Microsoft Office 2003

I’m starting to get questions about Microsoft Office 2003. I’m taking a look, but my initial advice is this: Try a free office suite first. MS Office is ridiculously overpriced— it can cost up to $500, depending on the version ( http://www.microsoft.com/office/editions/howtobuy/compare.mspx ). That’s more than some entire low-end PCs, and more than most operating systems, including Windows itself. That’s insane!

Plus, MO3 only runs on Windows 2000 and XP. If you have an older PC with WinME or 98; or if you want to try Linux or a Mac, MO3 is a very bad choice. In contrast: A FREE suite like Open Office ( http://www.openoffice.org/ ) runs on Win98/ME/NT/2000/XP, Linux and Macs, and is happy on older hardware down to ancient Pentiums with just 64MB of RAM— one tool, many platforms, zero cost.

There are a few nice new features in MO3, but nothing I can see that justifies the ridiculously high costs. With decent alternative office tools available for free or for much less, MO3 makes sense only if your current office tools no longer meet your needs; and/or if none of the free or lower cost alternatives will work for you; and/or if you can somehow get it as a low-cost, below-retail upgrade or bundle. Outside of those conditions, I see no reason at all to move to MO3.

And even if you think MO3 might be what you need, don’t fork out the big bucks until you’ve tried one of the trial versions to make sure MO3 really will do what you need. The trial versions are time-limited things, but can be had for the cost of shipping and handling— $8. See http://www.microsoft.com/office/trial/default.mspx for details.



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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.