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.