Why I uninstalled Microsoft Office from my computer

Garikai Dzoma Avatar

Truth be told I sort of tolerate the Windows Operating system for various reasons including the fact that it has better multimedia driver support and most accessories have plug and play support, while in my beloved Ubuntu I might have to go into the terminal to figure things out.

Most importantly it’s the only way I can use Microsoft Office without having to pay Bill every other month. In the old days, all I had to do was buy a new laptop flip the lid, remove crapware that comes preloaded, install an antivirus and then I was good to go.

Now things are decidedly different. I had to struggle to gain limited control on how I received my updates. Removing some of the useless applications like MSN Sports and other useless bandwidth hogging parts was unnecessarily hard.

Office, it seems, is no longer preactivated

To top all that off it seems the preinstalled version of Office that came with the laptop was not even activated! And that is where the trouble began.

A tale of confusing licences

Since I have sworn off pirated software I decided to find out how much it would cost me to get a licence. The array of licences available is mind-numbing and confusing. There are SPLA, FFP, OEM (I knew was not looking for this right away), USL and of course Volume Licensing where I have to pay Bill every month/year.

After deciding I didn’t really want to spend an eye-popping $290 – families live off that kind of money- to buy glorified text editor I decided to have a look at volume licensing which looked cheaper. Only to be confronted by another endless iteration of options and tables.

Later I discovered I had to pay $99 a year for the trouble of having One Note on my desktop. Then it got me thinking. Do I really need Office anymore?

Do you really need Office?

Like I said above there was a time when Ms Office was the mainstay of every office big and small. Google Docs was not even considered an alternative, it was clunky, lacked essential features, terrorised Internet Explorer and stretched it to its limits, required a very good internet connection and produced documents that were not exactly compatible.

That was then. Now, Google Docs is a rival that Ms Office products have to contend with. While for nostalgic reasons people still tend to stick to Ms Office I don’t think the experience is worth the $99 a year experience.

Add the fact that sometimes I just want to work from any device without being shackled by the fact that the demi-gods at Microsoft could not be bothered to port Office to it, Google Docs became a viable alternative.

The last straw was when the Office Update Utility started chewing through my limited bandwidth in the middle of the day rendering my connection unusable.

So I said no to Microsoft and decided to avail to Google one more facet of my life. Now the damn thing knows where I stay, the weather, what I look like, where I have been and just about everything else. Creepily it tells me when it’s time to go to work and alerts me when my secret football team is taking a thrashing.

Getting some new love

Prior to this change, I had only used Google Docs occasionally. While it takes time to get used to the interface the experience is not unpleasant. One feature that takes some getting used to is the autosave feature. You type something and it is saved almost instantly without hitting Ctrl + S.

If you feign a British or American accent then there is voice typing to give your fingers a rest but it seems for all its omniscience Google still struggles to spell Tapiwa.

You also get access to common fonts such as Calibri plus the shipload of Google’s famous web safe fonts. A word of warning using these fonts would require the person to whom you are sending the document to, to download the fonts if they are using an offline document viewer such as Ms Office 2013 to view the document properly.

The interface is uncluttered and distraction free allowing your to focus on the task at hand. You can also Google search to include links or find the meanings of various words, use a thesaurus and most importantly share and collaborate with others with ease.

I am sure Ms Office’s cloud offerings have features to match these and to be fair but Google Docs comes with free 15 GB storage and if I want a paid version I have to pay $5 a month without going through a licensing ballet. I don’t even have to think about back-ups anymore.

You can also extend Google Docs using many of the offered add-ons. For the first time, I can spell the word café the way it’s supposed to be spelt without going through hoops. Don’t believe me? Try spelling MØ in Word.

The internet catch

One serious drawback of using Google Drive is that you need a constant and decent internet connection otherwise you will go bald as you constantly pull out your hair in frustration. Sure you can edit a document offline for a while but the suit is supposed to be used online.

A counter-argument can be made that Ms Office requires regular large updates to be downloaded and applied which means an internet connection would still be required but it will not stop working even if you don’t update it so.

Also while their version of Excel (it’s really called a spreadsheet) is decent when it comes to advanced features it’s just crap. It cannot even properly import CVS files generated by Google themselves which is pretty embarrassing.

You could also check LibreOffice

LibreOffice is touted as a FOSS Ms Office alternative. Personally, I don’t believe that at all. I personally detest it myself but some people swear by it. So if you do not have a constant internet connection you can try that route.

Stay away from OpenOffice while you are at it. It receives less frequent updates and I can predict its ultimate demise in the next coming months or years.

Last words

To be clear I did not uninstall Office because it was terrible, it just that for me, and I would guess for most people, there is really no compelling reason to choose it above its competitors anymore. That, plus Google Docs is pretty awesome you should give it a try.


  1. EMC

    For what you do, Notepad is probably enough so MS Office is overkill. Notepad++ and you’re in heaven. This ‘Everybody Hates Microsoft’ mantra is getting old. We all know the alternatives are all trying to replicate Windows and MS Office with laughable results. We use Google for Business in our company for email and storage requirements, and we get all sorts of issues with missing files, failed syncs, you-name-it. We miss the features of Outlook and Google deliberately killed compatibility with Outlook for their enterprise email service. The truth of the matter is the world runs on Windows and Microsoft deserves some credit for that

    1. Garikai Dzoma

      Read again slowly this time. My uninstalling Office has nothing to do with hating Microsoft. I run bash in Windows! I and a lot of ppl cannot afford it

  2. Tsenny

    PS: Volume Licensing
    From my experience with Volume Licensing, its is just a term most usually for organisations whereby an organisation requires multiple licenses of the Microsoft product eg the MS Office, but they do not require multiple copies of the installation media. It is cheap in the sense that you get only 1 DVD but your license can have the number of activations or seats that you require e.g for 50 users. That is how the cheapness comes about in that they do not need to ship to you 50 DVDs. What you are actually referring to as having to pay a bill every month if I am not mistaken is Office365.

    1. Tsenny

      For MS Office Licenses, the licenses are perpertual and what you expires every 24 months is the Software Assurance which gives you the ability to upgrade to a new version if Microsoft brings in a new version of the software and your Software Assurance is still valid. Yes Microsoft licensing is confusing

      1. Lawrence

        Thanks Tsenny and EMC. Sometimes I feel the articles on TECHZim, while aimed at addressing some tech issue, lack sufficient investigation that would make them more informative. They end up sounding like posts on a personal blog where there is no editorial moderation. And for some of us, being non-core techies, we will be hoping to read insightful articles on tech as it affects us, how we can make it easier to use, general news, etc. Like how Tsenny just described MS Office licensing in 2 short paragraphs, leaving me with sufficient detail that at least the amount I spend will be once off, but the licensing is confusing.

        And to the writer, from a PR point of view, “never tell a person who has taken the time to read your writing that they should “read again more slowly this time”. It’s rude. I am saying this from the point of view of both a writer, reader and consumer.

        1. Garikai Dzoma

          Sigh, I apologize for being insensitive, too much time at Stack Exchange and hacker forums where you speak your mind next time I will buy a candle and we will hug it out. I am not speaking for the editor but when I write, and for most tech blogs like ZDNet, Techcrunch, Wired and a gazillion others out there, each writer has his/her little nook and cranny. We know for example that Ernesto from torrentfreak hates the DCMA, Joey from OMGUbuntu loves his cat etc it’s just how it is. I cannot, and will never write about something that I don’t know. I will never even pretend to be unbiased, that is a Western media fiction just compare Fox News and ABC for example and you will know there is never such a thing as a balanced opinion.

          The point of the article was Ms Office licensing is expensive and stupid compared to how they used to do it. The caustic remark was meant to point out the fact that I was talking about Word Processing and the comment is telling me to use Notepad ! and Notepad++. For the record I use Sublime Text and Atom whenever I need a text editor.

          Now I will admit I have done it myself countless times: I see the title and scroll down to the comment section to leave a comment without even reading the article.

        2. surur

          The licensing is only confusing because Garikai was looking for a work around to paying full price. For consumers there are really only two options – 1) pay full price for the boxed copy or 2) pay for Office 365 Home.

          All the other licensing models are for schools and businesses or PC builders, and are not intended for regular consumers.

          This is the same ridiculous complaint we see about there being 11 versions of Windows . Windows Server is not for granny at home. She either gets Windows with her PC, buys a boxed copy in the store (where there will only be Pro and Home) or purchase an upgrade from the online store, where there will only be Pro and Home.

  3. TheKing

    WPS is the best Microsoft Office alternative for Linux. WPS Writer matches or is actually better than Word.

    1. Garikai Dzoma

      No argument here. It’s just I cannot afford it anymore.

  4. Lennon

    I am selling Microsoft Office 2016 Pro Plus activation key only for $35.

  5. Macd Chip

    I have read this and as someone who buys MS Office (Full Pro) almost every month, l can say this is not clearly explained, its a mixed bag of ideas.

    We need to clearly distinguish which office we are talking about! Is it online office or offline office.

    Its a rule, if you are using SaaS, the features are limited compared to offline. One such SaaS is MS Office 365. Licensing can be cheap because you can rent it when you need it, and stop when you do not want it.

    I have both Libre Office and MS Pro on my PC, l still believe Libre is the easier no brainer replacement for MS offline installations.

    1. Lawrence

      Exactly my point.. the original article is going everywhere else except somewhere specific. Have found more insight from the comments section than the original article.

      That being said, being a technocrat in an area and supping with the Techcrunch, Google or any of those big guys does not make one a good article writer. One should invest time in learning how to write effectively.

  6. NdiniNdadaro

    I use cracked version much like Rhodes took the land without paying.

    1. Macd Chip

      cracked version on works for offline usage, the day it will call home is the day you will kiss it goodbye

  7. Tom

    TechZim, your articles are becoming poorer and poorer by the day. Everytime i read ur articles since u decided to diversify from being a tech only site i am disappointed. Guys u r putting too much off ur emotions and little research in the topic at hand. Your articles are now more of click bait than informative.

    What have i learned from your article? i hv learned that u dont like that Microsoft dorminates the word editor space. while its ur opinion u didnt fully research on how to get a licence to use Office and which type of user each license suits , u just complained how u dont want to pay money to use Office. this article is good for a teenage blog not a site which aims to inform people.

    In a nutshell, too much self opinion less facts (this has bn happening for some time )

  8. peterc

    LibreOffice user here. Not the best thing since sliced bread but it solves most of my problems.

  9. Joe

    I’ve been using Google docs extensively over the last few years. But here is one simple example of many as to why you should not get rid of word and rely solely on Google docs. Write a simple 5 page document in Google docs. Now go to page 3 of the document and start page numbering on that page instead. You won’t be able to. Google states it. There are several simple things like that are missing in docs that is infuriating. I always end up going back to word.

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