Why I'm quitting Microsoft Office forever

It's not just about the money. Well, okay, it's mostly about the money, but there are other reasons I'm bidding goodbye to Microsoft's not-so-sweet suite.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
4 min read

So yesterday I decided to write a guide to getting started with Microsoft OneNote, which is now available free for Mac and all versions of Windows. First step, of course: download and install the OneNote client. Nothing complicated about that, right?

Wrong. The installer quit midway with a cryptic error message. Weird. Tried again: same result. Sigh. Well, no time to mess with this now, I'll come back to it later. Let me just check my email real quick and...whoa! Where's Outlook?

The icon was gone from the Windows taskbar. I clicked into the Start menu and...whoa! Where's Office? The entire suite had vanished. I clicked into Settings and found it still listed among my installed programs, so I tried the Repair option. Same error the installer threw. Reboot, Repair, again: same error. Uninstall Microsoft Office: same error. So, basically, the simple act of trying to install a Microsoft product fully and irrevocably crippled another Microsoft product.

In the end, I tracked down a Microsoft Fix-It that allowed me to uninstall Office. And you know what? I'm not reinstalling it. Not now, not ever. Because I've had it up to here with this kind of nonsense (which is way politer word than I'd be using if this wasn't a family blog).


A brief history of hating Office Earlier this week I was already feeling a bit insulted by Microsoft's introduction of Office 365 Personal, which gives you a single license (for one PC and one mobile device) for $70 -- for one year. Yep, it's a subscription option, same as the newly rechristened Office 365 Home, which costs $100 and comes with five licenses. Uh, math isn't really my strong suit, but there's something amiss with those numbers.

Full disclosure: My Office 365 installation came courtesy of Microsoft, a one-year demo license for journalists. It expires next month, so I was already planning my Office exit, so to speak. But for nearly a year I've been using Kingsoft Office Free 2013, which I consider the best Microsoft Office alternative. It's pretty, capable, and more than sufficient for my everyday-user needs (which amount to word processing, occasional spreadsheets, and once-in-a-blue-moon presentation viewing).

The alternative: pay Microsoft $70 or $100 annually for tools that are far beyond my needs -- and that apparently crash and burn when you try to add a new one.

The only reason I've continued using Office 2013 at all is Outlook, which is actually pretty nice in this version. Plus, I have a PST file containing years' worth of email. But just the other day it was producing oddball password-error messages for one of my Gmail accounts, even though I had no trouble signing into that account on the Web. (This has happened, sporadically, for years with Outlook.)

Kingsoft Office 2013 Free has nearly all the same features as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint -- but it's free.
Kingsoft Office 2013 Free has nearly all the same features as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint -- but it's free. Kingsoft

But you know what? I can migrate that PST straight to Gmail, and then just get used to Gmail's ugly Web interface. Or, because I'm kind of old-school when it comes to having a local e-mail client/information manager, I'll probably switch to the excellent eM Client 6. It's free for personal use and up to two mail accounts; the unlimited Pro version runs $49.95.

Wrapping up the rant I'm not saying this is the right solution for everyone. Office 365 does offer a pretty decent value if you need and fully leverage all the included tools (Publisher, Access, OneDrive, etc.), and $100 or $70 per year is hardly a fortune.

But just for once I'd like to see Microsoft deliver a truly fair and affordable solution. How about Office 365 Basic: Give me Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook for $20 annually. You keep Access, Publisher, and that incredibly generous 60 minutes of Skype calls (value: about 90 cents). Better yet, let me buy it outright for that price. I have no interest in subscribing to software.

That'll never happen, though, and Outlook isn't nearly enough to make me pay for any iteration of Microsoft Office. So, yeah, my broken Office installation was the straw that broke this cheapskate's back. I'm out.

Your thoughts?


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