Software perform every single task that is visible, from the practically mundane to extremely high-end. However, although many software are free, most of them are paid. Your computer must be using an operating system like Windows or Macintosh which is paid, most widely used MS office software which is paid. Most users tend to move towards paid software thinking that just because they are paid, they must be better and either buy or use pirated versions of them. Pirated versions usually come with their own drawbacks, the major one of them being that you receive no support from the developer at all, be it security patches, any sort of help or just bug squashing. Also, most pirated cracks and keygens contain malware, and the user just scans them with an antivirus that itself is pirated! That is why here, we will be suggesting some free alternatives to the most popular paid software which work as well – if not better as their paid counterparts.
What you think you want – Windows.
What you might just consider – Ubuntu.
Ubuntu – Most of us are now aware of this as this is the most popular Linux distribution out there and best of all, it’s free! However, Ubuntu and other Linux distributions are not without their limitations with the biggest one being user friendliness. Granted, Ubuntu is a big step forward from earlier Linux versions but once we begin using it, we quickly begin to miss the good old Windows. However, it still offers a lot considering it is free and open source. Right out of the box, you get LibreOffice, a free MS Office kind of thing, Mozilla Firefox as your Internet browser, an Mp3 player (This option has to be ticked during the setup) and other basic software. Also, Linux due to its small market share is almost completely free from malware of any kind. Other than that, if you require any commands help, you may refer to our useful commands for Linux section or visit the ever active Linux forums.
Chrome OS from Google is also one of the upcoming open source operating systems to hit the market. It is based on cloud computing with tight integration of all your data with the cloud.
The most common complaint seen in a Windows user is that they get infected with malware and spyware pretty soon. People therefore rely on pirated security suites which may very well be themselves infected with viruses and act as false alarms. Free security software like Microsoft Security Essentials may very well solve the problem. However, Microsoft Security Essentials is only available in Genuine Microsoft Windows so for Linux and “patchy” versions of Windows, we can use Avast, Avira or AVG antivirus. The limitation here is that these free security software are a little low in features but for the average user, these should be enough. Still, this is the only place where we’d recommend a paid software and that would be the Norton Internet Security Suite. It is the winner of AV Labs tests for a consecutive 2 years and it is stuffed with features which you can very well check on the official website.
Adobe Photoshop is the average user’s choice for photo editing and it supports a wide range of functions and advanced photo editing tools. It comes at a very high price which is justified by the numerous high-end applications and functionality. However, the average user does not require any more than basic editing tools like red-eye removal, cropping or photomixing. For all these functions and much more powerful ones also, software like The GIMP or Paint.Net work perfectly. They have enough features, tools and presets to give Photoshop a run for its money; The GIMP even supports PSD file format of Photoshop.
Word Processing Software
What you think you want – Microsoft Word.
What you really need – Apache OpenOffice.org.
MS Office is most users’ choice of Word Processing Software. In many PCs MS Office comes pre-installed with a trial or full version. But, for those who rely on pirated versions of MS Office, OpenOffice.org is the best excuse to shun Piracy. It looks, feels and works just the same as MS Office and you get “Word” namely “Writer”, “Excel” as “Calc”, “Powerpoint” as “Impress” and others such as “Draw”, “Math” and base” with also being free and open source. Best of all, it is compatible with all file formats of MS Office so you don’t have to worry about not being able to run a file from a different source. Also, it comes with a relatively small installer size of 130 MB compared to the bloaty MS Office; a portable version for carrying around is also present.
Mozilla Thunderbird is also a pretty versatile alternative for MS Outlook, that is, if you need an email client.
Video and Sound Editing
Sometimes, all of us require certain tweaks in video or sounds and we rely on costly tools such as Sony Vegas or Adobe Audition. However, for our requirements, open source tools such as Traverso or Audacity for Sound editing or Avidemux or VirtualDub for video editing should suffice. Traverso is a very capable multi track audio editor for Windows, Linux and Mac users with a very easy UI, with shortcut keys for all necessary functions and a very comprehensive online help file; a CD writing module is also inbuilt which eliminates the need of an external burning application to create audio disks.
The capabilities of Avidemux range from simple video editing-cutting scene, which is as simple as Ctrl-X and Ctrl V, to appending videos, to converting across various video formats. VirtualDub is a bit more polished than Avidemux but unlike the former, cannot be run natively on Linux.
Many people use tuneup software like TuneUp Utilities or Ashampoo etc. which promise to boost up our PCs speed or skyrocket the performance. More often than not, however, these tools slow down the PCs even further, especially on older systems, and the features are no more than gimmicks. In reality, we believe that the only tune up tool that we need is the freeware CCleaner and Windows’ built in features. Use CCleaner to clean out the junk, registry entries and uninstall programs, Windows Disk Defragmenter for defragmenting and msconfig.exe (In “Run” window type msconfig and hit Enter button) for disabling startup entries. Some other rarely required features such as recovering deleted files can be gotten from the freeware Recuva and the Windows Style changes can be made from some registry tweaks which are easily available on the Internet. Also the utilities like program deactivator, 1-click boosting, additional antivirus are mere gimmicks which have no real use.
DVD Authoring Tools
Most people use Nero or other paid software to burn files onto DVDs or CDs. However, ImgBurn or CDBurnerXP are free software that do the same work as that of Nero without being bloated and having redundant features such as the inclusion of a music player. The Windows default CD writer is not so bad either when it comes to simple CD burning.
Free software act as worthy alternatives to each category of paid ones and they aren’t low on the feature list also. By using free software, you are not only encouraging more and more developers to develop free software, you are also helping to curb piracy. So, after reading this post, which software did you replace? Do you have any suggestions or do you want free alternatives to any more software? Let us know in the form of comments below.