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Although 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.
LibreOffice’s number one competitor is of course OpenOffice.
- LibreOffice – A Free Office Suite For Windows, Linux & Mac
- Useful Free Open Office Templates To Make You More Productive
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.
- How To Set Up Mozilla Thunderbird For Auto-Responses & Scheduled Emails
- How To Set Up Mozilla Thunderbird 3 For Multiple Email Accounts
- How To Terminally Delete eMails In Thunderbird By Compacting Folders
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.
Another free open source alternative for CorelDraw is Draw from the OpenOffice package or from the LibreOffice package.
- 10 Awesome Free Tools To Make Infographics
- 4 Great Applications for the Graphic Designer on a Budget
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.
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.
- 5 Websites To Learn GIMP Online
- Top 10 Beginner Video Tutorials To Learn GIMP Fast
- GIMP Paint Studio: A Great Addition To Make GIMP A Digital Artist’s Playground
- How To Create An Image Map Using Paint.NET
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 ofand a list of that were created with the program.
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.
Another alternative to AutoCAD is LibreCAD.
- Free CAD Drawing For Linux, Windows & Mac Using LibreCAD
- How To Convert AutoCAD Drawings Into PDF Files With DWGgateway
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.
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.
- 7Zip – A Free Program to Unzip Uncommon Archive Formats
- PeaZip – A Fantastic Free Alternative To WinRAR Or WinZip
- 2 Alternative File Managers You Should Really Check Out
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?