Boy, I'm frustrated. That frustration has led to me delete every Microsoft product I own from my Mac. It was not a decision made lightly either, and it cost me about $120. The company I work for in 'real life' depends on Microsoft products to power servers, write documents, give presentations, develop databases, and send e-mail. Of course, we are also a 100% Windows/Intel shop. And in that environment, you can't go wrong using Microsoft. As a matter of fact, I like and appreciate using Microsoft products,

It is unfortunate that Microsoft, with all of its resources, doesn't 'get' the Macintosh. Mac software is an afterthought for the company, and a poorly implemented afterthought at that. The frustration I mentioned above is a result of my current project: a redesign of my web site to make it easier to maintain. (My typing skills have always been abysmal, but as the ALS progresses, I need all the help I can get.)

In my redesign, I discovered Dynamic HTML (DHTML), which allows you to do some really neat stuff, like pop-up menus. Unless, you're using Internet Explorer on a Mac. The engineers at Microsoft implemented DHTML in IE under Windows 95, Windows 98, and NT. But, Internet Explorer on a Mac must be similar to a red-headed step-child. Not only does it not run DHTML, it causes my Mac to work erratically and freeze up, sometimes necessitating a hard reboot.

So my Mac G4 is becoming a Microsoft Free zone. I am removing Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and the Gold version of Microsoft Office 98, along with Encarta. I was a bit concerned about maintaining compatibility with the rest of the world, and worried about losing the capabilities offered by Office, primarily Word and Excel functionality.

Word and Excel are the world-standards for word-processing and spreadsheet applications. They do it all, no question about it. But, then I started thinking about what I do in a word processor. And you know what? 95% of what I do could be done with a simple text processor like SimpleText or Notepad. Occasionally, I'll get fancy and use an outline. Then I looked at my spreadsheets. Hmmm...formatted text and down- and cross-totals. Pretty darned complex...NOT! And I'll bet that most of you reading this have similar usage habits. I am switching to AppleWorks 5.0.4, and have an order in for AppleWorks 6.0. That is $79 from Apple, and you can probably save some money if you order it from a mail-order house. It combines six core capabilities: word processing, page layout, painting, spreadsheet, database, and presentations, into one application. By contrast, Microsoft Office 98 (Regular Edition) for the Mac lists for $499 at Microsoft's site. And you get a word-processsor, spreadsheet, and presentation package. Hmmm... With AppleWorks you get 6 applications, and with Office you only get 3? For almost 632% of the price? What on earth is going on here?

Can you say feature bloat? Can you say price bloat? Sure, the applications are filled with capability, but so what? What good is capability that is never used? Why pay for it? The other $40 I spent was on DataViz' MacLinkPlus Deluxe v11.0. (The $40 is an upgrade price, but anyone with Mac OS 8.5 [and earlier] can qualify. MacLinkPlus used to come with every Mac.) Now I can read any word processing or spreadsheet document (so incoming documents are covered), and I can send documents in compatible format too. MacLinkPlus is a very capable product that works with the 'Save As...' option to save files in a multitude of formats.

So, I'm proud to say that my Mac is now 100% Microsoft free! I'll revisit this stance when all of the products that I really use at work (like Access) run equally well under either operating system. But I'm not holding my breath...