Break Free

If you have already read the past few blog posts then you might have noticed that it’s all about Microsoft – Microsoft Office Outlook 2013, Hotmail Outlook.com, Gmail, etc. As I wrote earlier our digital life is usually about – Mail, Planner, Cloud, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, and Reminder. And then I listed the Top 25 iPhone Apps that help me to organize my digital life too.

Change, Welcome.

When I was done, Microsoft launched the next version of their flagship operating system – Windows 8. Again, it changed my digital life. By now you probably know I’m one of those Microsoft fanboy who is was obsessed with Google products and services.

Now I’m going to tell you how Windows 8 helped me organize my desktop the way iPhone redefined mobile computing.

My New Preferred Non-Google Products & Services

  • Mail (Outlook.com & Office Outlook 2013)
  • Planner (Microsoft OneNote)
  • Cloud (Microsoft SkyDrive)
  • Contacts (Outlook Contacts synced with Facebook, Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Contacts – Pretty cool, isn’t it?)
  • Calendar (iCloud Calendar synced with Office Outlook 2013)
  • Notes (iCloud Notes & Outlook 2013)
  • Reminder (iCloud Reminders synced with Office Outlook 2013)

I always wanted to switch to more of Microsoft products but they always disappointed me in some way or the other so I had no choice but to stick with the big “G”. Before I migrated to the above services, my preferred options were:

  • Mail (Google Mail)
  • Planner (Google Docs)
  • Cloud (Google Drive)
  • Contacts (Google Contacts)
  • Calendar (Google Calendar)
  • Notes (Google Notebook – now discontinued)
  • Reminder (Google Tasks)

As you can see it WAS all about Google, Google, and Google!

Read: Over 101 Google Products And Services You Probably Don’t Know

I used to spend a lot of time with the above services as it was a kind of obsession to check each of the above thing frequently apart from RSS (Google Reader), Instant Messenger (Google Talk), and Social Media [My Social Media vCard].

I believe that a smartphone (if used sensibly) can organize your life in a better way if you treated it as one and NOT an entertainment gadget. But ever since I bought the iPhone, I began to move from Google to more of Microsoft and Apple.

So Why Did I Migrate To Non-Google Products & Services?

  • It’s official – Google is evil now!
  • I don’t want to put all my eggs in Google’s basket.
  • Google was controlling my digital life.
  • Gmail was a kind of obsession.

I was obsessed with Google Mail to an extent that if I’m online then it means that my Gmail browser window is open. No, not because of their inbuilt Chat – my Google Talk app was also open apart from Gmail.

I was am obsessed with Google search. Why?

[quote]Never memorize what you can look up in a book. – Albert Einstein[/quote]

If Einstein was alive today he would have said,

[quote]Never memorize what you can Google.[/quote]

And that exactly is the reason why my Google Web History shows a total Google searches of 61,334 unique key phrases in a matter of few years.

Google was not just a search engine for me. It was my preferred service for Mail, Planner, Cloud Storage, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Reminder and much more than what you can imagine.

It’s a fact that there are better products or alternatives to Google. Of course it’s Google who showed the world what a web browser can do and they redefined the way we use the Internet. But I don’t want to get too obsessed with Google and want to switch back to Microsoft products eventually.

Read: Dear Microsoft, Here’s Why I’m Obsessed With Google Even As A Microsoft Fanatic

With Windows 8, the new Outlook.com, the new SkyDrive, the new Office 2013 they did deliver something and I promised Microsoft that I will switch to their products if they deliver what I want.

The Best Alternatives To Google Products & Services: My Choice

  • Microsoft Outlook – as desktop e-mail, calendar, notes and tasks client which syncs with iCloud.
  • Microsoft OneNote – as online/offline planner
  • Microsoft SkyDrive – as cloud storage
  • Skype (integrated with Windows Live & Facebook) – as an instant messenger and for voice calls.

Google Search Alternative – Bing

Bing

Well, the real fact is that there’s no better alternative for Google search. Although it’s annoying with too many unwanted features, I believe that it’s still the best search engine out there. That said, if you’re really looking for an alternative to Google search then Microsoft Bing is the one to go for. Bing has an awesome clean interface with minimalistic features which should cater most users’ needs. But for power users, Google is miles ahead of Bing. It means that I will probably switch to Bing the day I quit digital marketing as I won’t require those advanced search operators and features offered by Google.

Google Notebook Alternative – Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote was my favorite Notes app several years back but since it did not support syncing I switched to Google Notebook. I became a huge fan of Google Notebook due to its simplicity. But then Google discontinued the product and towards the end it was full of bugs. So, I migrated to Evernote which is really useful, powerful, supports all platforms, and is free. But as part of a new centralization I switched back to OneNote as now it supports syncing with SkyDrive, offers an intuitive iPhone and Windows 8 app with an awesome interface. Right now, OneNote acts as my online/offline planner and Evernote as my clipboard to store texts, images temporarily as their desktop app is wonderful.

Google Desktop Alternative – Windows Search

Windows Search

Google Desktop was an awesome product which brought Google’s search technology to our desktop. But Google has the habit of discontinuing useful products and they discontinued Google Desktop search several years back.

But luckily now we no longer need a desktop search as Windows search is much more powerful, useful and pretty fast as well. Or you can consider any of these Windows Search alternatives.

Other notable discontinued products include – Google Answers, Google Dictionary, Google Notebook, Google Health, iGoogle, Google Wave and many more.

Gmail Alternative – Microsoft Hotmail (now Outlook.com)

Bye bye, Gmail!

I have already written several blog posts about Gmail (Google Mail) on how it was acting as my e-mail hub. Not anymore! Gmail is no longer my preferred web mail client and it has been replaced by Hotmail Outlook.com though it’s not as powerful as Gmail yet. Our relationship was over 8 years old and last week after our breakup I moved to Outlook. Now I use my @gmail.com account for social media notifications and for those registration required websites.

Microsoft Outlook

I didn’t want to change my e-mail and didn’t want to use an @hotmail.com or @outlook.com address either but luckily Windows Live Custom Domains (now Windows Live Admin Center), a service which Microsoft launched even before Google Apps, was active and I hosted my @maheshone.com e-mail to Hotmail. So, now I have my preferred e-mail ID and I can enjoy a cleaner interface with no ads (I don’t know why… but my Outlook account is not showing any ads even without a paid plan).

Read: The New Outlook.com Features Which You Need To Know

Google Docs Alternative – Microsoft Office Web Apps

Microsoft Office Web Apps

Google Docs is simply NOT the best online productivity software out there. I suggest you to try the new Office Web Apps even if you don’t want to switch from Google Docs. The Office Web Apps interface offers almost the same rich experience as offered by Microsoft Office desktop suite.

Google Calendar Alternative – iCloud, Outlook or Zoho

Sync iCloud with Outlook

There’s no doubt that Google Calendar is one of the best calendar app out there which is clean and syncs with your mobile. When I migrated to iCloud I felt that I no longer need Google Calendar and moved to iCloud Calendar which syncs with Microsoft Outlook and can be accessed at iCloud.com and of course from your iOS devices. Now, if you’re looking for a real alternative then try Zoho Calendar which is the best alternative to Google.

Google Reader Alternative – Microsoft Outlook, Twitter or Netvibes

Netvibes

If you’re looking for an RSS reader for mobile then there are tons of them available but for desktop I feel that Google Reader is the best. Hence I am yet to find a better option. But that said you don’t have to login to Google Reader to get updates and you can read the feeds from within Microsoft Outlook or you can read your RSS feeds on Twitter. If you’re really looking for a web based Google Reader alternative then try Netvibes. You can access the feeds from your mobile and can even read your feeds offline – anytime, anywhere.

Google Drive Alternative – Microsoft SkyDrive

Microsoft SkyDrive

Google Drive comes with 5 GB of free cloud storage. As mentioned in my SkyDrive vs. Dropbox vs. Google Drive blog post I was not using any of those online storage services and all. I used Gmail to backup files as attachments as I didn’t want to switch to a non-Google service and was waiting for GDrive. Also, SkyDrive didn’t have a desktop app then and when they supported the same, Google launched their own cloud storage Google Drive which was tightly integrated with Gmail. Since I’m using a legacy storage plan of $5/year for 20 GB I chose Google Drive. But recently I migrated to SkyDrive as I was released from the Google prison. Of course SkyDrive is much better than Google Drive. It supports remote access so that you can access your desktop files from anywhere as long as your PC is online and is connected to SkyDrive. Also, SkyDrive is cheaper than a Google Drive or a Dropbox – It’s $10/year for 20 GB for SkyDrive, $30/year for 25 GB for GDrive. If I’m to compare with Dropbox then it’s $99/year for 100 GB when compared to $50/year for SkyDrive for 100 GB. That said, if you’re not a Microsoft fanboy then it appears like Dropbox is the best alternative to Google Drive.

Google Apps Alternative – Windows Live Admin Center

Windows Live

I bet the primary reason why people are using Google Apps is that it offers all the powerful Gmail features to Google Apps. I signed up for Google Apps long time back when they launched the service and the maximum number of users allowed for my free plan was 50 when it’s just 10 now. That’s not all, the free plan is hidden from Google Apps homepage which clearly indicates that  they want to push their paid plan to you.

The alternative is Windows Live Admin Center (formerly Windows Live Custom Domains) a service which Microsoft launched, even before Google Apps (formerly Gmail For Your Domain), in 2005.

With Windows Live Admin Center you can host your email with Hotmail or Outlook.com or whatever you call it and can enjoy the rich Outlook.com experience for your domain. What’s more? You can use your @example.com as your Microsoft account and it can be used for all Microsoft services including Skype, SkyDrive, Office Web Apps, Windows 8 etc too.

Blogger (Blogspot) Alternative – WordPress

WordPress

WordPress (WordPress.com and WordPress.org) doesn’t need an introduction right? A self-hosted WordPress is the preferred blogging platform of all passionate bloggers out there. And I have already done a comprehensive WordPress vs. Blogger.com blog post several months back.

Picasa Alternative – SkyDrive or Flickr

Flickr

I used Picasa Web Albums as an online image hosting (a kind of backup) and not as a photo sharing website. If you’re looking for an image sharing or hosting service then you don’t need anything else than Flickr. Now if you were also using Picasa as a backup then you can try SkyDrive as it’s a perfect way to showcase your photos too.

Google+ Alternative – Sorry, I didn’t know that you were using it!

Oh wait, how many times have you opened your Google+ profile ever since they launched the service? You can count the number of times, right? So I guess we don’t need to think about an alternative and I’m pretty sure that you’re on Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn or on all of them.

BONUS: For Webmasters & Digital Marketers

I know that this blog post hasn’t listed an alternative for all the Google products and services out there. But know that there’s a better alternative to almost all Google products.

Image Credit: Ray MacLean, Garrison Reid

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Mahesh Mohan

Hey there, I’m Mahesh (@maheshone) — Chief Content Strategist @ Minterest and an organic marketing evangelist. I write about tech, marketing, and everything in between that truly excites me. Outside of that, I’m equally passionate about the financial markets, and also spend A LOT of time doing random things. Also, the Chief Everything Officer (@Infirn Labs).

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Meet The Blogger

Mahesh Mohan

Hey there, I’m Mahesh (@maheshone) — Chief Content Strategist @ Minterest and an organic marketing evangelist. I write about tech, marketing, and everything in between that truly excites me. Outside of that, I’m equally passionate about the financial markets, and also spend A LOT of time doing random things. Also, the Chief Everything Officer (@Infirn Labs).