So, You Want Office?

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Office is an office suite whose software manufacturer is Microsoft. The vast majority of home computers have the Windows operating system installed by default. Therefore, Microsoft does its best to sell its own office software for its Windows users.

In 1998, Windows 98 computers had at least a basic version of Office installed, that included Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Today (2020), what comes installed is a version of Office that works for 60 days, so that Windows users get used to using it. Then, they would need to purchase a license to activate the software.

The problem is that once a Microsoft Office user has generated documents and saved them in Microsoft’s proprietary format, he or she believes that they can only use that software specifically to open them. So he or she goes to a trusted computer technician to see if he or she can “get Office.”

In most cases, a technician installs Office and delivers the computer to the Customer. What the Customer does not know is that to install Microsoft Office on a computer, a license must be purchased to activate it. It must be purchased from a store that sells genuine licenses, or from the Microsoft Office website. Technicians often install an illegal copy of the license on their customers’ computers to get easy money for the work.

Section 2c(ii) of the Microsoft Software License Terms for Office 2019 prohibits publishing, copying, renting, leasing, or lending the software. Microsoft doesn’t want its proprietary software to be shared.

2. Installation and Use Rights.
c. Restrictions. The manufacturer or installer and Microsoft reserve all rights (such as rights under intellectual property laws) not expressly granted in this agreement. For example, this license does not give you any right to, and you may not:
(i) use or virtualize features of the software separately;
(ii) publish, copy, rent, lease, or lend the software;
(iii) transfer the software (except as permitted by this agreement);
(iv) work around any technical restrictions or limitations in the software;
(v)  use the software as server software, for commercial hosting, make the software available for simultaneous use by multiple users over a network, install the software on a server and allow users to access it remotely, or install the software on a device for use only by remote users;
(vi) reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the software, or attempt to do so, except if the laws where you live (or, if a business, where your principal place of business is located) permit this even when this agreement does not. In that case, you may do only what your law allows; or
(vii) when using Internet-based features you may not use those features in any way that could interfere with anyone else’s use of them, or to try to gain access to or use any service, data, account, or network, in an unauthorized manner.

Microsoft Office Home & Student (one-time purchase for 1 computer) costs $149.99.

Office 365 Personal (annual subscription for 1 user) costs $69.99 per year.

Office 365 Family (annual subscription for 6 users) costs $99.99 per year.

If someone installs Microsoft Office on your computer, without you having paid for the license itself (I don’t mean labor), you would be in violation of the Microsoft Software License Terms for Office, which is illegal.

Instead use LibreOffice, a free alternative that can open Office documents that have their formats published.

According to The Document Foundation’s Blog Post on February 2, 2022:

LibreOffice offers the highest level of compatibility in the office suite market segment, starting with native support for the OpenDocument Format (ODF) – beating proprietary formats in the areas of security and robustness – to superior support for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX files. In addition, LibreOffice provides filters for a large number of legacy document formats, to return ownership and control to users.

Microsoft files are still based on the proprietary format deprecated by ISO in 2008, and not on the ISO approved standard, so they hide a large amount of artificial complexity. This causes handling issues with LibreOffice, which defaults to a true open standard format (the OpenDocument Format).

Italo Vignoli
The Document Foundation Blog
February 2, 2022

According to The Document Foundation’s Blog Post on March 3, 2022:

The LibreOffice 7.3 family offers the highest level of compatibility in the office suite market segment, starting with native support for the OpenDocument Format (ODF) – beating proprietary formats in the areas of security and robustness – to superior support for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX files.

Microsoft files are still based on the proprietary format deprecated by ISO in 2008, which is artificially complex, and not on the ISO approved standard. This lack of respect for the ISO standard format may create issues to LibreOffice, and is a huge obstacle for transparent interoperability.

Italo Vignoli
The Document Foundation Blog
March 3, 2022

Various modifications can be made so that documents created by other people in Microsoft Office look similar in LibreOffice, and vice versa. Other changes can also be made so that the buttons on the toolbar appear similar to the “ribbon” in Microsoft Office.

Download LibreOffice today. It costs no money and guarantees you the four essential freedoms of free software.

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