlical for Android are quite nice. By the way, for this test, when I backburnered Outlook, I changed Outlook from a Pop email account to an IMAP account, so it still collects everything if I ever move back to it, but Thunderbird does the actual POP download. I'm not to concerned because I mostly only keep emails with information in them.

    The office apps are just perfect so farl. I love using Textmaker instead of Word and have even gone so far as to change all the file associations. I've had several occasions in the last week to share documents with Word users and no compatiblity problems. Textmaker, Planmaker and Presentations are all fine substitues for Office 2016.

    Now the Android apps for Softmaker Office are very confusing. They have phone versions and tablet versions. Also, they are not available as a bundle but as individual apps, which is what MS does with it's Android Office apps. For the phone, there is a Free office version of each (TextMaker, PlanMaker and Presentations) and Office version which cost. The trouble is that they tend to show the same description for both versions, so you have no idea what features one has versus the others. I only use a phone for lookup, so the free versions are fine.

    For the Tablet (Softmaker Office HD) there three versions, but I will ignore one, the Trial version which appears to simply be a 30 day trial of the full versions. There is Office HD and Office HD Basic apps. The basic apps are free and the HD apps are about $5.50. I own Office HD: Textmaker. I probably bought it back when it was more expensive as the reason there are so many versions is that Softmaker kept changing their minds about what they were doing with Android. The Office HD apps are amazing in that they give you a full desktop office experience on Android, more than even MS Offices tablet apps. Of course, it helps if your Android tablet has a 10.5" screen. Again, they don't tell you which features the basic versions have or don't have, but I have the basic versions for PlanMaker and Presentations because I really do only basic things on a tablet with those. I'll let you know if I ever figure out what features don't work. TextMaker HD is a really powerful, full-featured word processor.

    The one replacement that has not worked out as smoothly is trying to replace OneNote. It really is a one of a kind app. NoteCase Pro is a fantastic hierarchical notes app and on the desktop you can attach any sort of file or pictures you wish. Perfect, right?! Unfortunately, the Android app can't do anything with the attachments. It only handles text. The attachments are there, but the app can't do anything with them. Since the deep branching hierarchical text notes are very important, I could just use Presentations and other files organized into folders to supplement the notes. However, something else occurred to me. The attachments come through. Notecase Pro just doesn't have anything that can open them. How hard would it be to set up the program to make a call to the right app for a set of file associations you make in settings. Maybe it's really hard, but I'm going to ask the Dev.

    I do like that I can freely use NoteCase Pro with no signal whereas OneNote n Android is more limited if you have no signal. Basically, I have to decide if I can live without OneNote, because there really is nothing out there that is capable of truly replacing it, at least for Android.

    That's my general thoughts after one week. As I said, this test goes until September, so we'll see.
     
  8. jigwashere

    jigwashere Mobile Deity

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    Hook, please remind me: what was your evaluation of Evernote in relation to OneNote?
     
  9. Hook

    Hook Caught Watching Prawn

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    Evernote is too flat. It is very hard to be hierarchical with most tag-oriented note systems. In OneNote you have the Notebook, tabs, pages and then the things you put on those pages. NoteCase goes deeper. OneNote isn't about memos and shopping lists. It can be used that way, but it would be like using Word to send SMS messages.

    There's a great writers program called Scrivener that has both the word processor and the note and research facilities all in one program. It would be ideal except it doesn't do any mobile platforms (though they are working on iOS).

    With Evernote, I just have a bunch of floating notes which I could group with Tags, but it doesn't work as well for the way I do things.
     
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  10. SyncRaven

    SyncRaven Mobile Deity

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