Friday, August 29, 2008

SSC #75 They're not teachers, they're pushers!

I am so mad right now I can barely see straight.  So far three people have come up to me asking how to open the new Microsoft Office 2007 file formats on their current machines. 

Apparently, teachers at the local colleges have switched to MS Office 2007 and they've decided that you should to.  Some teachers are distributing assignments in the new format and their unwitting students are now forced to shell out between  $85 and $150 for the new MS Office Home and Student 2007 edition.  But wait, it gets worse.  Some are mistakenly paying more for other versions of the same software (possibly up to around $480 for the MS Office Ultimate 2007 Upgrade) when the Home and Student version isn't available at the store.  We're talking about an suite of office software that has the gall to charge $200 just for language packs. 

Does anyone still have any questions as to why I dislike Microsoft so very very much??

The one talent that Microsoft has demonstrated time and time again is not the ability to make great software, but instead the ability to make bloated locked-down drivel and make everyone pay through the nose for it!

I can understand making students buy this software if the class is called Learning Office 2007, or something like that, but no... these are just general computing classes.  General. Computing. Classes.

I've got it!  I've solved the whole national educational funding dilemma!  Teachers should start earning a commission for sales!  They're obviously doing the work of a massive sales force, they should get compensated for their hard work and treachery.

Teachers.  Listen up.  Stop it.  If you don't have to use proprietary formats, then DON'T DO IT.  OpenOffice is a full suite of software that will read and write to open formats that are not locked down from anyone.  Open office will also read and write to all of the old Microsoft formats.    And OpenOffice is just one of many free and effective solutions. 

After the big fight a little while back that Microsoft put up just to get their Office Open XML format accepted as a 2nd and unnecessary standard, you'd think they'd be a little more forthcoming with their new formats.  But no.  They're laying out the trough and we're all supposed to pony up the dough so we can lap it up.

Are you really happy with your Microsoft Windows?  About 80% of you probably just said "No".    If you're not happy, then why in the world would you want to support them financially?  If you keep feeding the monster, it will still be around next time to bite you where it hurts.

If you only teach someone how to use Microsoft software, then that is all they will ever know how to use.  This creates a mental dependency and allows a certain company to continually and unendingly put out high-priced junk.  Then three or five years later Microsoft decides to do it all over again.

People aren't buying Microsoft Office 2007 because they think it is great software, they're buying it because they have to.  This is the definition of a monopoly.  And its the teachers who are enforcing this monopoly power.

If you teach someone a wide variety of software--even if it is all for the same task--then they learn the fundamental concepts involved, not just the specific locations of options and tasks in one single solitary program.  One single solitary program that they'll just make obsolete in five years anyway for the sole reason of making more money from all of us sheep.

People go to school to learn how to make more money.  When they're going to school, they generally don't have that much of it.  If they had loads of money, they'd probably not be in school, they'd be out having fun spending it.  This practice is bordering on extortion, and its perpetrated against a group of people who are doing all they can do to better themselves.  Teachers engaging in this practice should be ashamed. 

 Teach Microsoft Office.  By all means, teach it.  But don't JUST teach that.  And do NOT expect everyone to buy it.  Do NOT treat it as gospel. Distribute assignments in an open format so that people can use whatever software they like to use at home.  If they're taking a class that is specifically centered around MS Office 2007, then its a completely understandable requirement.  But don't increase the coffers of a malignant company for no good reason other than that you upgraded to the new version because you heard they finally got rid of that stupid talking paperclip.

Stop being a pusher.  Otherwise, teachers, you need to get in touch with Microsoft Corporation at (425) 882-8080 and ask them where your check is.  Its obvious that you're working for them, you're just not getting paid.

Students, I'm not sure about the other formats, but you can use an online converter to convert the 2007 .docx format to the older .doc files.  You can find it at

There may be converters for the other ones, so you don't necessarily have to give in.  Geeks all over the world are working on your behalf, so just be patient.  Alternately, you could simply tell your teacher just how unfair these new formats are.  If enough of you ask, maybe they'll come to their senses.

For ANYONE needing a good FREE office suite, if you're not locked into Office 2007 by boneheaded practices, go to

From their site: " 2 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages"--more than 18--"and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose."

And if you would like to get away from Microsoft COMPLETELY, come down to the Sprint store in Russell Springs on Saturday, September 20th.  Bring your tower and you can get free installation, configuration, and customization of Ubuntu Linux, as well as free software for Windows, including OpenOffice.  Its all virus free, spyware free, and cost free folks.  Avail yourself of this chance at freedom while you can.

If you have a question or comment, feel free to email me at

If you'd like to read my past articles, browse to

If you live in Russell County or the surrounding areas and you need help fixing your computer, give me a call at (606) 219-4088 to set up an appointment.

1 comment:

Owen said...

I got pissed when a local hardware distributor gave me their price list in xlsx format. When I requested .xls they sent me an e-mail with the subject "Old format price list". The odf converter plugin for open office is rather handy some times, and actually rendered the docx better than the "old format" file.

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