Its all in the software … Operating Systems and Office Suites

You’ve got a machine and you’ve got an operating system , but its the software that make that machine and operating system do what you want them to do.

We’ll talk about what software we use  … and link to information about it. Incidentally another upcoming post “Its all about the hardware” will be along those same lines only for hardware.

Today we will address PC software … we will have a separate post later on Web Apps.

Operating systems

Vista Ultimate

Vista Ultimate

We use Vista Ultimate because it came with the system. Vista home premium is just fine too. We recommend you stay away for any other version. Vista home standard can not join a domain.

Vista is a more secure XP … they changed navigation and dressed it up pretty. There are some added features we do like , the search on the start menu. We turned off User Access Control which reminded us of shareware nag screens of years past. If you are a novice user it is best to keep it on.

XP sp3!

XP pro sp3

We love XP pro … works with everything and we all know how to use it. We think there is no compelling reason to get Vista but if it came with a machine don’t throw it out. XP Professional is our choice although we do have 1 Media Center and 1 Home.

XP home or Media Center can not join a domain.

Now if you want to buy it on your new PC from Dell you have to pay $50 for the downgrade … pardon my French but “That Sucks”.

Media Center

Media Center

We love Media Center too. It came as a version of XP and is included in Vista. The features in Media Center allow you to do many things … watch and record TV on your PC , Stream video across your network .. and much more. Media Center in part contributed to the current trend of TV moving to the Internet. Unfortunately there is still some DRM involved in Media Center.

We have 1 XP Media Center and 1 Vista with Media Center.

Windows Home Server PP1

Windows Home Server PP1

Windows Home Server is terrific. Its not something your Mom could handle but if you are fairly geeky you can do it. We run it on a Dell Dimension E310 with two 750gb sata3’s internal and two 400gb sata3’s on external usb drives as the drive pool. We have an external 500gb sata3 for direct file backups. So 2.8tb total.

We use it to store and stream videos, music, pictures, TV and backup the 5 other PC’s in the house. We use the Netgear Digital Entertainer HD eva8000 to view those on the HDTV.

Office Applications

Office 2003

Office 2003 Pro

We use Office 2003 Professional because its the current version most company’s are using today. Many companies are still using Office 2000. Office just integrates very well and is customizable. It is expensive and Microsoft is preparing to let you buy it as a service for $70 a year which is less than the purchase price. If you are a teacher or student you might search for a cheaper education version. Also if you are a non-profit check out Tech Soup for discounted software. Although the suite includes several titles … aside from  business most others only use Word and Outlook … maybe a few Excel.Most new versions of Office don’t work with previous versions and you have to download a converter or compatibility pack. That’s a real hassle for business as many users don’t inherently have the administrative permissions to install those.

Free Office Alternative

Free Office Alternative

Open office is a free alternative to Microsoft Office that has been gaining in popularity recently. We don’t use it but if you’re strapped for cash I would certainly recommend it as an alternative. You have to have something … because Windows notepad and wordpad just won’t cut it.

There are other options but we are not recommending them … Microsoft has Microsoft Works which is usually given away free as bloatware on a new PC. Don’t bother … just uninstall it. There is also StarOffice from Sun Microsytems and IBM’s Lotus Symphony .

As a side note for any of you getting a new pc loaded with trialware and demos you can run a program called pcdecrapifier that can uninstall all that for you.

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