In an effort to lead more of a Microsoft-free (and cheaper, less bloated) computing life, I’ve had to find some alternatives to the usual MS software standards. So far it’s working pretty well, though there are a few compromises.
FIrst I dumped MS Word/Excel/Access months ago and installed OpenOffice instead. Less bloat and zero cost, baby! I’m not a power user of office-type stuff at home, just the occasional spreadsheet or whatever, so this is fine. I’m sure Open Office would be up to heavier-duty usage, though.
I also recently dumped MS Outlook for good. I haven’t used it for email for years, but I’ve had to keep it installed because that’s the only thing that crappy Windows Mobile wants to work with for syncing contacts and calendar stuff on my phone. I’ve looked at a lot of other software which claims to sync my address book (Plaxo) and my calendar (Google) with my phone, but most of it doesn’t work right and some even wiped everything clean a couple of times. But I finally found the right combination: Mozilla Thunderbird, Mozilla Sunbird, and a plug-in called Birdiesync. Here’s how it’s set up:
Plaxo Contacts < — sync — > Thunderbird < — sync — > Birdiesync — > Cellphone
Google Calendar < — sync — > Sunbird < — sync — > Birdiesync — > Cellphone
It’s more complicated than it should be, but oh well. Why can’t all these services communicate and play well together without so much stuff in between? They all do part of the job but not everything, it’s just silly. Maybe the problem is Windows Mobile being so anal about things. Too bad there’s no Linux option for Birdiesync, so if I ever got to the point where I felt comfortable ditching Windows altogether I’d have to find yet another workaround. Gawd!
So I’m still stuck with Windows XP, but I’m still playing with Ubuntu and I really like it, enough to set my PC to dual-boot between each OS. There was a pretty big learning curve at first since the Linux universe is completely foreign territory to me, but I’m much more comfortable than I was a year ago. It really is easy to use and tweak, without the bloaty overhead of Windows. But I just can’t ditch XP quite yet… I’m also still stuck with Windows Mobile for my phone, but Google’s new Android phone is looking more and more attractive with its open, accessible software. Will have to keep an eye on that!
Anyone else out there striving to lighten the MS load?