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Reverse Upgrading

I came across this interesting blog post about uninstalling MS Word and never ever using it again.

http://stevenpoole.net/blog/goodbye-cruel-word/

It’s a nice read, though it’s basically a love letter to the new brand of hipster full screen anti-word processors like Writeroom and Scrivner. (These products seem nice for someone who a.) gets to use a Mac at work and b.) must crank out X number of words a day. I am neither of these people. But I would gladly try out Scrivner the next time I had a big giant piece to write, like maybe a big project proposal)

Poole writes about how MS Word has gotten bigger and bigger and more and more cluttered over the years. He writes about how hard it has become to actually write with Word any more.

This resonated with me pretty hard. I have been facing the same kind of decision.

I am using the 30 day iWork trial at home and I find that Numbers meets all of my personal and business spreadsheet needs. I don’t do any serious number crunching at home. I’m not an accountant (ahem: There’s no accountin’ for me anyways. thank you.)

I need a spreadsheet for the three following tasks:

  • Clean up data for importing into a database
  • Simple home number crunching – like “what’s my bank account going to look like at the end of the month”
  • Creation of invoices for my freelance work.

Numbers does all this very well — and in fact does things like invoicing better because the result is so much more graphically pleasing. (I’ve tried purpose built invoicing tools. These are typically overkill for my kind of work, and you’re basically paying for a custom Excel template wrapped up in a wonky format anyway. That’s dumb. Oh, and Quicken sucks.)

My word processing needs are equally small. I need to:

  • Write a letter
  • Print an envelope
  • Write a résumé
  • Write up some short multi-page documents like a project proposal (which Pages has a nice template for)

So, basically I need about 1/3 of MS Office. I haven’t used Excel or Word in about a month or so, and I’m strongly considering just removing it from my computer altogether.

Pages and Numbers does everything I need it to. I don’t really need PowerPoint or Keynote. I suppose I might someday, and if I do great. (But I generally believe that PowerPoint is for marketing knobs and for real use*)

Another reason for me to move to iWork (or even NeoOffice) is that Microsoft isn’t going to have a Universal Binary version of Office until 2008. Then, if I’m lucky, I’ll have the opportunity to pay $300 for an upgrade that will run at normal speeds on my machine. Thanks, no.

In fact, there has only been one compelling reason for me to upgrade MS Office ever. The first version I purchased was for Mac OS 9. I bought an upgrade when a version for OS X shipped. That’s it. I think I’ve missed two versions maybe. I don’t know. The upcoming universal binary would have been the next compelling reason, but I won’t be doing that. iWork is universal binary of course, is available yesterday, and costs $79. An updated MS Office doesn’t exist yet, and will undoubtedly cost at least $300.

My only lingering doubt about yanking Office off my computer is that I know, I just know, somebody somewhere is going to send me some wonky Office document that Pages won’t open or something, and I’ll need office to use it. However, I do have NeoOffice installed — I can probably safely bet that if it won’t open in Pages, it will open in NeoOffice. And if it doesn’t open in either I could just request that they send it again in plain text format.

*disclosure – at work I advocate all “wireframe” or user interface documents be made in PowerPoint and hopefully saved to PDF instead of that horrible thing called Visio. People have Acrobat or PowerPoint on their machine. The lowly analyst who inherits the UI document can edit a PowerPoint file…but they may or may not have Viso and may or may not know how to use it.