The 7 Best Free Open Source Programs To Replace Commercial Windows Software

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free open source softwareAlthough Windows is not a free operating system, it has become a standard simply because it comes pre-installed with most new computers. In the past, this meant you also had to get matching commercial software, which often came at a hefty price tag. Fortunately, the open source movement and the Internet changed the game.

Today there are many free open source software options, and often cross-platform alternatives to costly Windows software. In this article I have summarized the most important free open source alternatives to standard commercial Windows programs.

LibreOffice replaces Microsoft Office

LibreOffice was founded by former developers of OpenOffice over concerns that Oracle would turn it into a commercial product. In April this year, however, Oracle announced that it would discontinue commercial development of OpenOffice and make it a purely community-based project [Wikipedia]. Nevertheless, LibreOffice has become an alternative for both OpenOffice and Microsoft Office.

Like its commercial counterpart, LibreOffice comes with a word processor (Writer), a spreadsheet program (Calc), a presentation tool (Impress), a databases manager (Base), and a lot more. It is fully compatible with standard Microsoft Office file formats but users must remember to save or export their files in the respective format.

free open source software

LibreOffice’s number one competitor is of course OpenOffice.

Further reading:

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Mozilla Thunderbird replaces Windows Live Mail

Mozilla’s Thunderbird is an easy to set up desktop mail client that supports extensions and hence can do many tricks that Windows Live Mail still needs to learn. Unfortunately, it still isn’t an alternative for anyone who depends on syncing (Outlook) contact data from or to mobile devices.

open source programs

Further reading:

Inkscape replaces CorelDraw & Adobe Illustrator

Inkscape is a vector graphics editor that uses the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format, supporting many advanced SVG features, including markers, clones, and alpha blending. It is rather intuitive to use, which makes it a great tool for beginners.

open source programs

Another free open source alternative for CorelDraw is Draw from the OpenOffice package or Draw from the LibreOffice package.

Further reading:

GIMP replaces Adobe Photoshop

GIMP, an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a cross platform graphics editor, which can serve as a simple paint program, but also supports advanced features, such as photo retouching, batch processing, or image format conversion.

open source software

Another option for Windows users is Paint.NET, which some say is easier to use than GIMP, especially if you are not looking for advanced features.

Further reading:

Blender replaces 3ds Max

Blender is a cross-platform 3D content creation suite that supports modeling, animation, rendering, a game engine, and much more. The Blender homepage features a thorough collection of tutorials and a list of movies that were created with the program.

open source software

Further reading:

BRL-CAD replaces AutoCAD

BRL-CAD is a cross-platform open source modeling software that supports interactive geometry editing, high-performance ray-tracing for rendering and geometric analysis, image and system processing tools, and more. The program has been developed for an impressive 20+ years.

open source software

Another alternative to AutoCAD is LibreCAD.

Further reading:

7-Zip replaces WinZip or WinRAR

7-Zip is a file compression/decompression tool that supports many archive formats and also comes bundled with a lightweight file manager.

free open source software

You might also want to check out the open source file and archive manager PeaZip, which comes as a portable and full version for 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows and Linux.

Further reading:

A full list of free and open source software can be found on Wikipedia.

What was the last program you paid money for and why?

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Comments (40)
  • Joe Albertson

    BRL-CAD sucks, use Blender.

  • Joe Albertson

    BRL-CAD: Not impressed. Installed it, messed with it for an hour, and dumped it.

    I’ve used CAD programs before. If I can’t look at some basic documentation and start creating and doing basic edits on 3-D objects within a half-hour of installing the software, it’s worthless. The tutorials show you how to load up preloaded objects but they don’t show you how to create or edit anything on your own. All I wanted to do was connect a few line segments, revolve it around an axis to get a 3-D object, and create some surface features like a radius, fillet, and a chamfer. I can’t invest years into learning how to do use this program, the people who write documentation really need to think about that. They need to think, “OK, if I just installed the program, know NOTHING about it, and was looking at a blank pallette, what would I tell a person to get them started and doing some basic day-1 modeling?”

    The problem is that the documentation was written by and for people who have worked with this program for a decade or more and already know everything about this software. For the newbie, there’s nothing usable here. I had to dump it and move on.

  • desbest

    replaces? That is very questionable. I prefer the 7 commercial software competitors.

  • Entropic Books

    I’ve used Paint.net with some luck, but I should probably give Gimp another shot.I use 7zip all the time and Open Office instead of Word, though I use Google Docs more frequently.

  • Entropic Books

     I’ve used Paint.net with some luck, but I should probably give Gimp another shot.I use 7zip all the time and Open Office instead of Word, though I use Google Docs more frequently.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.