Tired of paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in licensing fees to Microsoft? Tired of constantly having — or feeling like you have to — upgrade Microsoft Office? Tired of Outlook problems and buggy software? You are not alone. More and more, entrepreneurs and small and mid-sized business owners are ditching Microsoft Office and going with open source (e.g., Linux or Ubuntu) or cloud- or Web-based (e.g., Google Apps, OpenOffice, Zoho) office computing options.

My husband, Kenny Schiff, an entrepreneur who runs TPC Healthcare, a small but growing healthcare communications IT and services company based in Connecticut, is a case in point. Kenny, who currently has around a half-dozen full-time employees, and an equal number of contractors, had had it with Microsoft Office. He’d had it with the bugs. And he’d had it with the licensing fees.

Being pretty tech savvy, Kenny decided to try an open source office solution — in his case, Ubuntu. He started small, on a spare computer at home, learning Ubuntu and playing around with it. And, I have to say, having observed the process, it wasn’t as easy as some folks make out, but eventually Kenny got Ubuntu successfully up and running — and made the switch. And he is happy he did. Which got me thinking: This would make a great article for Small Business Computing, one of the great small business-focused publications I write for!

As it so happened, another writer, Drew Robb, was working on a piece for Small Business Computing titled “Open-Source Options for Small Businesses,” which I HIGHLY recommend you read if you are at all interested in open-source solutions.

As for me, I had hit pay dirt in my quest for small business owners who ditched MS Office in favor of cloud- or Web-based office solutions like Google Apps, OpenOffice, and Zoho. Indeed, shortly after posting a query on Help A Reporter Out (aka HARO), I heard from dozens of small business owners who were unhappy with MS Office and ditched it in favor of Google Apps, or OpenOffice, or Zoho, or some other “cloud” office solution. Unfortunately, I was ultimately¬† only able to use three of them in my article, titled “Small Businesses Find Silver Lining in Cloud Computing: Entrepreneurs discuss the pros and cons of ditching Microsoft Office for Web-based office tools.” However, their experiences are typical of what other small businesses owners were telling me.

So if you’re thinking about ditching MS Office and wondering whether free (or inexpensive) Web-based office suites from Google, OpenOffice, and Zoho are right for you, please read my article (which is short) and learn what Karl Schmieder of MessagingLab, Ryan Waggoner of MightyBrand , and Rick Batchelor of Qiigo had to say. You’ll be glad you did.

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Agree100% on 5 May, 2009 at 7:57 am #

I agree 100% with this article.
I use Open Office and have Xubuntu on my other machine.

By the way, for ANY “Rookie” to Linux, I would suggest Xubuntu—it’s a trunk development off Ubuntu.

Any distro of Linux you want either Ubuntu (or a Trunk off Ubuntu) as it’s FAR AND AWAY the NUMBER 1 distro.
(Check Distrowatch.com for Updates).

Xubuntu is a MUCH easier switch over from Windows.
(My Dell desktop worked OUT OF THE BOX install with Xubuntu–meaning the Hardware Drivers were already pre-installed—SOMETHING MICROSOFT CANNOT EVEN MANGE TO DO!!!).

Ie when you do a clean/re-install of Windows, you have to dig out your Dell Driver Disks for Microsoft to work (ie. the Network, Video, Sound, etc.).

Xubuntu did this OUT OF THE BOX–on a 100% CLEAN/Wiped Drive.

Would highly suggest “rookies” use this Distro (vs. Ubuntu).

Besides, once you have your Browser, (Open Office), an Internet connection and Sound—you don’t need much else to be PRODUCTIVE!!!!

Good luck to all!


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