> Free Software Alternatives
Last updated: June 6, 2007 

By Sree Sreenivasan
Columbia New Media Professor & WNBC-TV Tech Reporter


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Free Software Alternatives
In every category of mainstream, consumer software, there are free alternatives to the established, dominant players. They are constantly getting better and, in some cases, they are almost as good as the expensive products they replace. Still, approach these carefully and see if they are for you.

They come in three major categories: 

  • open-source projects you download onto your computer, built collaboratively and improved by developers around the world (the Firefox browser is the best-known example, with 100 million+ users worldwide)
  •  web-based projects which involve no downloading; you do all your work on the Internet, accessing (and storing) your work anywhere in the world (the best-known example is Google Docs & Spreadsheets - formerly Writely)
  • personal editions of existing software; they want you to use it at home at no charge and get your company to buy the corporate version (these are most common in products that protect your computer such as anti-virus, firewall and anti-spyware)

Open-Source Downloads (most work on Windows & Mac)

Web-based, online software

Personal editions of existing software

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