Ken Laster's Home Page

To be... Microsoft Free

Gates as Borg

Resist, do not have to be assimilated
Would you trust your computer to THIS GUY!
Dance MonkeyBoy (movie 3mb)

I welcome your comments regarding this site.

What is the purpose of this site?

To provide a resource for those that are looking for a Microsoft-Free computing experience.  So many people are under the impression that it is necessary to use Microsoft products in order to share information over the Internet, or to exchange documents with other users. This is simply a myth, initiated by Microsoft and perpetuated by corporate IT managers and others. At first, I  thought that stripping my new laptop of any vestiges of Microsoft code would be a difficult venture. Perhaps I would not be able to view certain media files, that I would open spreadsheets or presentations to view a mass of unformated garbage on my screen. Not so! The process was simple, and the ability to find stable, compatible, feature rich alternatives to Microsoft's bloated, ugly, crash prone products was easier than I imagined.

What is so wrong with Microsoft Products?

Here are a few of the reasons for boycotting Microsoft:

What are the Alternatives?

In the summer of 2003, I purchased an Apple Powerbook, and decided to make it a Microsoft-Free computer. OS X is the Operating System I felt most comfortable with, and one that allows me to easily network and share files at home and the office while pursuing my MS-Free experience. The products described below are in use with my Powerbook and OS X. While researching this piece, I found that Linux OS is another viable alternative. As I do not have much experience with Linux, or a computer to test these products, I have not included them here. In the future, I hope to expand this site with a similar table of Linux software as an alternative to MS. I would welcome a Linux user to contribute that information to this page.

Microsoft Product
Microsoft Windows
(XP, 2000, Milleneum,
NT, W98, ad nauseum.)
Mac OS X - Apple's latest operating system is based on a Unix foundation with the Aqua graphical user interface. It is elegant, stable and has the ease of use that Apple is famous for. Integrated into Apple's hardware and OS are technologies not yet included with Windows (e.g. Rendezvous zero config networking, 802.11b-g wireless networking, Apache web server, Quicktime, PDF). Best of all it comes with a host of revolutionary applications (Mac only) that are brilliantly designed to ease your digital lifestyle. These are the iLife apps; iTunes (with iTunes Music Store), iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, iCal and iSync.

At the core of the OS is the Unix implementation called Darwin. Apple has released Darwin's source code to the OpenSource community. Darwin open source projects allow developers to customize and enhance key Apple software. Through the open source model, Apple engineers and the open source community collaborate to create better, faster and more reliable products. In contrast, Microsoft is closed and proprietery.
Microsoft Office
(Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access)
Google Docs offers web based office apps, that goes beyond MS Office with sharing and mobil access to your documents. This is the future of the common office applications. (OOo) - OOo is a product of the OpenSource community. It is an integrated suite of word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and graphics programs. Several years ago Sun Microsystems released the source code of their Office Suite called Star Office to developers to port to several different operating systems for free distribution and development. It is an incredibly feature rich program that also has file compatibility with MS Office documents. It will open and save Word and Excel files far better than any other competing software claiming compatibility with MS Office... and it is FREE! On the Mac, it currently runs on X11, a Unix based windowing system. So the interface is more Unix-like than the standard Mac OS X environment. OOo also runs on Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris OS's.

Neooffice is currently the best implementation of OOo for Mac OS X. It does not require running under X11, and uses your current Mac fonts and printing services.

If you need a robust database, FileMaker Pro is a superior alternative to MS Access. FMP is cross-platform (Mac & Win), has a point and click scripting language, and a Web publishing feature that can put your database on the Web with a click of the mouse.  A free open-source database alternative for experienced programmers is MySQL.

iWork - Create, present and publish your work in style. Keynote delivers stunning, interactive presentations. Pages word processor has all the tools you need to create graphically rich documents. Numbers offers a graphically rich, full featured spreadsheet.
Internet Explorer
MS forced this weak, mundane, feature deprived browser on the world, and made it the defacto standard through unfair competitive practices that landed MS in court and convicted for anti-trust violations. Yet it continues to have overwhelming market share and is the standard that all web pages must be tested against for compatibility. There are many other superior products to chose from on all platforms. To name just a few... Opera, Firefox,  OmniWeb, Camino, Safari. I choose to use Safari, and Firefox. Safari offers faster rendering of pages than MSIE, and tabbed browsing. Seamonkey is a fine basic web page editor (this site was created with Seamonkey). Firefox, Seamonkey, Camino and many others are products of OpenSource and are free.
Windows Media Player
mplayer for OS X - Another product of Opensource, this media player was written for Linux and ported to OS X. It plays almost any media file including MS's WMV AVI, and DivX.

VLC is another great free cross-platform media player
Outlook Express - Apple's email client has all the features you need to organize and deal with your email efficiently. It has an incredible Junk Mail feature that uses "adaptive semantic analysis" to filter out Junk. You train it... it learns.
MSN, .Net, Hotmail
.Mac - Apple's unique internet services are so robust and varied, that it would be difficult to explain them here. Click on this link to learn more. Yes it costs $100/yr, but the services are worth it IMHO. Web page authoring and hosting, Internet file storage, webmail, are some of the features. One of the overlooked features is the ability to use the Internet as an intermediary to syncronize your calendar, contacts, bookmarks and files between several computers, PDA's, and the Internet. Its really an incredible service if you can utilize all the features. Lots of free software and other giveaways for .Mac members.

Other Resources

Living Without Microsoft
How to become Microsoft Free
Microsoft Boycott Campaign (MSBC)
We're turning off your Office (article David Coursey, ZDNet)
We Can Put an End to Word Attachments

Lists of sites
Anti-MS Webring
MSBC Superlist
Yahoo list of Anti-MS sites

Microsoft and Geek Humor
Getting a Windows refund in small claims court

Questions or comments, feel free to email me.

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