Tip of the Day: Try Microsoft Office Online

Tip of the Day: Prefer “docx” Over “doc”

Is a Microsoft Office Subscription Worth It?

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What’s this business with renting software? It might be fine for businesses, but I can’t afford to pay every year for the foreseeable future. Is it that much better that the payment is worthwhile?

When Microsoft introduced Office 365 as an annual subscription rather than a one-time purchase, I had the same reaction.

Then I did the math.

It turns out it’s a pretty good deal.

Read moreIs a Microsoft Office Subscription Worth It?

Footnotes & references

1: All prices quoted are as of this writing / update.

How Do Outlook and Outlook.com Relate?

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I use Outlook.com. Does that mean I don’t need Outlook? Are those just other names for the same thing? If not, how do they relate to each other?

The short answer is, they don’t. Not at all. They have only two things in common: they’re both related to email, and have the word “Outlook” in their names.

That’s pretty much where the similarity ends. It’s frustrating, because people often refer to “Outlook” when they mean “Outlook.com” … which is not actually related to “Outlook”.

Let’s define ’em, shall we?

Read moreHow Do Outlook and Outlook.com Relate?

Why I’m (slowly) Switching to OneDrive

I’ve been using Google Drive and Google Docs for several years. With the addition of functional (albeit somewhat crippled) versions of the applications on my Android mobile devices, it’s a quick and easy way to have documents with me wherever I might be. Add to that the ability to share documents with my assistants, and it’s become a valuable resources in how I handle my data.

I recently started playing around with Microsoft’s offering. They, too, now offer somewhat crippled versions of actual Microsoft Office programs for free on both the web and mobile, including my Android phone, integrated with their online “cloud” storage offering, Microsoft OneDrive.

But there’s something fundamentally different about Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online, something that has me now in the process of slowly switching to OneDrive, and potentially even shifting some of my other files from DropBox while I’m at it.

It’s all about backups.

Read moreWhy I’m (slowly) Switching to OneDrive

Footnotes & references

2: It doesn’t have to be Microsoft Office. It could be OpenOffice, LibreOffice, or any of a number of programs that understand the Microsoft Office file formats.
3: Though I have not once been able to get it to work if I include my email. The resulting file is too big and the downloads consistently fail.
4: Full disclosure: as a Microsoft alum, I get it at a discount. But, in my opinion, it’s still a bargain at full price.
5: And in full “belt and suspenders” style, the PC copies get backed up yet again as each PC is, itself, backed up nightly.

Do I need everything installed by Microsoft Update?

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When I go to Add or Remove Programs, I see dozens of updates to MS Office 2007 and MS Office 2010. I do not have either of these products on my computer. Can I safely remove these updates?

Unless you have some reason to believe that they’re causing a problem, I would not.

The issue, like the software involved, is complex.

Read moreDo I need everything installed by Microsoft Update?

Is OpenOffice a Viable Alternative to Microsoft Office?

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I was thinking about purchasing Microsoft Word, which I had on my last computer. I need it occasionally to make lists, etc. I think it costs around $100 or perhaps even less. I don’t need Office, etc., just Word. I happened to read this article on freebies and it mentioned something called Open Office. So, I need your suggestion. Is this something I should download or am I better off purchasing Word? I assume that Open Office works the same as Word.

Open Office, now more formally Apache Open Office, and the very similar Libre Office, can be an effective alternative to Microsoft Word and even some other Microsoft Office applications.

Whether or not it’s a solution that works for you depends on which applications you use, how you use them, and most importantly, with whom you might share your documents.

Read moreIs OpenOffice a Viable Alternative to Microsoft Office?

Footnotes & references

6: The reverse is also true: current versions of Microsoft Office can read and write Open Office’s native file formats.

How do I get Office if I’m on dial-up?

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Leo, I’m still on dial-up and I’m quite happy with it for all I do on the net or with email. However, I recently bought a new desktop for my wife and this one comes with Windows 8.1 in 64-bit so most of the programs we use with Windows XP, 32-bit, do not work anymore with a 64-bit version of Windows 8.1. My wife mostly needs Microsoft Word and Excel, which is incorporated into the Windows Works program which we are willing to buy.

However, this program is about 800 MB large and to download it on dial—up would take about a week. The computer store told us that Microsoft would be selling this program on a CD and they gave us a telephone number to call. We called Microsoft; they’re telling us that they do not have a CD for this program. Now, what’s someone living in the sticks with only dial-up supposed to do? The store would not do the downloading and put it on a CD either. I never thought about the possibilities about 32-bit versus 64-bit when I bought the PC. Would you have any idea how to get around all of this?

There’s a little bit of confusion in the question and I want to clear up as much of it as I can.

I think that the problem has nothing to do with 32 versus 64-bit. Most 32-bit programs actually run just fine in 64-bit Windows. I use many 32-bit programs myself on my 64-bit installation of Windows 8.1.

The problem really might be some confusion around the program called Works.

Read moreHow do I get Office if I’m on dial-up?

Is application-provided encryption secure?

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Hi, Leo. I searched your site and several other websites but could not find the exact explanation that I’m looking for. I’ve been keeping all of my personal financial information and website passwords in an Open Office spreadsheet that is saved with a long, complex password. From what I’ve been reading from your site and others, that spreadsheet is maybe not a secure as I think it is.

My question is – can anyone using sophisticated hacking software see the data in my file without breaking the password? In other words, if I have a relatively complicated password, shouldn’t I trust that as being secure? I find it very convenient to copy and paste login information from my spreadsheet. However, if I someday lose my portable backup drive or it’s stolen or if someone breaks into my home when I’m away, then could someone easily see the data in my password protected spreadsheet file? I assume, of course, part of this equation is how sophisticated the potential thief is and how much of a target I am perceived to be?

There’s a part of me that really wants to say that you’re safe.

In general, I’m not a big fan of using spreadsheets for passwords, but I know a lot of people do for saving that kind of information. And with a complex and lengthy password like you’ve said you’re using, in general, it should be safe to use a password-protected spreadsheet in a utility like Open Office, Microsoft Office, or any of a number of other applications that provide password protection for their documents.

want to say that is safe.

Unfortunately, history does not really bear that out too well.

Read moreIs application-provided encryption secure?

Why Is a Message Stuck in My Outbox?

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When I send an email, the message goes to my outbox, but it stays there. I can’t send the message from my outbox.

In an email program, the outbox is a holding area – a place where messages go after you click Send and wait until the program can forward it to the mail server. The outbox helps you do other things in the email program, so you don’t have to wait for the mail server.

Let’s talk about the outbox. Many different email programs use an outbox and because you didn’t say which email program you’re using, I’ll use Outlook in my examples.

Read moreWhy Is a Message Stuck in My Outbox?

Can I move Office 2010 to another computer?

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Can I move Office 2010 to another computer? I’ve got it on one computer and I want to move it to another. If I uninstall from the first, can I just use the setup again and install in on another computer? I really don’t want to have to buy it again.

Most licenses allow you to do pretty much what you’ve described. You’re allowed to have Office installed on one computer at a time. You will need the original installation media that you used to install Office 2010 the first time.

I’ll walk you through it.

Read moreCan I move Office 2010 to another computer?

Why Does the Size of My Office File Grow Excessively after I Make Simple Changes?

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I received a PowerPoint file that was 6.3 MB in size. Now I didn’t touch anything in the file. The only thing I did was translate to English. Nothing else. When I finished, it was 30 MB. Can you explain that? I’ve got Windows 7 and Office 20007.

There are a number of different things that go on when you save a complex file. And yes, Office documents (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files) are incredibly complex documents in even the simplest of cases. They have a number of settings, options, and even formatting that can impact what these programs save to disk.

There are many things you can do to keep the file size from exploding. Here are a few of my suggestions.

Read moreWhy Does the Size of My Office File Grow Excessively after I Make Simple Changes?

How Many Machines Can I Install a Single Copy of Microsoft Office On?

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I wanted to know if we’re allowed to use a legal copy of Microsoft Word (legally meaning I purchased the disk) on more than one computer. I switched computers and now I need to install it on a different computer than the one I’d been using before. The old computer is still active. Can I re-install on my new computer? Will it recognize and allow me to use the product key?

If you’re moving from one computer to another, the answer is easy. But if you’re adding an installation, the answer isn’t quite as clear.

Read moreHow Many Machines Can I Install a Single Copy of Microsoft Office On?