Charles Moore's Mailbag

More on Living Microsoft Free

Charles Moore - 2002.03.18 - Tip Jar

Excellent article - Many thanks!

From Michael Sohaski

Dear Charles,

Thank you for your excellent article on living Microsoft free!

I do have a quick question for you. You describe 9.1 as a rock w/o the MS software. Is your experience with OS X similarly as rock solid?

Best wishes,

Michael Sohaski

Hi Michael,

Glad you liked the article.

Your question is tough to answer briefly. The OS X system is quite stable, although not entirely free of glitches and bugs. However, most application software for OS X is not terribly polished, and there are bugs galore. It's definitely what I would term a more *ragged* user experience than the legacy OS at this stage of the game.

Check out my OS X Odyssey series on Applelinks for more specifics:


M$ Free

From Robt Freed

Right on, Charles. Beware of the Dark Side!

I keep only Word 5.1, and maybe that's just for old time's sake. At least Word 5.1 came from an era when M$ hadn't really gotten its clumsy spyware agenda rolling yet. 5.1's probably safe enough. Nothing like Outlook Express, hacker's delight.

M$, through products like Word, IE, and now especially OE, just keeps crankin' away, collecting our data by poking around in folks' otherwise private business, peering through alleged previously undetected "security holes" which turn up all too often. I think M$ being the "weakest link" is probably just part of their plan. Brrrr. Well, it's almost New Moon again anyhow...

Written in Claris Emailer, OS 9.1.

Robt Freed

Hi Robt,

I've recently found a new use for Word 5.1 - it opens RTF documents produced by OS X apps.


Living Microsoft free...

From B.J. Major

Hi Charles,

I could not have put it better, what you said in your article. I, too, as a Mac user, have been living very happily MS free for over a year as well. ClarisWorks/AppleWorks is a tremendously underrated app, as is Nisus Writer.

The only major complaint I have about Netscape as a browser substitution is that it won't let me alphabetize my bookmarks at all. They always look so out of order to me. That was so easy to do in IE. It also won't allow me to copy and paste a bookmarked URL into another app the way IE would.

The only thing I haven't done is remove the MS System Folder items - glad you mentioned that; I'll definitely do that as well. I have no doubts that would contribute to a more stable System!

While I have no doubt admitting that MS wrote some of their best stuff for the Mac back in the 1980s (when they actually supported the platform and before they decided to make Windows), with Word 4 and 5.1 being my own favorites, I too despise their business tactics and complete lack of ethics in the marketplace. I can't in conscience support a company that does business like that. One day their greed will do them in, and I can't wait to witness it.


Hi BJ,

Interesting how different features are important to different people. I wasn't even aware that IE could alphabetize its Favorites list, even though I used IE for several years. ;-)


Microsoft crap

From: Matthew Chappell

Dear Mr. Moore,

I have just read your recent article on Microsoft free Macs, and I agree wholeheartedly. The reason I am writing to you is to find out if you know of a decent newsgroup client for OS X, as I must use Outlook Express for that. To add insult to injury, the program isn't even OS X native yet.

Mail, OS X's default email program, works pretty well, and, apart from the lack of a newsgroup client, it works pretty well.

But with Internet surfing, I am forced to use Explorer. It is the only browser that I know of that will save the entire contents of a Web page and reproduce it off line accurately. I've tried Netscape and OmniWeb, but such facilities were not available. Unfortunately as well, Explorer was also faster.

I would love to free my machine from what very well could be the Beast prophesied in Revelation, but it's not easy. Thus, could I partake of some of your worldly wisdom?

Thanking you in advance, and please keep up the excellent articles,

Matt Chappell

Hi Matt,

I don't use newsgroups myself, but I think that Mozilla/Netscape supports them, and Mozilla might be a partial answer to your browser dilemma as well. I really like it, especially the OS X version.

If anyone in readerland can suggest an alternative OS X native newsgroup client to Matt, let's hear from you.

As for Web archives, iCab supports them, too, and there is even a free, downloadable utility that will convert IE Web archives to iCab.


IE experience

From David Deckert

"However, that doesn't explain why Mac users have to use Internet Explorer for browsing or Outlook Express/Entourage for mail when file compatibility is a non-issue in either case. There are plenty of non-Microsoft browsers and email clients available that work just fine."


I appreciate all you do for the shareware community by constantly admonishing Mac users to find alternatives to MS. More people need to know what other choices are out there beyond just what their Mac came loaded with. Keep it up, please. You and I share an admiration for SweetMail, for example.

The problem is, nothing is that cut and dry. Your paragraph above, and your other comments concerning stability, are coming from limited experience. You stopped right after the best MS browser was released.

Sorry if you didn't like it, but you didn't use it long enough to properly gauge it's stability nor its usefulness. You've said many times how you dropped IE 5 after a short while. It ain't perfect, but it blows away earlier versions and throws into stark relief the antiquities of Navigator's 4.x funkiness. And I'm not referring to the way the two browsers look.

BTW, IE 5.1 introduces no extensions to your Extensions folder. It keeps everything in its own folder. Even OE 5, which puts 4 extensions in the Extensions folder, will work fine after moving them to the OE folder.

I understand your system runs better now without MS software. I acknowledge it was the right decision for you. What you don't admit in print is that your experience might just be that - your experience. To be fair, you need to include something to that effect in your articles, otherwise you sound either uninformed or uncaring. You got out of the game but still keep writing about it!

I found Chris Lawson's recent browser comparo on LEM interesting. I felt he was honest, and this was a tough call since the pickle has never been a big IE fan. How about spending some time with IE 5.1 and the latest Mozilla .99 and report back. Caveat: Do it under OS 9.1 or 9.2.2. IE 5.1 doesn't always play well with 8.6. There's your IE5.1 bug report.

I run MS' current Internet software on my iMac (9.2.2) for several hours everyday and have to reboot once every few weeks, but it isn't because IE or OE or Entourage puked and took down the OS. I have stated to you, Dan Knight, and others several times I find IE to actually force-quit very gracefully, reliably contrary to what I constantly read from you. Am I the only person with a heavily loaded Mac that doesn't have problems with IE? Is that likely? Or merely your experience?


Well, David, I forget exactly when IE 5 came out, but I think it was in early 2000, so I had it around and used it a fair bit for more than six months. Didn't like it from the start - I liked IE 4.5 better.

As for stability, countless others, including several of my Mac Web tech writer colleagues, have told me they've experienced the same thing; banish the IE shared libraries and whatnot from the System Folder and stability improves.

However, as I said clearly in the article, my principle reason for boycotting M$ software is ideological. Even if Microsoft demonstrably made the best Mac software in the world and gave it away (and they do, of course, give away IE and OE), I still wouldn't use it out of disgust for their business ethics and power lust.



From William Baltyn


I read your article on Low End Mac and agree totally; I have endeavoured to be MS free too. Under OS 9 this was no problem, but I am having difficulty in OS X.

In its preferences, Internet Explorer for X has options for changing helper apps, e.g. FTP and so forth. This functionality used to be part of the Internet control panel (in OS 9) but is no longer. No other browser for X has these preferences, and I know of no 3rd party apps which do the same.

I just wondered if anyone else knew how to set these helper apps without using IE?

Will Baltyn

Hi Will,

I don't know. I've never really made much use of the integrated helper apps. feature in the legacy OS. I use a freestanding application for ftp.

Anyway, if anyone can help, please let us know.



From dxtr

Hi Charles,

And I quote

"I decided to purge all Microsoft software, save for my ancient copy of Word 5.1, from my hard drive. That basically meant getting rid of Internet Explorer (by then version 5, which I didn't like anyway) and Outlook Express, along with all the shared library junk they had dropped into my System Folder . . . even if the company's business ethics and hegemonistic ambitions don't offend you. "Microsoft, You are the weakest link. Good-bye . . . And if you need to open the odd Word document with formatting intact, there's the handy little icWord shareware utility for that."

All means everything. Take the leap to be totally M$ free - get rid of Word, too!


Hi dxtr,

Thing is, I used MS Word 5.1 as my main word cruncher for five years, and I have literally thousands of Word documents on my hard drive that I need to be able to open with formatting intact for archival and reference purposes sometimes.


It's proven itself

From Alvin Chan

Hi, we share the same thoughts with no PC products if we can. Though, today I would just like to love them all, limit it to one and two at most. We really only need one, the best. Microsoft as well as PC programs generally has proven itself to be just good, but if we want the best Apple products generally are the best. I believe this is so because it was the first to pioneer things and because of that others who are inspired will have to compromise with some of the classic design of Apple. This is why Microsoft and PC products are mostly compromised. They cannot copy everything for legal reasons.

I have used IE 5 too, it's more compatible but not significantly better, and I have peace of mind using Netscape - it looks better and has better mailer than Outlook or Eudora, priority on ease of use. iCab, Opera, OmniWeb doesn't have a mailer and IM. It has to be one with security in mind as well and mail, Netscape is the best to go.

AppleWorks, too, is the easiest compared to Word, Nisus Writer, but not WordPerfect, as it pioneered the word processing with ease of use. AppleWorks has to compromise with after WordPerfect. AppleWorks does go with Aqua and is not significantly worse than WordPerfect. The font manipulation with AppleWorks is terrible though, they're inside the menus. The more you hide things frequently used things, the harder it is to use.

Some may be more powerful than Apple's product, like Media Player where it is a movie player, too, and all that as opposed to separate programs of QuickTime, iTunes, Picture Viewer which I believe should all just be in QuickTime because that's the pioneer. Windows Media player has to compromise making things cluttered which is also a problem in Winamp because Apple has already taken, minimal, elegant but powerful design both on hardware and software.

To make it minimal, elegant, and powerful, Apple shows only the most frequently used, which shows love for neighbors or in this case the users which include themselves. Apple loves it's neighbors, which is good way to do things because God bless a few of it.

I'm trying to go all OS X in the future and would use Metacreation products which I tracked down to the new owners so that it would go with Aqua which I believe licensed Kai's interface but did not say it anyway. The Aqua buttons look like the one from Kai's Photosoap. I plan to use, though some may just be stucked for OS 9. I choose their programs because Kai has pioneered interfaces that was ahead of it time but is the right time now with Aqua's popularity. They are:

  • Photosoap: editing pictures
  • Studio Carrara: 3D animation and creation Art Dabbler - drawing (which I have now)

To complete things out I use now:

  • Netscape
  • AppleWorks
  • QuickTime (I hope they integrate iTunes, picture viewer and the DVD/CD stuff to this pioneer)

Others I wish would be aquafied and be close to Kai's interface:

  • Virex
  • DiskWarrior (haven't seen this yet, I hope it is aquafied already)

Though there are the WordPerfect LE and CorelDraw LE, they don't go with Aqua and not significantly better than the ones above.

It's possible not to have softwares from Microsoft. Though it should also be loved but it's because we only need one though we need to know how to use those too because we will use it also.

God bless,
Alvin Chan

Word 5.1a & 9.1

From James Lindley

Dear Mr. Moore,

I agree with your assessment of recent MS applications and their swarm of extensions in regards to Mac stability. I loaded Word 2000 on a trial basis because I thought Word 5.1 would not be compatible with 9.1, and I assumed that it would allow me to import my lengthy address book (the envelope addressing feature). Much to my surprise, it didn't! On top of that, it took up 125 MB of hard disk space. That alone told me it was filled with junk. Nisus was not an option, because there is no import filters for it in PageMaker 6.5 or QuarkXpress 4.1. (oddly enough, there are filters for WordStar and other long expired programs). I was pleasantly surprised to find that Word 5.1 still works fine on 9.1, although I'm worried that it may have unexpected behavior that I haven't noticed yet.

However, you did mention that patches exist for the use of Word 5.1 on 9.1. Where can I find them?


Hi James,

I've been told they exist, but I don't have them, and despite an intensive search of my files and the best efforts of, I haven't come up with a source for you.



Getting rid of MSIE

From: Herb Goodfriend

I do use iCab (latest version) almost all of the time, but a few secure pages still seem to be inaccessible with iCab, so for these I use Internet Explorer. Also, some pages seem to format themselves very poorly in iCab (the objects being strung out in a long vertical when they should be side-by-side), which does not prevent me from using iCab but is annoying.

I haven't tried Netscape much (don't know why, but I don't especially like it), and when I downloaded and installed Mozilla several versions ago (9.2?) it trashed all my iCab preferences and froze the machine. I will probably try it again soon, but meanwhile I am still using Explorer about 2% of the time.

Herb Goodfriend

Hi Herb,

Yes, JavaScript implementation is still not complete in iCab, and I have noted the same phenomenon on a few pages. I just switch to Mozilla when that happens.

The latest, 0.9.9 build of Mozilla is pretty nice in both OS X and the legacy version.


Living Microsoft Free

From Chuck Underhill

Hi Charles,

I just read and very much enjoyed your article about purging your Mac of all Microsoft products. I can't say that I agree with doing that, or your opinions on Microsoft itself. But the article was both highly enjoyable and well written.

Thanks for adding to my enjoyment of LEM!

Chuck Underhill

Delighted that you enjoyed it, Chuck, even if I didn't convince you.


Living without Microsoft (and Upresent question)

From Steve Wassenich


Bravo! If we could convince the U.S. government to live without Microsoft, I'd be happy. As it is, my home is a Microsoft-Free Zone (at least for the moment), but I'm still shackled to it at work. We all have our crosses to bear....

About that "for the moment" above: My wife wants an iceBook, which is good. She needs to create and display presentations for teen-agers and would like some razzle-dazzle to keep the video generation interested, also good. Unfortunately, the organization with which she is associated wants to be able to view, copy, play with, etc., the files she creates, and they're stuck on PowerPoint. In fact, they're so deeply infected that they almost consider "PowerPoint" a synonym for "presentation." This is definitely not good. AppleWorks 6.2 translates and writes Word and Excel, and it can do presentations, but the razzle-dazzle is limited and it doesn't speak PowerPoint.

In your article, you mentioned Upresent, which I've not heard of. Can it can read and write PowerPoint format and do interesting transitions between slides? If so, it could replace PowerPoint and my home could continue Microsoft-free. Otherwise, I'll have to allow The Beast a foothold.

Steve Wassenich

Hi Steve,

Here's the scoop on Upresent. I have not used it myself (I've never had any call for doing presentations), but it sounds good. As for your read/write PowerPoint documents, I simply don't know. I'm sure than CodeBlazer's tech support folks would be happy to tell you.

Charles. �

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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