Bundled Software #2

This week I received the following e-mail in response to my article last week regarding useless software which is ordinarily bundled with any new computer.

“Hi Chris, I’ve got a couple more suggestions for you…

Avoid: Microsoft Office 2007

Why?: Its annoying interface is a step backwards in usability and as usual Microsoft have put even more bloated junk in thereWorse still, they attempt to up sell features like SharePoint to get the customer into expensive server software.

Superior Alternative: OpenOffice.org 3 (www.openoffice.org) which is available for Windows and now natively for MacOS X and Linux. It’s free and does the job perfectly well and it’s compatible with all current and previous Microsoft Office formats.

Avoid: Microsoft Outlook Express

Why?: Like Internet Explorer, it’s prone to security vulnerabilities and it wouldn’t think twice about e-mailing everyone in your address book if the user were to open a dodgy attachment.

Superior Alternative: Mozilla Thunderbird (www.getthunderbird.com) - Like Firefox it’s much more secure by default, it has a more intelligent spam filter and can be expanded with add-ons (such as the really handy Lightning Calendar add-on).

I wonder if you might be worth pointing your article readers in the direction of www.theopendisc.com where they can find a whole load of other great free software including things like The Gimp, OpenOffice, Inkscape and my kid’s favourite, Tuxpaint.

Rob Beard, Devon and Cornwall GNU / Linux Users Group”

I did intentionally stay away from including Office 2007 from my original list because as an incredibly expensive application it is rare to find it located as a default program on a new computer.This doesn’t detract however from the fact that I do believe that Open Office is a worthy alternative and that the new Office interface does appear to be a step backwards in regards to usability.In the past Windows applications always had a universal look and feel which made a new application incredibly easy to pick up but recently Microsoft applications have moved away from this predictable interface which results in a much steeper learning curve.

With regards to Outlook Express I certainly agree; it is a horrid application and I find it interesting that Microsoft will not be bundling Windows Mail (the successor to Outlook Express) with their forthcoming Windows 7 Operating System.Users will be given access to Windows Mail by way of a separate download but without the software being pushed on them, Thunderbird will almost certainly increase in popularity.

I also enjoyed the mention of the free painting application Tuxpaint (www.tuxpaint.org) which is a worthy download for anyone with a child between the ages of around 3 and 12.The program has been designed to not only be incredibly easy and fun for younger children to use but also give parents the confidence to leave them unoccupied with the computer.As an example, the application runs in a full screen mode so that the child doesn’t have access to the start menu or any other computer functions; there is also no obvious ‘quit’ button that would land them back in the Operating System.Saving and loading files doesn’t rely on any knowledge of the computers file system but instead a saved file will appear as a thumbnail which can then be clicked on to open it back up again.A range of fun drawing tools (which all have their own sound effects) are provided including a range of paintbrushes, shape tools, rubber stamps and even ‘magic tools’ which provide basic image manipulation and distortion effects.


About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.