There is one constant in the world of technology:  Change.   And times are changing!   We live in a world now that is more accessible and “cross platform” than ever before.   With the improvments and innovation with the Internet and cloud computing, it is possible to be more productive than ever before without the need for costly, brand name software suites.

Read on as I explain why and how you can be Microsoft free.

1) You don’t need Microsoft Office for word processing and spreadsheets

Several alternatives to Microsoft Office exist that offer full functionality and cross-platform compatibility for no cost at all.  The three most common are Google Docs , and LibreOffice.

The first one is hosted completely in the Google cloud, meaning the word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software operates entirely inside a web browser or mobile app, and all files are stored in their cloud.   The biggest benefit to this is you have access to, and the ability to edit everything you’ve created on any device, anywhere in the world all for completely free with a Google account.   Hint: If you have a Gmail account or an Andriod phone, you already have a Google account.

The other two function in a more traditional way of having the software installed onto the physical computer, and the files you create are saved on the hard drive of the computer you are using.

Either way you go, you can have user-friendly and relevant office productivity software for without having to pay for an expensive copy of Microsoft Office.

But if you simply must have Microsoft Office, but don’t want to pay, they do have a free option too.   Similar to, and in competition with, Google’s completely internet based productivity suite, Microsoft released Office Online in late 2014.   Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are now able to be used, for free in your web browser and on any device with the use of a free Microsoft account.   Do note, that the software can only be operated within a web browser, and your documents are stored in Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud, this is a relatively new, viable option for office productivity.

2) You certainly don’t need Microsoft Outlook for E-mail

One thing we see all to often in Redline’s computer repair shop, is people using Outlook  for their personal or small business email.   While Outlook can be a great Email client in the business world, there are far better (and less expensive — read: FREE) options for individual Email.    Microsoft Outlook was designed to be used with Exchange email, typically found in medium to large business, and functionality for your typical individual or personal email accounts was pretty much an afterthought.   When Outlook is used in POP3 configuration, it creates a large, encrypted data file on your computer that stores all of your email, contacts, calendar data and task lists into this enormous file.   That file is prone to becoming corrupted, causing frustration and potential lost data, and often incurs repair costs.

There are several alternatives to Outlook email, including free Email clients such as Windows Live Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird that offer great Email functionality for small business or personal use.

An even better option, is to leverage the cloud by using a hosted email service, and many options exist.   Hotmail (Microsoft), Gmail (Google), or Yahoo to name a few.   Redline also offers hosted email service for individuals or business for a small monthly fee.

3) You don’t even need Windows

What was that? Blasphemy!

It’s true, though.  Home and small business computer users don’t necessarily need to have Windows based PC any more.   Mac, ChromeBooks and even some versions of Linux are completely viable alternatives to Windows.   Though, not for everybody, there’s a chance you might be able to fully break free from Microsoft all together.

 Need help? Call Redline Computers!

Redline Computers is a computer company in Billings Montana whose goal is to help people with their technology.   Think of us as a technology wellness center instead of a computer hospital.  Sure, we will repair your computer if it breaks, but we are also passionate about helping you understand your technology and assisting you with using it in the most efficient way possible.   If you want more information about alternatives to Microsoft, cloud computing, computer repair or even virus removal in Billings, Montana, just give us a call at 406-839-2216.


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