Microsoft Office 365

The previous post was about OpenOffice, an excellent free office suite. Even though it is a good business suite, I’m still a Microsoft Office fan. My problem was that I own 4 computers, 1 desktop, 2 laptops, and a laptop/tablet that I use to travel. Microsoft Pro licenses can get costly but Office 365 resolved that problem for me about two years ago and now you can get it for only $9.95 a month. This includes all the pro applications on up to five computers. If you own a small business, for about $120 a year you can have every Office application and the latest updates on all your computers and it deductible. Plus, if you are not at your computer, you can use Office 365 online by simply logging in so you have the applications no matter where you are.

Microsoft Office, especially Word but also Excel and PowerPoint, is an important part of my business and now I always have the latest versions on all my computers. Check it out for yourself.

A Free Office Suite?

How many of you have purchased a new computer and later realized that it did not include Microsoft Office Suite with the software. Instead, it may contain a cheaper version call Microsoft Works which is only a shell of Office. One thing you can do, if you don’t need Access, Microsoft’s database application, is purchase Microsoft Office Home and Student. It is a nice Office Suite that includes Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, plus One Note. And, you can use it on three computers. You can get it for about $125 at Amazon or less from some student serving locations if you are a student.

On the other hand, if you are willing to endure a minor inconvenience you can get one of the most comprehensive Office Suites around. It’s called Open Office and you can download it free. The minor inconvenience is that any file you create with it will default save in the .odf format. That means you will have to use the Save As command to save your files as Word or .doc/docx files. You can find your free copy at http://www.openoffice.org/ .

Free Software?

Believe it or not, you can find some good yet free software applications to download from the web and use on your computer. Unfortunately, you can also find some that can be quite unsafe and brings with it viruses, trojans, and other unfriendly additions that can ruin your computer. I suggest you maintain the idea that there is no free lunch and never download a free program unless you know for certain it is safe. In a couple of future posts I will list some free programs I have used for years and you can download them and use them yourself. In the meantime you can check out CNET Downloads at http://download.cnet.com/windows/ . They only list safe applications. They have many free applications but many others are what is called shareware. That is, you can download it and try it for free but you have to pay for it if you wish to continue using it for the long term.

Windows Explorer/Libraries

Windows Explorer is a highly functional and underutilized Windows tool. After years as a network administrator, working with dozens of computer users, it still surprises me that so many users don’t know that Windows Explorer (Called Libraries in Windows 7) even exists.

Windows Explorer or Libraries is an effective tool that facilitates organizing your computer files and folders so things are easy to find and backup. The next few posts will be devoted to ways to take full advantage of Windows Explorer or Libraries. Please don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions.

The Windows Desktop

One of the most common mistakes I see from Windows users involves saving files to their Windows Desktop. On some PCs I’ve noticed close to a hundred files directly on the desktop. These users are often complaining about how slow their computers are and how long it takes to start up.

The Windows Desktop is the place for shortcuts. This includes shortcuts to applications and shortcuts to files or folders. If this is your issue, I suggest that you immediately create a folder somewhere on your C: drive or some other drive if you have more than one partition on your computer. Name that folder Desktop and then right click and drag every file on the Windows Desktop to that folder. Once that is complete there are two things you can do for quick access to those files. The simplest is to right click the folder and drag it to the Windows Desktop, select Create Shortcut Here and then you have a shortcut directly to the folder with all the files. Or, if you prefer to have a shortcut for each file, just perform that procedure for each file instead of for the folder and you will have a shortcut on the Desktop instead of the entire file.

Limiting your Windows Desktop to shortcuts will help you computer run faster and startup quicker.

Using The Mouse

The mouse is a great tool that allows Windows users to perform a multitude of tasks easily and quickly. The problem with mouse use arises when the user acquires what I like to refer to as clickitis. This is the extraordinarily bad and dangerous habit of clicking on things without any idea of what will take place after the clicking. This is especially a problem with web site popups because such clicking leads to viruses and trojans that can render your computer inoperable.

The best rule for safe use of the mouse is to always read the information in the window before clicking. It does take a little more time but not as much time as cleaning out viruses from your computer if they can be cleaned out without wiping the hard drive; a disaster for those without backups.

Welcome To Windows Basics

After over ten years as a network administrator it has become obvious that many Windows users have little if any knowledge of how to use the Windows operating system efficiently and effectively. This lack of knowledge creates situations that cause their computers to slow down and often stop functioning completely.

The goal of this blog is to help Windows users avoid those problems by including basic Windows how-to information. My posts will be geared to users who have little if any knowledge of how to make the best use of windows. It is not intended for power users with extensive windows knowledge and abilities. If you do have these extensive skills you may find this blog boring. While I definitely welcome any contribution you make to help those with less knowledge, this blog will not be changed to accommodate a tech savvy group. There are plenty of blogs geared specifically for them. Regardless of your skill level, I welcome your questions or comments and will respond to them promptly. Thanks for visiting the Windows Basics blog.

NOTE: Please don’t waste your time or mine with non topic comments or attempts to advertise products using non-topic comments. These attempts will be deleted promptly and without notice or response. Thanks for your cooperation.

Bill Benitez