We all know the rules of Betteridge’s Law, right? It’s a law that can be applied to article headlines. If a headline ends in a question mark, the answer is ‘No.‘
That works for me. Does the personal computer world need more Microsoft Office? Let’s go with ‘No.’ The problem here is that much of the business world relies on the Office standards to share files of a similar format. Otherwise, you can get by with ‘No.”
Way back in the day, back to the yesteryear of the last century, Microsoft was in a heated battle with IBM; think Windows vs. OS/2. Office was a carrot dangled before users to keep them on Windows and not stray elsewhere. The strategy worked and Office became the de facto suite of applications for business, academia, organizations, and people with enough money and time to wade through the world’s largest collection of features that never were used.
Office 2019 is kinda sorta mostly available now if you have a commercial volume license. Microsoft calls those Trusted customers. Everybody else gets access soon. What’s new? It doesn’t matter. Honestly, other than Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite of Photoshop, Lightroom, and a dozen other applications for a monthly subscription, I don’t know of a suite of apps with more features.
From what I can tell after a few workdays checking it out, Office apps have more of the same. Features. Updated features. Word gets a distraction free mode, new text-to-speech functions. PowerPoint has new zoom capabilities, easier methods to manage 3D images, and Pencil works better (for touchscreen PCs). OneNote, actually a decent favorite in the office, gets new ink-to-text, better sync, and easier note taking options.
Here’s the problem with more Office.
Most of us already have too much Office. Every app in Office is more complicated and complex than ever. That requires more online classes just to keep users up to date. Microsoft makes access to Office an easy option for business with an annual subscription that is easy to budget for, and there is a cottage industry that trains employees on how to use the latest features.
That’s the problem. Too many features, few of which are intuitive, and most of which are typical Microsoft which wins the annual More Bolted On Features award 12 of the last 20 years (Adobe won the other eight; Apple is a no show).
Office’s success through the past few decades has less to do with features and more to do with file compatibility which makes it easier for employees to share files because most files are of the same format. Most? Yes. Most. Even Office versions are not all able to share the same formats, and newer versions make the rat race even more challenging to maintain compatibility.
Did I mention ubiquity? Sorry. My bad. Office runs just about everywhere important. Windows PCs, Mac, iPhone and iPad, and Android devices. That makes it the one feature laden suite of business applications that goes about anywhere. That’s the claim to fame. Oh, and FOMO. Fear of missing out. Business just bite the bullet and go along for the ride because they’re afraid of the upheaval that would be caused by dumping office and moving elsewhere.
Are there alternatives? Yes. Here are the 7 Best Alternatives to Office. Read ’em and weep because they range from free to about $30.