Monday, January 14, 2008

Office Song and Dance 

Yes, I did buy an HP desktop, to answer the previous commenter (why do you ask?); I've been happy with HP products for several updates now, thefts and cracked cases aside.

Today I bought a new network adapter (which, the Linksys product, looks like a fat flash drive rather than the cabled box with a little antenna) and successfully connected to the internet. Et cetera, Windows updates and Norton antivirus activation, et cetera.

Then I started installing real software. I use three components of Microsoft Office virtually every day -- Access, Excel, and Word, in approximate descending order of use -- and have upgraded versions of Office at every opportunity. I haven't purchased a fresh install of Office since I can't remember. This means I purchase upgrade versions to load on top of previous installs, or, with new computers, to install on top of qualifying products, typically Microsoft Works, which usually comes pre-installed.

This time, trying to install Office 2007 didn't work, first because it didn't recognize the pre-installed MS Works. So, I tried Office 2003. Same issue. Tried Office 2000. (I've done this before, having to install old versions of Office and then cascading upgrades.) Office 2000 worked. Install complete. So, then back to Office 2007, which now installed on top of Office 2000. Fine.

Except that it wouldn't 'activate', because MS keeps track of how many computers you've installed their software on. I'd installed Office 2007 not only on my now hobbled laptop, but I'd also loaned the s/w to my partner's two boys, one in high school, one at university, who'd installed the s/w on *their* laptops. What is the limit? I ended up phoning MS help, who informed me (in a typically Indian accent) that the limit was one desktop, one laptop. Hmm, well, I seemed to have already violated that rule; but I told the MS help person that I'd just uninstalled it from one of the laptops (my partner had just phoned his older boy and had him uninstall Office on his laptop -- he's about to migrate to Mac). I had thought MS had some magical database that keeps track of installs and uninstalls, but I'm not so sure now that the MS help person said OK! to my story, and read to me a lengthy activation code which, finally, activated the install of Office 2007.

So... so far, so good. Now I'm copying data files. (I notice how difficult new PCs make it to see, in Windows Explorer, your C drive. They want to hide it beneath layers of personal Documents.) Next task: transfering Outlook mailbox files and activating the pop3 mailbox on the new PC. That, probably not until tomorrow...
I got a new PC in December, pre-loaded with Vista... and discovered that my desktop publishing software wouldn't work with Vista, nor would many of my games, etc. Plus, the machine ran just as slowly as my several-years-old machine, though looking at the hardware it should have been blazingly fast. So I wiped the hard drive and (with considerable effort) installed XP. Now it runs incredibly fast, and everything still works. I'm sure I'll have to upgrade to Vista at some point, but I can put it off a few more years...
I like HP products, too (I'm the person who asked if you purchased an HP desktop). My son bought a new notebook (yes, HP) with Vista before heading off to college and he's less than enthused about Vista (slower and pestier than XP). Most of my work is word processing tasks and basic Web development (HTML, JavaScript, etc.) so I'm debating whether or not to try the iMac with OS X. I use Adobe products (Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Flash) which are applications that have been rewritten to be native to the Intel processors now found in Macs.
I've read more positive comments about the new OS X and iMacs than about Vista. I think Apple's "PC Guy vs. Apple Dude" commercials have struck a chord with people like me who need to replace their 5year old computers, but are on the fence whether or not to try Apple. In the end, it's about which applications you need to do your work. Good luck with your new PC . . .
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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