Free software alternatives to the big boys expensive programs!

Thats right people, it has been my experience that there is free software that is as good or better than what you get from the “big boys”! I am not going to mention any names here but you can take a guess who the “big boys” are. The “big boys” like Microsoft do make some good software that is widely used, but then again some if it may have problems. This web site is being designed on a personal computer running Windows98 so obviously I do use some of the “big boys” products and this article is not going to just be about bashing M$.

What is free software and why did I start using free software?

That is a very good question and I am glad you asked. You were asking weren't you? A few years ago the klez virus attacked my computer. Since I had moved several times since purchasing the software the original install compact disks were not to be found. Well that was not too much of a problem; just buy the newest version of Microsoft office and Frontpage95. Well there the deadly dance began! You see the newest versions of these softwares were not compatible with my older operating system. That should be a problem that could be solved with spending some more money, except the newest operating system caused some older hardware and older software (for my digital camera and printer) to fail. This desktop personal computer is still running Windows98 just fine thank you! This is how the search for free software began. What do I mean by free software? For this purposes I am only including programs that can be downloaded for free and are fully functional without any annoying time limits or nagging reminders to purchase.


OpenOffice.org is a free office suite of programs that has all of the commonly needed modules such as a word processor, a spreadsheet, a graphical drawing program, a wysiwyg web page designer and a presentation designer. This should be enough for most people and in fact I am using it to write this article! This office suite is an open source project that will function just fine on several combinations of operating systems and hardware. While I certainly am not a power spreadsheet user this OpenOffice.org spreadsheet has done everything I have needed. This suite can import many of the file formats used by the “big boys” office suites as well as export to those file formats and pdf files also. Oh, by the way did I mention that it is FREE!

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is a free web browser that is in fact just flat out better than MSIE that all the windows machines come bundled with.. Why is it better? The first reason is that it is more secure and stops those annoying pop up windows. For some reason Microsoft starts out embracing world wide standards and then seemingly changes strategy and does their own thing. You can decide for yourself as to why this “big boy” chooses to follow this path! The end result is that the Microsoft Internet Explorer does not follow the HTML standards set up by the World Wide Web Consortium and will not display many web pages correctly beside exposing you to security risks. Mozilla Firefox lets the user set up their own Cascading Style Sheets to control how they chose to display web pages. Many good web sites supply you with a choice of how you want the pages to look; MSIE does not enable you to select the alternative styles. How sad that the “big boys” want to try to force everybody to play by their own rules! Sorry, I guess this is a little bit of bashing going on here. Also the free Mozilla Firefox has many available plug in programs that greatly help anybody interested in website design.


HTML-Kit is a free web page designing program that is very well regarded by web designers. This program also has many plug in programs that help with HTML validation and a spell checker! If you have used a “what you see is what you get” web page designer you may be surprised to find that you pages will not pass validation by the World Wide Web Consortium. Another problem with wysiwyg web page designers is that if you go in and tweak the HTML code and then open the page again in the wysiwyg designer it reformats the code undoing all the work you have just done. This HTML-Kit helps you write concise code and will tidy up the HTML so that the pages pass validation and load faster! I am using this program to finish this page and if you want to click on the W3C link at the bottom you will see that it does pass validation. Once more, did I mention that it is FREE!

Well I do hope you are viewing this page using the free Mozilla Firefox browser and that the other free software mentioned on this page suits your needs. I have used them all in the process of making this page! If you chose to spend money on software then look to the right column for purchasing links!

This article by Douglas J. Rasor
04-Feb-2005 01:05 AM

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