The Free Software Foundation

During the past few years a number of people have been caught out by the abrupt end of their free trial of Microsoft Office software.  Most have been blissfully ignorant of the messages that they only had a 60 day trial version, and once that ran out they lost access to all the documents they had saved.  One or two went on to buy Microsoft Office complaining about the cost of it, while others didn’t have the money to pay for it.  As someone who spends just about all day and night on computers I offered advice to those in this position to download OpenOffice – a free alternative to Microsoft Office, and one that would allow them to open at least some of the files they thought they had lost.  I did however download it for a couple of people who have used it many times since.

Recently the whole argument of free software has been brought to my attention as much of what is available has been developed into real alternatives to their paid counterparts.  I came across the Free Software Foundation which promotes both the use and development of free software.  In fact they state that the best way to support their not-for-profit organisation is to:

“…use free software on your own computer and advocate within your business or community for others to adopt it.”

Here in the UK and also in the USA where the recession still has somewhat of a stranglehold on business and commerce, free software could well be all many will be able to afford, if they can afford a computer in the first place.  The rise of the tablet computers, netbooks and smartphones has opened up access to the internet to many who would otherwise not be able to afford it, however, the importance of free software seems to be increasing as the cost of living takes away any spare money for paid alternatives.

Free Software

There are so many ways to get free software these days from open source to shareware and also trial software.  Probably the most comprehensive list I have ever come across is this one from Money Saving Expert, edited by Martin Lewis.  Included are a few office alternatives, audio packages, photo and image editing packages and more.  As I posted earlier if you are a student in a University that is signed up with Microsoft you can also access lots of free Microsoft packages.

Online storage is available from Dropbox, or use Googledocs, Windows Live, and more for free.

Taking Control of Your Computer

These days when you buy a computer it tends to come with several programs installed.  Most popular programs include Norton AntiSpyware, MacAfee Security, Microsoft Works or a trial version of Microsoft Office, Links to various help manuals and more.  While a lot of the software needed to run your computer is free you find that after a while the 60 day trial version of Microsoft Office is up, but you have used it to create documents.  So your choice is to pay around £99 for the Home and Student version or lose your documents.  DON’T!!!!!

There is a free office suite called Openoffice which you can download for nothing and it should be able to allow you read those documents that you set up in Microsoft Office.

Norton is considered one of the top programs for fighting viruses and keeping your computer clean.  However, you have to renew your licence on an annual basis and again, if money is tight, there is usually at least one free program which will do as good a job as Norton.  There are a couple of free antivirus programs I like to use and recommend.  The first is Avast, which tends to work really well with slightly older computers, and the second is AVG.  Both Avast and AVG have free options though they state you must be a non-commercial user to use these.  So next time your license is up for your antivirus, consider downloading one of the freebies.

Next time I’ll share how I get rid of spyware adware and malware using a tool which I have used free for years!!!