Top 10 Microsoft Alternatives

By | June 1, 2007
Microsoft Alternatives

As many of you probably already know, there are a number of excellent and often superior alternatives to Microsoft software. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s vast market share and practically unlimited financial resources keep these products from ever seeing the growth they deserve (even those with superior products).

Fortunately, you can choose to think for yourself and find your own alternatives….often better and cheaper ones.

Here are ten of the top Microsoft alternatives available today.

1. Replace Internet Explorer with Mozilla Firefox.
If you haven’t already ditched IE by now, what are you waiting for? Mozilla Firefox makes an excellent replacement to its Microsoft counterpart. Firefox is a leaner, faster browser. Some of it’s notable features include tabbed browsing, a pop-up blocker, built-in search and a variety of extensions to enhance your browsing experience.

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2. Linux
Linux is one of the most popular alternatives to the Microsoft operating system. Linux was initially created as a hobby by a college student named Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Today, Linux is used by individuals, schools, and even governments who are looking for cheaper alternatives to Microsoft. Some of the popular Linux operating system distributions for home users are Fedora and Ubuntu. It’s got all the applications you need – a web browser, word processor, presentation software, instant messaging, and much more.

3. Mac OS X
The Mac OS X is another popular alternative to the Windows operating system.

Because of it’s popularity, there’s plenty of software available for it. If you’re into graphic design, then the Mac is really the only way to go. Because it uses Unix technology, the Mac OS is more stable and secure than Windows. The real beauty of this system is the interface, which epitomizes Apple’s innovative design work. It’s quite stylish and easy to use. The capabilities and features of the Mac OS X are beyond compare.

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4. Replace Windows Media Player with iTunes
In case you haven’t heard, iTunes is really the only game in town when it comes to media players. If you’re still running Windows Media Player, you’ll definitely want to try out the many powerful features of iTunes.

5. Replace Outlook and Hotmail with Gmail
Nothing can match the power of Gmail. Although Hotmail and Outlook have improved some over the years, I doubt that they will ever catch up to their Gmail counterpart.

6. Replace your Microsoft Office Suite with OpenOffice
It’s hard to escape Microsoft Office, but there are alternatives. One of the most popular of these is known as OpenOffice. OpenOffice is an excellent alternative for those looking for a full featured office-suite, including software for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, and more. Find out more at OpenOffice.org.

7. Replace the Microsoft Run command with Launchy
Using Launchy, you can forget the run command and start searching for programs on demand with a single key press. Launchy is a smart search program, which tries to guess which program or file you are looking for as you type. Once you have found the correct program, hit the enter key to launch it.

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Launchy is an excellent tool for finding programs and files without having to open up the run command, search through the start menu. or search endlessly through different folders.

8. Replace Microsoft Sound Recorder with Audacity
Replace Microsoft Sound Recorder with Audacity and add some power to your recording activities. Audacity is a free tool with lots of features. Audacity allows you to record live audio, change the speed or pitch of a recording, and add a variety of effects. Quite simply, this program is an audio playground. Use Audacity to cut, copy, splice and mix sounds together.

9. Replace Microsoft Disk Defragmenter with Disk Defrag
Disk Defrag allows you to run even faster defragmentation of your hard drive to keep your computer running as smoothly as possible.

10. Replace Microsoft Paint with Gimp
Gimp is a powerful, free alternative to Microsoft Paint. It’s the perfect solution for anyone looking to retouch personal photos and remove-red eye. It’s also packed with more advanced, Photoshop-like features, such as layers, alpha channels, and a number of plug-in options. Find out more at Gimp.org.

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If you know of other Microsoft Alternatives, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at The Optimized Life. Read her articles on What’s Your Learning Style, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, Do You Need a Braindump, What They Don’t Teach You in School, and Free Yourself From the Inbox.

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

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