For many decades, computer software has been divided into two categories, paid and free. While it is still commonly accepted that free software or freeware is not very good, that is not the best way to judge software.

Some free software is written by one individual, while others have a whole team dedicated to them. Quite a lot of freeware has been around for many years or even decades. While it can be difficult to discover the value of many programs, the finding of them is very useful. In fact, there are not many commercial programs that do not have free or open source equivalents.

In the business world, it ofttimes makes more sense to use commercial programs as regular consultations and support are part of those packages. And it is convenient to have “someone to blame” when things go wrong.

For the majority of freeware, users are “on their own” with little vendor support available. But, well written and documented free software programs exist in significant numbers and should be examined to see if they will work for you or your business.

I will be discussing a few key freeware programs by their categories and in the near future, go into more depth for each one.

Categories of software and popular entries in each:

Office SuiteLibreOfficeA complete office suite that started as a fork of OpenOffice over 10 years ago.
OpenOfficeAn older office suite formerly known as StarOffice which was created by Star Division in Germany in 1986. Then it became Open Source through Sun Microsystems starting in 1999.
WPS OfficeA suite created 33 years ago in China which has grown in popularity.
Calligra SuiteAn office suite that started on Linux. It has a number of modules that are not available in other suites. It runs best on Linux OS.

By Michael Todd

An IT Professional with over 30 years of experience with PC setup & troubleshooting, programming, consulting and the use of the most popular business applications. This is all about making the technology do the most for you, so you have more time to enjoy life.

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