Byte Me Article 350 – Software That Should Not Be Paid For

20th January 2018

No Such Thing As Free Office

This week we had another new customer come in with a PC that had stopped responding.  It had an operating system corruption which could not be fixed, however it had relatively good hardware as it was around 3 years old and had not been a budget PC when purchased.

The most cost effective solution was to back up the customers’ data, do a fresh clean install of Windows 10, reinstall the customers’ main software applications and then reinstate all of their data.  They supplied several disks which included a software package called Complete Office 2014.  We have seen this package several times before but I have not taken much notice of it.

In this case the retail price sticker was still attached and at $199.95 I decided to look a little closer.  Further investigation confirmed that they had indeed paid this amount for it at the time of purchasing their computer.  So what does this software suite offer?  It offers nothing extra to software that is readily available for free.

As most will know, Microsoft rarely ever gives anything worthwhile away for free.  This has long been the case with their industry standard productivity suite – Microsoft Office.  There have been many versions of this over the years and many different flavours within each version – but none have been free.

Microsoft Office includes such titles as Word (a word editor), Excel (a spreadsheet editor), PowerPoint (a presentation application), Outlook (an email editor) and others.  These have ranged in price from as much as $600 for a full suite for only one computer to as little as $200 for a student version which could sometimes be installed onto 3 computers.

While all of the Microsoft products have cost money, they have also offered very comprehensive and useful tools and excellent compatibility with both operating systems and other software such as accounting packages.  You get nothing good for free.

Every computer shop in the country will stock the latest Office offerings from Microsoft and the most popular current versions are 2016 Home & Student at $189 and 2016 Home & Business at $299.  Consumers should keep in mind that the student version here is not certified for use in a business and as such it infringes certain software agreements.

Getting back to Complete Office 2014 from earlier the shame of spending $200 on this package is that it is not Microsoft Office and it does not offer anything like the compatibility or features of that product.  The other more concerning fact is that you can download the same packages for free.

If you Google the name LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice you will find legitimate websites that offer free downloads of their offerings which are exactly the same as Complete Office 2014.  Some of the biggest chain store retailers in this country still try to sell you these “knock offs” and this is as close to being a scam as you can be.

If you decide that the genuine Microsoft Office is not within you budget that do not get suckered into paying good money for any of these lesser office suites which are also available for free. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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