Friday, July 13, 2012

Software Special: 100% Off

In today's economic climate it is more important than ever to squeeze every ounce of value out of every dime that we spend. For the average computer user, software is a significant portion of their computing expenses. Let's take a look at the software costs for a typical PC user:

Microsoft Windows 7: $100 - $250
Microsoft Office 2010: $100 - $300
Norton Antivirus Software: $40 - $80 per year
Adobe Photoshop: $100 - $1,000

So, after you have already paid for your hardware and Internet connection your software will cost you an additional $340 to $1,630. Considering that the cost of the hardware for a new system is usually between $400 and $1,500, depending on what it will be used for, you can see that software will account for about half of the total cost of a new system.

I'm using the most popular products in each category to come up with these figures. Now, I want to take a look at some alternatives that will cost you exactly nothing. However, we are not going to waste our time considering any and all free software. We are going to focus on programs that are considered by most people to be as good as, or better than, their paid counterparts.

The easiest, and most beneficial, program to switch out for a free version is your antivirus. Norton consistently scores very well on independent lab reviews for antivirus programs. However, it does not blow the competition out of the water. In fact, most reviews rate some of the free alternatives as good, or better, than any of the paid offerings out there. The three highest rated free antivirus programs are Avast, Avira, and AVG in that order. This is a great place to start seeing savings as your paid antivirus programs are subscription, meaning that you pay every year.

Next on the list in terms of ease of transition is your office suite. LibreOffice offers features and designs similar to Microsoft Office, but without the charge. LibreOffice is actively developed, and many reviewers are rating it more feature-rich than Microsoft Office for the casual user. LibreOffice provides programs for Text, Spreadsheet, Database, Presentation and Graphic documents. You don't have to worry about compatibility, as LibreOffice will both open from and save to Microsoft formats. This means that you can still share documents with people using Microsoft Office. If you are looking for replacements for Publisher and Outlook, Scribus and Thunderbird are their free counterparts. It should be noted however that Scribus is not able to use Publisher's formats, so you won't be able to migrate over existing projects.

For touching up your photos, GIMP would be the Photoshop replacement. As with the previous programs, GIMP is more than capable for the casual user. If you do graphic design or photography for a living Photoshop is a bit more robust, but for the rest of us GIMP is all we'll ever need. It also allows you to use your Photoshop brushes, though some filters won't transfer over.

The last free option I'm going to discuss is Linux. If there is one piece of software that you're going to pay for, I suggest paying for Windows. There is a substantial learning curve in moving to the Linux operating system. That being said, people that have made the leap find that though different, it is just as robust as Windows. If you are interested in migrating to Linux, I suggest that you speak with somebody that is experienced with it. Please feel free to contact me, as I have been using Linux almost exclusively for 6 years and am always interested in sharing the benefits that it has offered me with others.

The fact of the matter is that software is a multibillion dollar a year industry. The top technology companies these days are all software companies. This is despite the fact that there are perfectly good free alternatives to most of their products. The free alternatives that I have shared today are just that, they are alternatives. They will not look and behave exactly the same as their paid counterparts. However, they can perform just as well. I have been successfully moving people to free software for over 10 years now and rarely have I gotten a complaint. If you have any questions about any of the programs discussed today or the process of migrating to them please feel free to email me at I will be happy to help you determine if free software can be a fit for you.

Links to mentioned software:
List of various versions of Linux


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  2. When people buy computer then they also need software to do many things because without software people can't use computer in proper way and antivirus software is very essential when you use internet.

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