Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bye bye Office!

I have never looked much further than Microsoft Word for my word processing needs. All the criticisms of Word over the years didn't bother me, because it was what I needed, and it did everything I wanted. From Word 97 onwards, I faithfully bought the newest upgrade. 
Sure, it was bloated, and I had to work to get it looking the way I wanted, but then I was set.
The price was high, but not too high. After all, I'm an author, so I needed the best tool for the job.
However in recent years, I've come to believe that Word isn't what I need anymore. When I got a new computer, I didn't have a copy of Office I could put on it, so I started thinking-do I need Office anymore?
I'm an author. I need to write a clear document, start to finish. I write all my books in one long document. It keeps the formatting consistent and I can go back and forth, checking on things. I start at the beginning and I finish at the end. Some writers write in chapters. Others write significant scenes and then link them together. Word can do all these things.
My favourite version of Word is 2010. I like the Ribbon, and unlike Word 2007, the Ribbon can be customised. What's more, I can put my own toolbar on, holding all the things I use most often. Including my custom macros that help me when I edit.
Office 2016 is all about collaboration, people working on the same document at the same time, in different places, coming together in the Cloud.
I don’t collaborate. The internet isn’t always available to me. So all that careful development is of no use at all to me. Why should I pay for it? The nearest I get to collaboration is working with editors, and publishing doesn’t work like that. We exchange documents, we don’t work on them at the same time. When I need to work, I disconnect the internet, to avoid distractions. 
I also use Outlook for my emails, and I like the way everything is integrated, so I can make notes, schedule events and link them together. Outlook. It’s useful, and handy to have it incorporated into everything else, but it’s murder to try to move settings from one place to another. Yes, you can use the .pst file, but it doesn’t save your settings, accounts, signatures and so on. So you have to do all those separately. 
I have the Ribbon and the Quick Access Bar set up the way I want, but if I set Word up on another computer, I have to import all those separately. That is a pain. Setting up my macros has become trickier with each iteration of Office, too.
True, Word has always been lacking in a few areas. It's a mega-program, and it has always done things I will never need. I just shove them out of the way. It can take its time opening, and it eats a lot of resources. I just get powerful computers. After all, I also use Photoshop.
I bought a tablet last year that had a copy of Office 2013 included. I used it, but I wasn't impressed enough to upgrade. It wasn't very attractive, for one thing, and it had things I didn't want, that wasted my time.
So I looked forward to the release of Office 2016. Maybe that would be the one. When Microsoft announced it, I looked at the innovations for Office 2016. I didn't see a need for any one of them. Not a single one. All that collaboration stuff went right over my head. Meh. I don't need it. The things I wanted, like tabs, just weren't there. Again.
Office works closely with OneDrive. I used that for a while, but it never worked properly. I tried using it as a back up, but that didn't work, either. It stopped working, or didn't copy what I told it to. Basically, I don't feel that I can rely on it. And telling my editor to pick up a copy from OneDrive? Forget it.
What I want isn't there anymore. I want a program I can write a book on. I'd like a good word processing and calendar that I can share across my devices. That's it. Everything else is frills.
When Microsoft announced Office 2016, I knew I had come to the parting of the ways. It was no longer meeting my needs.
But it was reliable, and I knew my way around it. I was willing to buy in one more time. Until I saw the price. You can lease the software, or you can buy it outright.
I don’t want to rent my software. I have no desire to go on to the subscription model. I want to pay for and own my own software, and do what I want with it. However, to buy Microsoft Word and Outlook, the two programs I use most often, I would have had to pay £80 a year for the rentable version, and £180-ish for the purchasing outright version – for one computer. That is shocking, especially considering the price for the Windows 10 operating system is around £80.
 I started looking around at word processing alternatives, and I've found some applications that suit me far better. I'll be talking about them in another post.
How could Microsoft have kept my custom? They could have given me a simpler program, or the ability to buy the features that I want. They could have given me a chance to buy the programs I wanted, instead of sticking me with programs I never open. Access? I think I opened it once. They could have slimmed it down, given me some of the features I wanted, like tabs, and the ability to export into epub and other formats. Made it a buffet instead of a big sit-down meal with a fixed menu.
So bye-bye Word, bye-bye Outlook. It's been good to know ya. 
I will miss a few things. The ability to move a date to the calendar with a drag and drop, and the extensive note taking. Macros (I haven’t yet found a way of importing all my Word macros into another program). But are they important enough to pay a premium price for a collection of features I’ll never use?

I think you know the answer to that.