Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Breaking Your Dependence on Microsoft

Here is an article about How to Get a Windows Tax Refund. This refers to getting a refund for the price of the Windows operating system (known among Linux folks as the "Windows tax") that is passed through into the cost of any PC you buy.

This got me thinking about Microsoft's hegemony in the personal computer software market and what chances there are for breaking through it.

Apple's market share for retail PCs is up to about 14%, which is pretty good. Still, many of those machines end up running Microsoft software. Specifically, MS Office seems to be the big, ubiquitous beast.

If you want to end (or at least lessen) your dependence on Microsoft, try some or all of these solutions:
  • Ubuntu replaces Windows: Linux used to be for only the most ambitious turbo geeks. Installing it meant knowing more than anybody should ever know about hard drive architecture, video drivers, and disk partitions. That has all changed. With distributions such as Ubuntu, anybody can install Linux with just a few clicks.
  • Firefox instead of IE: I have liked the Mozilla browsers forever. Firefox has great features and superior security.
  • gmail instead of MS Outlook: gmail's contacts feature is much-improved and synchronization with my blackberry is finally possible. I can access my gmail from anywhere (including from my BlackBerry,) and I really like the labels feature.
  • Google Docs instead of MS Word, MS Excel: Now, I can write, read, print, and share documents without using MS Office.
I still use a PC for media management (iTunes for music, Picasa for photos), but once I get comfortable with the Linux tools that are out there (yes, I have heard about Amarok and Picasa for Ubuntu), Microsoft might have no hold on me at home.

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