I was too used to the corporate world where everyone had Exchange (Outlook shared calendars and contacts etc) and Word / Excel etc. Not to mention my years being brought up on Windows computers.
The low point was spending $5,000 on a microsoft server the year before last.
The situation was critical. My friends got involved. I needed an intervention – I needed a detox.
So let my mistakes help you by introducing the 5 day Microsoft detox – a 5 day, step by step process for helping small businesses ditch the Microsoft mindset.
Day 1 – Ditch Internet Explorer
If you are using a Windows computer and you haven’t thought too much about browsers then there is a good chance you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer – and probably an old version. Most sources still have IE as the most popular browser (see browser stats here).
The latest version of internet explorer, IE9 is actually pretty good (apparently). But most of us web developers have never forgiven Microsoft for IE6 (or the IT departments that refused to get rid of it year after year).
So if you haven’t done this already, let’s start with a super simple first step – trust me you’ll feel better for it.
2 – Uninstall Outlook and switch to Google Apps
If you come from the corporate world you are addicted to Outlook. But guess what. There is software that is free and better.
Google apps is a bunch of tools bundled into 1 including email (Gmail), calendars, contacts and tasks, docs etc.
Here are 6 reasons why Google Apps is better than Outlook.
- You don’t have to pay Microsoft every time you want to use the program on a different computer. You don’t have to pay anyone ever (as long as you go here, they make it a bit hard to find).
- You don’t have to pay your IT guy every time you need to do something simple (like add an email account).
- All of your computers and devices are automatically synced – no reading emails on your mobile and having them show up unread on your computer etc (this is the cloud, get used to that level of convenience).
- Gmail is smart – try to send an email in Gmail and include the word ‘I’ve attached’ but don’t attach anything. Gmail reminds you to attach it….I told you….smart.
- You don’t get SPAM – that’s right, it still gets sent but Google does a damn good job of filtering it out without any additional spam filters. I have my all over the web unsecured, no spam filters and get hardly any spam.
- Google apps can have other extensions added to it to make it even cooler. For example I use Wisestamp for way cool email signatures and Insightly to have a CRM, project and people management tool built into Gmail (both free).
I could keep going but let’s focus on the detox.
DAY 2 ACTION – Sign up for Google Apps here and talk to your web guy or your IT guy about setting up your domain to support it. You can use the Exchange migrator to migrate if you want or just make a clean break.
Day 3 – Throw out your office server
Now that you have moved to Google Apps and you are no longer using Outlook your motivation for having the server in the office is waining. The main reason you need it now is to store files.
But having a server in your office to store files is a pain. For one thing you generally have to manually back it up. Accessing it remotely is intensely slow and it’s ugly and takes up space.
So throw is out. Physically, pick it up….right now… and throw it out the window.
But wait before you do. Sign up for paid DropBox accounts for your team or a team account and copy your files across. Check our my article ‘why you need dropbox‘ for more on this awesome tool.
DAY 3 ACTION – Install DropBox then throw your server out the window (make sure there are no passers by, Microsoft employees included).
Day 4 – Uninstall Word, Excel and PowerPoint
By day 4 of the detox the addiction is more or less broken. You’ve started to see the light and you’re in a panicked frenzy to find and throw any Microsoft product within sight. But slow down. Take a breath. You’re still using Word and Excel right?
One of the issues with ditching Word and Excel is other people are still using it so if you have any contact with the outside world you will still have a need for wordprocessing applications.
But there are 2 things you can do.
- For your internal documents use Google Docs (it’s also part of Google Apps). Everything is web based, you can access documents from any computer in any location, your team can work on documents at the same time, it rocks. If only the rest of the world used it!
- For cases where you can’t avoid working with software, download Open Office which includes free versions of a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool. It’s probably not as good as Microsoft Office and it’s a bit annoying learning the new icons and telling it to save in Microsoft’s format etc but it’s free… and it works.
Day 5 – Cross to the dark side
By this stage after 4 days of solid cleansing, you feel almost dirty using a computer running Microsoft Windows. Here’s what I did.
In 2009 I bought a top of the line Windows 7 HP laptop. It was a serious powerhouse, 17″ screen, 6 gig RAM, Core i7 processor. It was more powerful than most desktop computers at the time. It costs me about $1,500 on ebay. Overall it was a pretty good computer, crashed a couple of times, had to replace the power chord. Altogether pretty good though.
Last year after getting an email from Apple about their annual sale I buckled and bought a 13″ Macbook Air. I had no reason to buy it, I think it was those damn sales pages that did it. The air had half the storage of my old laptop, almost half the RAM and was 4 inches smaller and cost about the same.
This computer seriously rocks. It’s so much faster than my old one it’s ridiculous and it’s so convenient that I hardly ever use my iPad now. I had heard lots of unofficial Apple brand ambassador types tell me how good it was but their reasons just didn’t seem that compelling. It’s just kind of hard to put into words I guess. Just get one – it will make you happy and improve your sex life.
Results may vary, consult your IT professional before beginning the detox.
Have you done it?
I’d love to hear from successful participants in the detox. If you’ve successfully made the transition and ditched the Microsoft mindset I’d love to hear your success stories. If you think I’m an idiot I’d love to hear from you too. I’m so damn efficient now I have nothing else to do so keep the comments coming so I can respond to them!