Freedom is at Hand 

Technology is changing fast. Ten years ago, desktop computers for home use were considered frivolous and unnecessary as there are abundant internet cafes in Bratislava, Slovakia's capital. Today, it's unthinkable if you don't have any type of device that has internet access, email and any form of instant messaging. Being landlocked in Central Europe, communication is paramount in daily living here.

Thankfully, technology is slowly shifting and changing to mobile smartphones and other handheld devices. As you can very well imagine, we depended on open source software for the longest time as authentic Microsoft and Apple products come at a hefty price on top of shipping. Because of this, Slovakia has become one of the biggest supporters of Linux software. After smartphones were first available at the Polus City Center in Bratislava, hope finally sprung thinking that one day, we would be free from the clutches of Microsoft forever. It's also encouraging to know that phones running on Android platforms have underlying Linux programming and also operate on a free market for its apps. Integration of programs to smartphones became a necessity even among online giants like partypoker sk. Poker is very popular here and various parts of Europe. Since casino memberships can be quite expensive and tedious to actually visit, the online poker community thrived in Slovakia. Apart from promotions and referral programs, the site also gives a seat for the biggest poker tournament in all of Europe, the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker. It's good to know that our love for the game of poker survived after the economy took off in 2007. Unemployment was at its all time high during the 1990's and poker was our constant companion.

With less people investing in bulky desktop PC's and expensive laptops, smartphones became an all-in-one equipment in these modern times. While most of our beloved PC games remain trapped in their current platform, we hope that similar high end games would be developed one day for hand held devices. I have no qualms in abandoning my PC if not for the obscene amount of time I spent on my MMORPG's and FPS games. In any case, our hopes are pinned on the smartphone programmers who are constantly coming up with new ways of integrating games with high graphics and are relatively cheaper than the PC games selection on the app market.

We all knew it was coming and I'm glad that I will live to see freedom from the OS giants of our time. One day when people look back on this, I sincerely hope that the people who worked so hard in making sure open source enterprise survived will get a formal recognition in our digital history books. With all our love from Bratislava.

PDF in MS Office

From Microsoft Monitor (an excellent blog covering the Redmond giant’s activities):

There is going to be quite a bit to blog about today, with respect to Microsoft. First up, Wall Street Journal reports that closed-door discussions have broken down between Adobe and Microsoft over PDF. Microsoft had planned to incorporate PDF in Office 2007. I haven’t confirmed anything with Microsoft, but the story suggests that Microsoft would remove the PDF feature–at least in Europe and quite possibly everywhere.

Quick recap: Microsoft alleges that after four months of discussions to use PDF in Office 2007, Adobe has demanded its technology’s removal. Microsoft claims that Adobe wanted Microsoft to separately offer PDF and charge for it.

A good time to point out to all that offers PDF export right now.

Desktop publishing packages are a big help when you want to produce a document that is a little too complicated for a word processing package. A newsletter, or school newspaper, for example. Maybe a poster. Anything which mixes your text with a large amount of graphical content is bound to be better handled in a dedicated DTP package than a word processor.
A number of Windows PCs are supplied with Microsoft’s effort in this field, Publisher, and while there are some superior entry level DTP apps out there (Serif’s PagePlus springs to mind), most people would baulk at shelling out cash on something they already have for free.

Linux users at this point will be jumping up and down, screaming “Scribus!”, and quite rightly so. It’s an excellent, fully-featured DTP package, and what’s more it’s free.

Well, Scribus is also available for Windows (and for Mac, for that matter). It’s in beta, but is perfectly stable for home use. All you need is to download a couple of files, install them, and give it a go!

Over on the Office Evolution blog, Marc Orchant writes about a very interesting office package, ThinkFree Office. Orchant points out what makes ThinkFree different:

ThinkFree’s strategy differs from pure-play online offerings. They offer three different local versions of their software that work in concert with the online version of their suite which provides word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications that look and work very much like their counterparts in Microsoft’s suite. Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux platforms are supported. A desktop version (the Download Edition) of the suite is available for $49.95. More interesting is the Portable Edition ($49.95) for U3 flash devices which allows you to carry the suite with you for use on any computer. This mobile version, combined with the online service present one of the more compelling alternatives, in the truest sense of the word, to Microsoft Office and it’s current PC-centric work model. An iPod version specifically for creating, viewing, and displaying presentations, ThinkFree Show ($29.95) is also available.

Providing both an online and desktop based solution is certainly an innovative approach - offering the speed and reliability of the desktop with the accessibility and opportunities for collaboration that online applications provide.

Some light relief

Witty series of short movies explaining various reasons for buying an Apple Mac. Not recommended for Windows users unless they’ve been retrofitted with a sense of humour. The movies are clearly inspired by Umberto Eco’s celebrated essay arguing that the PC was a Protestant machine whereas the Mac was undoubtedly a Catholic one.

We’ve been putting in some work behind the scenes to make the site more useful for visitors.

One of the issues that has come to light is that people would like a place to put forward queries, questions and cries for help; as well as an area to share best practice and other tips.

So, we have created a set of forums. Please feel free to post on any topics on which you have a view, or about which you have a question. If you have previously registered with the blog then we’re afraid you will still have to register on the forum.

There has also been a change of look as well as an uprade to the latest release of WordPress. Hopefully these changes will make Living Without Microsoft a better experience for its users.

Browser Comparison

If you want to see what the various web browsers have to offer, why not check out the list on Wikipedia?

There is masses of information on there, giving you a chance to make a really informed choice.

LWM Guide

A new feature has been added to the site, namely Living Without Microsoft: A Guide for Windows Users. This will be the first of many, offering more in depth articles for those wishing to make the switch from Microsoft software.

If you have any comments or additions for the article, leave them in the comments here!

The AJAX Office

ajaxLaunch is a site notifying us all about the latest releases in the range of online office applications which are the brainchild of Michael Robertson, the chap who brought us all Linspire - a Windows-user friendly linux distro.

So far we have had ajaxWrite, a word-processor; ajaxSketch a drawing package aimed at diagramming and flow charts; ajaxXLS, a spreadsheet; and ajaxTunes, a music player. Also included on the site is eyespot, which is an online video editor.

ajaxLaunch will announce a new package each week though, so it is well worth keeping an eye on.

These are intended as direct competitors to MS Office, and indeed other desktop based Office suites, rather than trying to outdo the likes of the excellent Writely or IRows. That is to say that the files that these programs produce are saved on your desktop or network - not online. This means that one of the principle benefits of online working - the ability to collaborate with others on a document - is missing; and also that you have to carry your USB key around with you still.

I guess nobody outside of Microsoft knows, but this quote from a column by the well-known commentator John Dvorak is interesting:

Researchers are reporting that as many as half of the business-owned PCs in operation now may not be capable of running Microsoft Vista.

Bill Gates and piracy

Bill Gates is predicting that software piracy in Asia will be largely under control in ten years’ time.

Well, they ought to be able to manage it by then, assuming, of course, that it turns out to be a desirable business goal to exclude so much of the world from your products. If so, then there may be many millions more people living without Microsoft!


This site is designed to help anyone who wishes to explore the possibility of living without Microsoft software. We aim to build a resource which will be informative, impartial and accessible to non-techies.

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