In a previous post, I was wondering what was the difference between having to pay protection money to a bagman who works for Tony Soprano, and having to pay, every year, again and again, 100 dollars to Microsoft for the current edition of Microsoft Office.
As most people know, Microsoft Office 2013 is no longer sold as software that you buy and own. Instead, what they now sell is a temporary license that must be renewed every year at the full cost of the original price for software that will work only on 1 computer. So if you use it for example for 10 years, Microsoft will deftly transfer 1,000 dollars from your pockets to their pockets rather than only the money corresponding to the one-time charge of a measly 100 dollars as was the case up until now. If you have 3 computers at home as many people do, Microsoft would legally steal 3,000 dollars from you based on this ingenious strategy …. provided that hapless Microsoft Office users will put up with this greedy scheme that is based on Microsoft Corporation’s insolent and warped, monopolistic vision of the world.
One way to deal with the unbridled greed of Microsoft is to switch to “free office” software, which is what my son did several years ago. That is what he is using on his Mac now, and he will probably never need to buy anything from Microsoft. Two free office software applications are available, one at openoffice.org, and one at libreoffice.org.
Another option is to go back to WordPerfect Office, which is what I did.
I am writing this post in WordPerfect which I purchased last week from Amazon for a whopping 48 dollars, including the shipping cost. WordPerfect Office (the edition “for students”) can be installed on 3 computers, possibly more than 3 because WordPerfect does not force new users to “authenticate” the product online once the correct installation code is entered during the installation.
In fact, just because you have legally purchased Microsoft software does not mean that it will continue to work even on a computer on which it has been authenticated or preloaded.
When I attempted to wake up one of my computers last year from the infamous “Microsoft’s blue screen of death”, I got a message that I was using an unauthorized copy of Windows and after many attempts to revive the moribund hardware sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of Microsoft (there is no appeal against this court), I had to junk that computer, which I bought a couple of years prior to its untimely demise courtesy of Microsoft at BestBuy, although the cost of Windows was of course included in the price that I paid for that computer.
Unlike Microsoft Word, which is incredibly counter-intuitive, WordPerfect seems to be anticipating what it is that I want to do, just like a well behaved, intelligent doggie is supposed to do. When I save a file, it is saved automatically in Microsoft Word (.doc) format. I can open it in MS Word format by simply clicking on the file, or in WordPerfect format if I open WordPerfect first.
Although I was using WordPerfect from 1987 until about 2004 when I finally made the switch, kicking and screaming, to Microsoft Word, in the meantime I have forgotten where some of the commands, such as insert hyperlink, are located in WordPerfect.
No problemo. I simply open the file in MS Word, insert the link, and then open it again in WordPerfect. It will probably take me a week or so before I become a proficient user of WordPerfect given that for the last 10 years I was a captive user laboring on the Microsoft Word plantation.
I was already able to solve several annoying problems that seemed unsolvable with Microsoft Word. One of them has to do with a weird font in some of my blog posts for which I am apologizing here as some readers already complained about it. Another one was a very complicated table in which the words became haphazardly truncated. There was no cure for the MS Word-inflicted mutilation – until I recreated the table in WordPerfect.
The thing is, although I always write my posts in the Times New Roman font, on one of my computers Microsoft Word converts it to an ugly, really horrible font. I have no idea why and because unlike WordPerfect, Microsoft Word lacks the “reveal codes” feature, I was unable to figure it out. It must be something in the initial setting of Microsoft Word, but fortunately, I don’t have to worry about the invisible traps hidden somewhere in the bowels of Microsoft Word settings any more.
The WordPerfect Office Suite that I bought for less than 50 dollars came with several other free applications: Paper Port Scanner, Presentations, QuatroPro, WordPerfect Lightning, most of which I will probably never use. It also included a trial copy of Corel PDF Fusion, which I may or may not decide to buy at some point.
The WordPerfect program that I have now opens PDF files automatically and gives me several format options for saving a WordPerfect file in a different format. However, saving a wordprocessed file in PDF format is not one of them. I would have to buy Corel PDF Fusion, again for about 50 dollars, to be able to do that. But since I have a standalone version of the Adobe Writer software, I don’t need this feature especially since I can also use the software that came with one of my printers to save files in the PDF format.
What I did need was something that would convert, as flawlessly as possible, PDF files in different languages to files in Microsoft Word or another word processing format, and the same software that came with the same printer actually does that – not quite flawlessly, but it is good enough for most purposes. I bought an Adobe license (which cost 20 dollars and I am able to use it on every computer) for converting PDF files to Microsoft Word files, which is very handy for example when I need to estimate the word count for a potential translation project.
The problem with the Adobe software is that this software only makes it possible to convert PDF files to a Microsoft Word format in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian or Japanese, and I often need it also for conversion to other languages. This week, for example, I needed it for Korean and Polish (and my Samsung printer’s software did convert it quite well).
I saw on blogs that many translators swear by the Abbbyy Fine Reader software for this type of conversion, so I downloaded a free trial copy of it. But it does not seem to work for conversion of PDF files to Korean or Polish. All I got was a graphic file, not a wordprocessed file, I am not sure why. So instead of using ABBYY fine reader, I am using my printer for conversion of PDF files to MS Word files in different langages.
Most of my customers are law firms, and it so happens that twenty years ago, most of my customers were using WordPerfect.
Here is to hoping that a few years from now, most of my customers will be using WordPerfect again, while Microsoft Word will be used mostly by stubborn Microsoft Word diehards who don’t mind being taken to cleaners by Microsoft, repeatedly, year after year, for every computer they have.
I think that the best way to fight the strong-arm tactics of Microsoft that remind me so much of Tony Soprano is to the following:
1. Download both a free (such as OpenOffice) and a cheap (such as WordPerfect) replacement for Microsoft Word,
2. learn how to use the basics of both of these programs and stick mostly with the application that you like the best,
3. while keeping an old copy of Microsoft Word on one computer to check documents for seamless compatibility before they are delivered to customers who still use only Microsoft Word.
In 2014, about 6 months after I wrote this post, pointy-headed wise men in Microsoft decided that MS Word customers who have been sentenced to renting this software in perpetuity from Microsoft would be henceforth allowed to use this software on up to 5 computers!
They are so nice to us, aren’t they? Although I wonder why. Was this the plan from the beginning, or did Microsoft change the rules because there was a mutiny in the air?
We still will have to pay for the software (which used to be something that we owned once we paid for it) in perpetuity, year after year to Microsoft because they really need our money every year, but now we can install it on more than 1 computer.
God bless their generous hearts!!!