First of all, kudos to Lee Koo for running such an informative forum. I've been a subscriber for quite some time now. This is the first time I've felt moved to chime in on a discussion.
I have been using Google Docs since June 2006, and have been very satisfied. Personally, I have had no problems with Google. I was sick and tired of Microsoft's stranglehold on productivity software. MS's prices are premium and their planned obsolescence forces us to buy new versions. "Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence in industrial design is a policy of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time." Microsoft has sucked BILLION$ out of consumers by using planned obsolescence.
Documents created on newer versions of Office often cannot be opened for reading or editing on older versions. MS Works is no alternative -- Word docs are not compatible with Works for example. Same with with Excel, Powerpoint, etc. You get the picture.
I mainly use Google Docs to create Documents and Spreadsheets, but you can also create Presentations (a la Powerpoint), Forms, Drawings, and Tables. Any of these can be downloaded to your hard drive, as well as being shared with others in the cloud (with password protected privacy control). Other can be limited to reading only or be allowed to edit documents. All user's edits are tracked, and you can see who changed what and when the changes were made. Google Docs can also be converted to the PDF format (for free).
Google has continually improved the functionality and features over the past six years that I have been using these products. Best of all, this is FREE productivity software. Why pay for something that you can get for free? Microsoft spends a huge amount of money on advertising and marketing -- that's what you're paying for when you buy their products. I don't see a future in this model. I've been able to function quite well in business and at home without paying Microsoft's inflated prices for almost six years now.
For those who don't "trust" Google, or cloud computing in general, there are still FREE alternatives to Microsoft Office products. openoffice.org offers full-featured, open-source productivity software that is available to download and use for free. It is mostly compatible with MS products. MS has tried to make it incompatible in the past in order to continue their near-monopoly on the productivity software market.
Now I only wish a practical alternative to MS Windows existed. MS has had a monopoly on operating systems since the early days of the PC.
No, I don't work for Google. I am a person who isn't into throwing away my hard earned dollars. I do not fear Google docs or openoffice.org. People are resistant to change and Microsoft is well aware of that. If you're happy throwing your $ away, feel free to continue to do so.
For me, and many others, Google Docs and/or openoffice.org have proven to be a viable alternative to Microsoft's productivity software.
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