Puget Systems print logo
Read this article at https://www.pugetsystems.com/guides/459
Chris Stephens (Vice President - Operations)

Open Source Software

Written on March 21, 2013 by Chris Stephens


What if I told you that you could get a car, brand new, for free?

You would say it was probably junk...or a joke. But, this thing is real, people have spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours, building it and it's absolutely free. BUT there is a catch.

Ahhh, now the hoax is uncovered.  What is the catch?

There is no power antenna. Or rear view camera. Or heated seats. Aaaand the seats in the 3rd row are not power sliding. But other than that the basics are all there. Seat belts? Check. Power windows & locks? Check. Moon roof? Check. Stereo? Check. STEERING WHEEL?!?! Check.

I bet you would say that is a rockin' deal!  And you would be right; especially when talking about open source software.

When I came here to Puget Systems I was living on a software island. I had STRONG preferences for productivity software. If I had something to write it was done on Word. If I needed to talk about what I wrote I used PowerPoint. Email outside of Outlook seemed like the backside of Mars, totally unknown to me. What do you mean there is no Exchange server?!?!?! How can I possibly live without it? In a word: easy.

It all started when I decided that my computer at home needed to give MS Office 2007 the boot and I would need to upgrade to Office 365. Not being that excited to fork out $100 bucks a year (we paid a one time $100 last time, thanks to my oldest son being a live-at-home college student) I did what any of us would do: I grumbled at my monitor.

See, I get subscriptions for content, such as Netflix, Hulu or Spotify, but, I don’t entirely see the value when it comes to basic Office-type tools.  I will rent a movie from Amazon Instant, but I am not going to “subscribe” to my set of screwdrivers. Also, in my opinion, subscriptions are no excuse for a continual onslaught of patches. Even my coffee pot came with a warranty to fix it if it breaks. I mean Office, in my opinion, is a GREAT piece of software. The interconnected programs are getting a bit bloated (who really uses OneNote or Journal?) but overall I was a very happy customer, and still am with the software I already own. But, the idea of paying a subscription for what I consider to be the most basic of computing tools gave an opening to to the competition.

Now to make a long story short LibreOffice is the preferred choice of my office neighbor, Daniel. Microsoft Office (especially 2010) is a better program, no doubt. It has all the bells and whistles, so much so that I couldn't possibly come close to telling you all of the features at your disposal. But, for exactly 100% cheaper I can get about 90-95% of the way and THAT is an incredible deal. Some may disagree about my assessment in how far the free stuff gets me but remember: I am talking about features that people actually use.

I also want to be clear: free is not what did it for me. I am willing to pay. I understand great products cost money, trust me I get it, I work at Puget Systems.

So after internal debate I went through the steps of uninstalling Office and loading up LibreOffice, which is a piece of software that can be installed by Puget for no extra charge with your order.

So far, so good.

I miss a couple of features and if Microsoft releases a version of the basic Office Suite on the old pay model I *might* jump back. But my appreciation for Open Source software has grown. It challenges the status quo by pushing providers that charge for their products to deliver exceptional value. In that, I think, there is value for all of us.

Tags: open source, Office Libre, Microsoft, Office

Hi Chris,
I think that as software licensing gets increasingly restrictive (and expensive), more people will look toward open source solutions. I also believe that suites like Libre Office will continue to add features that will make them even more attractive.

I've used MS Office since v 4.0 (on Win 3.1) and currently use Office 2010 on both my Obsidian Workstation and Traverse laptop. Way back when, one could install the disc-based Office on your PC and laptop under the same license--no longer. If you want to use Office on more than one machine, you now have to opt for Office 365. This is something I am not in favor of.
Adobe is doing something similar with their products, as well. They want you to use the subscription-based solution(s). Personally, I like having the install DVD in hand, and it took a bit of effort to get Adobe to sell me a disc version of Photo Shop CS6. At least, I was able to install CS6 on both my computers and still be legal.
It will be interesting to see how things go in the open source vs. Big Behemoth vendors arena. For myself, Office 2010 and CS6 will work for me for a very long time, but when the time finally comes for a change, I'll certainly look for free or less costly open source applications.
I really enjoy reading the blog posts here at Puget Systems! Keep them coming!

Posted on 2013-03-24 15:55:17

Thank you for the comment, I appreciate it. I too was disappointed to find out the new licensing policy of MS Office. We have three machines in our house so the old licensing system was perfect. Plus, I always find the idea that you have a "choice", even though one alternative is highly unlikely to work, kind of condescending to the customer on the part of the vendor. I think we all agree that great, or even just good, software can be worth it. But, don't we all get the feeling that the model is now to bloat up these previously wonderful programs with unnecessary features in order to justify these prices?

A friend argued with me about my analogy of the wrench set. He said some wrenches are really expensive but they are worth it because they are much more exact and reliable for the mechanic who uses it every day. My response was: That's reasonable value, BUT, don't charge me twice as much because my wrench set looks like a Swiss Army knife now. I mean who has ever used that corkscrew to open a bottle of wine???? Although I imagine it is indicative of the good times to be had in the Swiss Army.

Posted on 2013-03-25 13:08:54