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To Microsoft or Not to Microsoft

Continuing with the set up of my new MacBook Pro comes the question of whether or not I install Office.

It’s not a matter of cost since I have access to a copy (legally!) through our district’s license.

And I certainly have enough memory and hard drive space, even for a bloated, clunky package like this one.

But do I need it?

For the most part I don’t use Word, instead doing my writing in TextEdit, Apple’s excellent text editor, and increasingly in Evernote and Google Docs.

I already have an older copy of iWork which seems to open the fancier Word documents I receive just fine and it has an excellent spreadsheet program that handles Excel just fine.

iWork also includes Keynote which beats the hell out of PowerPoint for the few slide show presentations I give.

So, why do I need Microsoft?

I know that eventually I’ll set up a Windows partition on this machine, mainly so I can access those few features of Outlook I can’t get to with the outstanding Exchange support in Snow Leopard.

Plus web resources created by our IT department that only run in IE and those occasional files that come my way created with Publisher, the lame attempt at a page layout program that comes with our version of Office.

Ok, I guess I’ve talked myself out sullying the Mac side of this new machine with Office. :-)

But if anyone can think of a good reason to install that package, I may reconsider.


  1. Tony

    Just say no! If you need a more robust Office package than Google Docs, install OpenOffice. It’s terrific! It will open and save-to Microsoft file formats as well.

    And tell you IT department to pull their heads out and stop creating IE only resources! There’s no reason or excuse for it anymore. And for those using Publisher (ugh…) have them PDF the file before sending it to you…

  2. Glenn

    Software and computers are a tool. If the tools you use now get the job done for you, then I wouldn’t add more tools. Unless you are a person who wants the tools so you can learn how to master all the available tools.

    Are you trying to master what you have? Are you trying to master all the available software? Do you care if you get a file occasionally that doesn’t perfectly translate between iWork and Word?

    Your answers to those questions will help you decide (IMHO). Being pedantic about what software to run doesn’t help anyone. It is a tool. You use the best tool to get the job done, and more often than not, the best tool is the one you know best.

    I have seen people create amazing Powerpoints with Office. I have seen people create utter garbage with Keynote. What you know is what you will use better.

  3. Doug Johnson

    Hi Tim,

    For those of us who travel, the standard Microsoft format for presentations is something of a safety net. Should my machine blow up while on the road, I am pretty sure I can find another computer that will do PPT. Yes, I can put stuff on slideshare or GoogleApps, but in many places, Internet is not a sure thing either.

    To belts and suspenders,


  4. Jethro

    Tim, I am interested to know what Outlook offers that you can’t live without. It is probably my ignorance fueling this, but Exchange support in Snow Leopard really is superb.

  5. Mark Rippy

    I’d have to agree with Tony. I have a MacBook Pro, and use iWork, Open Office, and Google Docs. I’d use Evernote, but our District blocks it. Since iWork will open docx files, and as your point out, Keynote is wonderful and will save as PPT files, why bother with the bloatware.

  6. Tim

    Thanks to everyone for the notes and suggestions. Glenn is right that it’s not about the tools but about finding the ones that work best for you. So I’m going to skip the Office installation for now.

    Jethro: the only major piece of Outlook that I can’t get to on my Mac is the public folders, a somewhat archaic system that we use for threaded discussions. Other than that, I could live without the Outlook client.

  7. Dave

    Whatever you decide, it’s a relief for me to know that somewhere out there, there are people asking these questions. Lately it feels like I’m always surrounded by “of course we’re going to use Microsoft products, what else would we use?”

  8. Zach

    Why use office? Perhaps aesthetics (which can sometimes be subjective).

    I’m an opensource guy. I run linux on my home computers, love firefox, freemind, moodle and the like. I tend to think Microsoft (and Apple) over charge for most. Openoffice and google docs do the job for basic word processing.

    But the thing is, I really like Office 2007. When I try and figure why, the only answer is that it makes my docs & ppts look professional with ease and intuition. I can get the other programs to do the same…it just takes more work. I know, pretty subjective. But if you like a program – well, you find justification in using it.

    My district gets copies for ~$20 a license…and for the cost, I think it’s worth it.

  9. Karen Richardson

    I know I’m late…but I’m right with you, Tim. After finishing my dissertation, I reformatted my hard drive and have yet to install Office. I’ve been getting along fine with iWork and Google docs. As for presentations, pdf is a great portable format that works pretty much anywhere.

  10. Jim Gates

    I installed VMware and Windoze XP on my macbook pro, but I don’t think I’ve used it even half a dozen times. If I had it to do over again I would have saved the money and aggravation and not bothered.

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