"But I can't!"

It might seem like there's nothing you can really do at this point. Like many people, you're probably already using Windows on your computer (and may even like it). Your computer may have come with Microsoft programs pre-installed. You may have purchased some Microsoft programs already. You might have signed up for MSN internet access to get a cheaper "up front" price on your computer.

Don't worry... you're not alone. Not by a long shot. But you can still help keep Microsoft in its place.

Not ready to give up Windows? That's understandable; neither am I. Just don't buy the next upgrade. Although some new programs that don't work on Win95 are starting to crop up, most new software for years to come should run fine on Win98/ME. As for Windows XP ("Xtra Profit"?), it's actually a different operating system which will require you to upgrade a lot of your current software and probably your hardware as well if you buy the upgrade. It's the same with upgrading MS Office; the 2000 and XP versions offer very few new features... and XP's mandatory "activation" process is the first step toward Microsoft's new "subscription" model of licensing, where you have to pay every year to keep using it.

If you're want to switch to another OS but still keep Windows and the programs for it available, you can often set up your computer to run more than one OS (you pick which one when you turn it on). Or you can use tools such as VMware, Win4Lin, or VirtualPC to run both Windows and another OS on the same machine at the same time, enabling you to pop from one to the other with a keystroke or mouse click.

Don't have the money to buy a bunch of new software? That may not be an obstacle, after all. In nearly every category of software that Microsoft sells to the public, there's at least one (and sometimes dozens) of free alternatives. And this is one area where the rule "you get what you pay for" doesn't always apply. For example, some of these free programs are "labors of love" that someone has undertaken just for the satisfaction of doing it. Others are "Linux-like", the work of teams of volunteers who saw a need for a certain kind of software and set out to create it as a gift to the global computing community. And some are promotional "loss leaders", given away by professional developers to draw customers for their commercial products. Why pirate Microsoft warez (which doesn't really hurt them, since you're still helping to make their software more ubiquitous) when you can get legal software (usually with support direct from the programmers themselves) for free?

Need some of the new functionality offered in the latest versions of Word, Internet Explorer, FrontPage, etc? Wait a few months and see if the alternative products incorporate these features... and upgrade to them instead. (They might take a little longer to implement the new features; they don't have Microsoft's inside information about the OS and billions in development funds to work with, after all.) Software vendors sometimes offer inexpensive "competitive upgrades" to people using other companies' products. This keeps the money out of Microsoft's hands and gives it to someone who'll use it to increase competition, not eliminate it.

Work for a company that's "a Microsoft shop" and doesn't buy from anyone else? Do your research, and present a sound business case for alternatives. Try pointing out to management that the more they rely on a single vendor for all of their software, the more vulnerable they are to the whims of that one company. Explain the significant corporate risk that Microsoft systems present, since most viruses and cracker attacks are designed to exploit the countless security holes in ubiquitous programs like Outlook, Word, and Internet Information Server. Invite them to actually read the EULA (end-user license agreement) that's attached to Microsoft products, which effectively denies the purchaser any real rights (except to fork over cash whenever Microsoft asks for it). You might also gently point to the example of Data Processing managers who played it "safe" and mainstream in the 1980's, the folks who missed out and got left behind when microcomputers broke the old IBM/DEC/HP/NCR stranglehold on corporate computing. Microsoft calls their product line "software for the agile business", but it's really for the docile business, one that just buys whatever they're told to. Who runs your company: Bill Gates, or your boss?

Someone requires you to give documents to them in Word or Excel format? There's no valid reason for them to do so. If they won't accept documents in the format your software uses (their copies of Word and Excel can read just about anything), ask them to kindly provide the specs for the file format they require, so you can comply. (They can't, because Microsoft treats these formats as proprietary trade secrets.) If they tell you to just buy a copy of MS Office, tell them you cannot because your employer won't let you, or because Microsoft's end-user license agreement is too draconian (which it is). So ask them to identify an alternative, published file format you can use, such as PDF (Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format), EPS (Encapsulated PostScript), or RTF (Rich Text Format, an older Microsoft "standard" which actually is published) for word processing documents, or WK1 (Lotus) for spreadsheets.

"But how?" - "But why?" - "But why listen to you?"

All logos and product names are trademarks of their respective developers or distributors.
This site is in no way affiliated with Microsoft Corporation
© 1999-2008, Rzero.