My wife discovered that Microsoft’s Office 2013 will be licensed to one and only one PC. You lose your lifeblood’s tool but still have the software, or you upgrade your PC, and you’ll be buying another Office 2013. Into the trash goes the one that works just fine. It’s software garbage. (I just found out it looks like Microsoft is going to remove this ‘feature.’)
Nevertheless, so many software companies are going to subscriptions these days. I recently upgraded my video editing system (they do make the BEST video software out there, I think), and Adobe pushed hard to get me to take advantage of the subscription plan. The problem is the bandwidth and unpredictability of when the software wants to connect to decide it’s okay to keep using it on the PC. For example, in the Yukon last summer, a software package I specifically purchased, which was supposed to be stand alone, for my Android phone to locate my data connection satellite 22,000 miles in space so I could get on the internet suddenly wanted to verify my license–over the net. The irony of ironies.
Subscriptions makes good business sense, but it’s hard for us who spend a lot of time on the road and pay for every megabyte of usage. Every time we download an update it costs us. Every time the subscription has to check in to see that it’s still okay to be on your PC, it costs us. Just to install the gigabytes or hundreds of megabytes of software costs greatly. Or we have to find a free wi-fi connection in the middle of nowhere that allows huge downloads. And, then, when it wants to verify the license–arrrgh.
There are alternatives, but many are web-based, like Google Docs/Drive. So, with that in mind, if you don’t need all the features of Office, there are a few free alternatives that are not web-based.
- Open Office — this free software package is basically Office 2003 (no ribbons). It offers the same functionality with writing, spreadsheets, presentations, database, etc. It’ll cost you (in terms of bandwidth) to download its several hundred megabytes, but then you’re off and running.
- Libre Office — this free software is built on Open Office with the same level of functionality under a different brand.
- Kingsoft Office — a stripped down, foreign knockoff of Office.
There are others if you search hard. If all you need is a word processor, there’s Word Pad, until Microsoft stops including that in their operating system.
Subscriptions are good for the publisher, but not so hot for the vandweller. I suspect we will be pushed into subscriptions for the mainstream apps, but it’s good to have the open software community who continues to thrive.