Recently, I switched from a Mac back over to Windows, and as some of you may know, it was actually pleasant experience.
However, things were not always great, not because of my choice in hardware, which can cause some grief, especially when one wants to tinker with their computers, but because of another factor in the computing experience.
That other factor is the software that runs on it.
Today, I will be discussing the importance of choosing the right software.
Like buying a computer, getting software for it is not such an easy task.
Now, I know plenty of you are probably rolling your eyes, face palming, or yelling at me behind your screen, saying that one can just download whatever programs they want, whether they pay for it or not.
I was very much in this camp when I got my Surface Book and decided that I would use open source software because the program's I planned to use, like GIMP, Inkscape, Scribus, and LibreOffice, were available without needing to pay a dime.
Unfortunately, over time, I realized that at least one of those was not really viable for me to really be satisfied with my computer, because I was using it both tablet mode, which Microsoft calls Clipboard mode, and in laptop mode quite friendly, especially for my writing needs.
GIMP worked as intended, Scribus was not that big of a deal, since doing print formatting really is best done with a laptop or desktop, and Inkscape in pretty much not known at this point.
The problem in workflow was LibreOffice.
While it did everything that I needed it to do and nothing less, it was only really usable whenever I was using my computer in laptop mode or with an external display.
The reason for this is because the only way to scroll in tablet mode is the sidebar, using the arrow buttons or dragging or clicking right where you wanted to go, which requires the use of the Surface Pen.
Yes, some people have come up with script and I could theoretically implement touch friendly gestures, though with my knowledge and skill, is not really possible, but such things do not really work out perfectly.
After all, we are heading into a time where touch friendly interfaces are much more common than they once were.
If I had really done my homework on the software that I was planning to use with my new computer beyond the cost, which I should have, since I am aware of quite a few more things that the average computer user, I would have been able to see that LibreOffice was not going to completely feel my needs with the computer I chose.
It would have only worked out well if I went with a Zareason Chimera 2, instead of a hybrid computer like the Surface Book.
Noticing this fact, I knew that I could not stay on this path of using software that was free on every sense of word, not just in price, like most of the world, and decided to check out Microsoft Office again at the local Microsoft Store, despite hating the ribbon that Microsoft has been using since Office 2007.
Upon trial in the store, I liked how I could type things up in Word with having to resort to the Surface or change keyboard layout like I did with LibreOffice, though I still needed to manually bring up the keyboard myself, and since I had been using Microsoft Office for much of my time as a Mac user, and even my days using Windows 2000 and earlier, I decided that it was better for my computing needs that what the open source world could give me.
Some of you guys may be saying,
ThatÔÇÖs blasphemy! Why are you supporting greedy scumbags like Microsoft?, but Microsoft is not doing things as badly as they have in the past with mishaps like Windows 8 or keeping good software only for themselves, seeing as they released Office on iOS and Android and creating links in Word on the iPad is far easier than it ever was in iWork.
Besides, some software is worth paying for, though sometimes pricing can be ridiculous, such as Adobe, according to the pricing page, charging either $50/month or $500+/year for individuals to get access to all of their apps, and not paying those who do a good job is just plain wrong.
After all, would a professional really use Word or PowerPoint or some other word process or present app to create something that will look great on the printed page?
Yes, I do know of a few people that do that, and while PowerPoint may be better than Word for print layouts, it is not necessarily that great because PowerPoint was meant for creating presentations and, as far as I know, cannot have page dimensions specified or even layer different objects, so that one can temporarily disable aspects of a project that do not need to be modified.
Not only are tasks easier with the right tools, but just like our elders, we too will reach a point in our lives where we are set in our ways and the younger generation will be looking down upon us, as well as try to get us to learn the things that they know, which means all these software and hardware companies that my generation loves or hates will continue to thrive because the tools that they make are what we are used, much like how Microsoft Word is the dominate player in the writing and academic fields, despite the fact that LibreOffice is quite good for most people on computers that do not have touch capabilities.
Of course, people do go out and get software just like they buy their computers.
However, this is not the approach one should ever take.
Numerous experts in the tech field already advise people to be skeptical of everything online, regardless of the operating system one uses, in addition to the overused statement of popularity being the driving force behind what gets targeted most often, though in the days Apache and IIS were the top two web server software, Apache supposedly had less attacks than IIS, despite the fact that Apache was more prevalent on servers, and just because something is free does not mean it is the right tool, nor is it the case that just because everyone else is using it is the right tool for you too.
As such, I think people need to research the software that they use before going out to get a computer, even if it means trying the product out in stores or via virtual machines, which will tell you if you can use the free alternatives.
By doing this, one can find out if the product really works on the operating system you plan to use and if it fits how you use your computer, much like I found out the hard way that LibreOffice did not fully meet my needs, even though it did pretty much everything else.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you agree that people should try to find out if a piece of software will work for them, before taking price into consideration, or is the price more important than the features of the product? Do you have a similar experience to mine of when you chose the wrong software? Feel free to comment.
Use an app on your phone (e.g. Scan for Android) to capture the image above. If successful, you should be taken to the web version of this article.