I was on the Office 12/2007 beta testing team, and got to use their product. And I admit that I became a fan of the new office layout and features. I’d recommend them over the previous Office versions, as long as there is the availability for some time due to the learning curve.
It took a couple weeks of using the apps on my laptop, desktop and even at work in some cases to get a feel for where certain features were located on the ribbon and even in the different window/menu structure. Also some new features were added that were helpful for being productive, but required some fooling with to figure out how to use them effectively.
But, as with all other things, it came to an end. The TR Beta 2 ran out at the end of March 2007. That meant I had to either pony up for the new version of Office, or sit there and hit the “you must uninstall this software” message every time I wanted to load the program. OR, I could do one more thing, that I tried to do a couple months ago – and move to OpenSource.
That is what I decided to do. I can’t afford the $250-ish price tag for legit Office 2007, and I’m not real interested in getting a cracked version of the software for a couple reasons – I don’t want to deal with the WGA hassle, and I’ve already used the software. So I moved to Open Office, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Mozilla Sunbird/Lightening.
My main tiff I had with Office was that it didn’t synchronize with anything. Sure, you could export your Outlook calendar to a web calendar with Office Online – but Office Online is gay – it requires you to use IE for things. It’s not necessarily that I don’t like IE, but that I have much more settings configuration invested in FireFox. But the calendars didn’t sync up or down automatically…and you can’t write to them and make changes in one place, and get it to sync to the other automatically.
Enter: Mozilla Thunderbird, Mozilla Sunbird, Mozilla Lightening, and the Provider plugin for Google Calendars.
I installed Thunderbird, Sunbird, and Lightening, and then realized I had the same predicament with them as I did with Outlook. So I went searching and found GCAL Daemon which worked great, but was a separate application. Today I found the Provider for Google Calendar plugin. This makes it much easier to manage your calendar and configure the settings. And it lets you read AND write to the Google Calendars.
So far, this has proved to be useful. I use google.com/ig as my start page at work, and I have the calendar add-on on that page – as well as my gmail account, and some other things. All this stuff is also sync’d to my laptop through Thunder/Sunbird/Lightening and the plugin, and the same with my desktop. It’s the connectivity I’ve been looking for.
I’m still trying to find a working way to sync my Google Calendar to my Windows Mobil 5 phone…I found FinchSync, but it gave java error until I configured it…now the two don’t connect. And it’s looking for a .ics calendar file to sync, but I don’t have one of those, since I’m syncing over the internet. So I’ll keep looking.
Anyway, that’s what I’m using right now to keep my communication channels in place in a world without MS Outlook.
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