Free Open Source Counterparts of Windows Software

Varun Kashyap 28-05-2008

open source logo Why would you want to have Open Source software on your computer? Let’s consider a few reasons:

(1) First reason that every one thinks of is that Open Source software is free of cost, well it certainly is about 95% of the time but it can be paid too although the license will be less restrictive. Nevertheless it can save you hundreds of dollars.

(2) Another often overlooked aspect is that you can have full access to the source code of the software. This is a great blessing for someone who needs the ultimate customization.

(3) You can actually help in the development by fixing bugs, releasing your changes to the code (in accordance with the license of course).

(4) They may also offer more features then their commercial counterparts.

With that out of the way, lets get to the fun part and lets save some bucks. I will be giving information on my personal favorites (which would generally mean BETTER) open source replacements. There are however other choices as well, so drop a line or two if our choices differ!

Microsoft Office ==> OpenOffice
OpenOffice provides a great alternative to Microsoft Office. The complete suite comes with a word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), presentation (Impress), drawing and graphing tool (Draw), tool for creating equations and formulae (Math) and finally a database tool which also builds reports and forms (Base). All components are multi-platform and multilingual. Its available for Windows, Linux, Mac and Solaris.
Download here


Microsoft Outlook Express ==> Mozilla Thunderbird
Thunderbird is a full-featured open source email client which provides an excellent open source alternative to all commercial email clients. Thunderbird offers a large features set, some of which are: support for POP and IMAP, built-in RSS support and spell checking. Thunderbird also has an integrated usenet news reader. The user-interface is completely customizable. Did I mention the many add-ons you can have 10 Must-Have Thunderbird Addons (+ 25 More) Thunderbird lives on. This desktop email client thrives because of its many customization options. These must-have Thunderbird addons will help you make the most of it. Read More ?
Download here

Microsoft Internet Explorer ==> Mozilla Firefox (Relax, I know you are using it)
Firefox needs no introduction, still I will try – Firefox is an advanced browser built with its roots in the old Netscape browser. Today Firefox offers tabbed browsing, live bookmarks, many search extensions and many other extensions and toolbars. The support for Firefox by commercial companies is growing – and this is clearly seen by the number of extensions/toolbars they develop. So how did I do?
Download here

Winzip or WinRAR ==> 7-Zip
7-Zip is an excellent file archiver that can easily replace Winzip and WinRAR on your machine. It has a high compression ratio. It supports the following formats for packing/unpacking: 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR – and the following for unpacking only: RAR, CAB, ARJ, LZH, CHM, Z, CPIO, RPM and DEB. It integrates well into the Windows shell( right click menu). Also 7-Zip is available in 60 languages.
Download here

Microsoft Visio ==> Dia
Dia can be used to draw many different kinds of diagrams. It currently has special objects to help draw entity relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flow charts, network diagrams, and simple circuits. It is also possible to add support for new shapes by writing simple XML files, using a subset of SVG to draw the shape. It can load and save diagrams to a variety of formats
Download here


JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA or Other Commercial IDE’s ==> Eclipse
Java based IDE which aims to be a universal development toolkit. Even though it has it’s roots in Java eclipse’s plug-in base allows it to edit files for almost any environment including but not limited web, c/c++ and of course Java.
Download here

Nero ==> InfraRecorder
InfraRecorder is an easy to use CD and DVD burner application. It supports virtually all different formats including rewritable disc, multi-session disc and dual-layer DVDs. Also audio CDs can be created with just a few simple drag drops in InfraRecorder. Other important features include disc copying, audio CD ripping and ISO generation and burning images. InfraRecorder is available in more than 20 languages.
Download here

Free Open Source Counterparts of Windows Software 1536393429 aa890fa816

VMware or Microsoft Virtual PC ==> VirtualBox
VirtualBox allows you to run a guest operating system on your PC, in this case either Windows or Linux based. The guest operating system support covers most Windows (including Vista) and Linux versions. VirtualBox is a very stable tool. I have run Ubuntu inside Windows without any problems. Networking, Clipboard, Disk Management are all seamless.
Download here

Microsoft Remote Desktop for Windows ==> TightVNC
TightVNC is an open source remote desktop application. It allows you to control a graphical user session on a machine remotely through the network. Both VNC server and client runs on multiple platforms. You just need to run the server on the machine you want to access and use the TightVNC viewer to access the system remotely. Some extra features like send special key strokes, file transfers and fullscreen view are also very handy.
Download here


Microsoft Internet Information Services ==> Apache HTTP Server
Apache HTTP Server is the most deployed and used web server on the Internet. It is always up-to-date with the latest HTTP standards – and runs on any modern operating system. Apache is secure. There are plenty of extendable modules available that make it even more lucrative choice to the MS IIS. Not to mention the packages that bundle together Apache, perl, php, Mysql, Filezilla, Mercury mail. Definitely one of my personal favorites.
Download here

Pheew.. that’s some information. But wait I am not finished yet, keep visiting often and check back because soon we will be replacing the complete Adobe Creative Suite with open source software!

(By) Varun Kashyap – “A Tech Enthusiast, Programmer and Blogger”. Check out “Varun Kashyap’s Tech Crazy Blog” here

Related topics: Microsoft, Remote Desktop, Virtualization.

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  1. Rahul Pratap Singh
    January 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Great List


  2. Me
    January 9, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Great list! And yes about Opera, its certainly better than Firefox. What if its not Open Source, its the best.

  3. Daphne
    October 2, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Here is Daphne, an ( open source task manager replacement

  4. SEM
    September 10, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Thanks for posting, I wasn't really sure what all the fuss was about open source. I certainly understood the concept, and why it would be useful in theory, but this helped with the in practice part. That said, if you're stuck on Open Office, you know it's just not quite the same as MS Office. Minor differences here and there do add up to some problems.

  5. boy
    July 14, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    sorry, you understand? i like the all who be...ok now?!

  6. boy
    July 14, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    i don't need this...i like the it so it...

  7. political info
    June 30, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Virtualbox is not Open Source, for one. VirtualBox exists in two editions, where one is open source GPL and one is proprietary.

  8. Thompson@Cheap computer
    February 11, 2009 at 1:54 am

    The open source counterparts are truly very helpful ,free and save's our time too.

  9. tips photo
    February 4, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks for sharing this list. These are great alternatives.

  10. Anthony
    June 27, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I would agree to some extent ...even I dont see any advantages to using Opera

    • Christo
      February 14, 2009 at 9:53 pm

      Heres just one: Opera has its own bitTorrent installed.
      Want more? Fine!

      •Speed dial
      •Acid test compliancy 85%
      •Small file size
      •Simplistic refined programming
      (Difficult to crash)

      Shall I keep going?

  11. thompson
    June 23, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Opera is even worse than Internet Explorer itself let alon comparing it with Mozilla Firefox !

    • Christo
      February 14, 2009 at 9:49 pm

      You must be joking. Opera while not as widespread as Firefox is just as good in most areas, not to mention it could eat InternetExploders rendering for breakfast!
      Terrible uninformed comment.

  12. Manu Aggarwal
    May 31, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Hey buddy... its a great list and quite useful for some users. But i think that instead of using open source softwares only, one should also use their commercial counterparts..

    1. The commercial softwares are free from bugs (unlike open source).

    2. Online help and tutorials are available to use these softwares.

    3. Most of the organizations use commercial products. It'll help you get a job easily.

    4. Who cares about the source code of the product.?? Most users only care about their work and the software which easily helps them is the best one for them.

    5. Commercial softwares too have constant updates and releases and provide customization facilities to users to some extent.

    6. Lastly,due to peer sharing facilities (like torrents) all commercial softwares can be downloaded free of cost without spending a buck..[:)]..illegal ofcourse but who cares...

    I may be wrong somewhere but i believe the user must try different softwares (open source or not) and use the one which best suits to his/her requirements...
    Have a nice day..

  13. multippt
    May 30, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    I still prefer some of Microsoft's products over those free alternatives though, such as Microsoft Office which offers slightly more than what OpenOffice does. Nonetheless, I have to admit that open source can be compared to its commercial counterparts in terms of quality. Perhaps one day open source would become so influencial that even Microsoft have to acknowledge that open source is great.

  14. Pavan
    May 30, 2008 at 9:25 am

    Really very good alternatives! Thanks a ton for sharing with us.

  15. Rackett
    May 30, 2008 at 1:18 am

    What's a good alternative to Microsoft Money- Home or Small Business?
    I am not going to try to code my own in a spreadsheet program.

  16. Monica
    May 29, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    A good list of alternatives.. Will try most of them..!!

  17. maks
    May 29, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    for remote desktop
    there are better alternatives
    rdesktop for linux and cord for OS X
    and they both support RDP protocol (the one used by remote desktop)

  18. no one important
    May 29, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Acrobat Reader ===> Sumatra

  19. skillyb
    May 29, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Good list. I have a good one that got missed. For desktop publishing, instead of using PageMaker or Quark, give SCRIBUS a try. It's a nice solution and it's available for Win / Mac / Linux.

  20. Eric
    May 29, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    I'll use Open Source when it is a better product than commercial versions. I don't see the reason why I would want to compromise on features, performance, usability or accepted standards if I can acquire superior commercial versions for little or no cash.

    That being said, there are some notable Open Source packages that do meet or exceed high-quality commercial versions.

    Open Office vs. Microsoft Office -- it can do the same things, but it still feels like a second class experience. OO has (still) messed up a couple of my documents, despite other improvements. If I didn't have Microsoft Office, I would definitely use it.

    Outlook Express is crap. Thunderbird is a worthy replacement, but is no Outlook (full version).

    Mozilla is a good replacement for IE, however it is a memory leaky bloatware. Opera is free and a nice alternative, however it is not open source.

    7-zip = GREAT SOFTWARE! This is a true (and superior) replacement as it supports many popular formats aside from the 7z format (which is also good, but a bit obscure still).

    Apache really isn't a replacement for IIS either. It is a competing product. IIS has proven itself to be MORE secure than Apache as of the previous two years, however they do not both run the same kinds of applications. If you own a Microsoft server, there really isn't any reason to not use IIS unless it is an application compatibility issue. There was a time this was not true, but Microsoft has gotten their act together in this area. IIS 7 is restructured with a new focus on security and managibility and it has paid off so far.

    Any VNC client really isn't a replacement for Microsoft Remote Desktop, as they speak different protocols. You cannot speak to Microsoft Remote Desktop hosts. They do similar things, however (to my knowledge) the VNC clients do not speak the RDP protocol to connect to Microsoft servers. It is a good competing technology, but not really a replacement as this would limit which servers you could connect to.

    The commercial free solutions from VMWare and Microsoft are quite good. I can't imagine a scenario where an open source solution for these products could be superior. VMWare > Microsoft.

    I will have to check out InfraRecorder, sounds interesting!

  21. Shawn Wildermuth
    May 29, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Unfortunately, Office and Outlook Open Source alternatives are fine for casual users but OpenOffice's word processing doesn't do rich editing (e.g. change tracking, commenting or handle complex document management) nearly well enough for professional authors. Thunderbird is ok, but doesn't have built-in calendar or task tracking (the tacked-on calendar stuff that can be added via an add-in is simply too weak) and Thunderbird does hot handle large amounts of mail well. I've never been able to get it to load all my Outlook data correctly.

    • ShiBen
      June 6, 2008 at 12:08 am

      I can't say that I have "hard" evidence to refute your claims in regards to Thunderbird, but I have been using Thunderbird with the Lightning calendar and task system add-on for as long as both have been available and have had no problems whatsoever with my many accounts, folders, feeds, and thousands of emails stretching back for many years. While there may have been some issues and lack of features from the get go, at this stage of the game I would pit both against their Micro$oft counterparts with no hesitation. Without naming them all, I'd say that Thunderbird actually has more features and abilities than Outlook, especially with the many plugins available, and is certainly a lot more web 2.0 friendly. The only thing that I see Outlook having over Thunderbird is the ability to connect with an Exchange server for advanced email and calendaring. ...Of course, if you tie Thunderbird and Lightning to a Google apps for domains account, you can pretty much get the same thing (at least for a smaller group of people).

      I do agree with you on your Open Office comment, though...but only if you are constantly collaborating on and editing documents.

  22. David McKendrick
    May 29, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Or you could hop on over to and get an entirely thorough list -- along with every possible open source alternative :)

  23. Xander Harris
    May 29, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Great post...I love open source software. One program that I recently stumbled on that has really helped my productivity with so many microsoft programs is KallOut. Hard to describe but easy to use

  24. blooblood
    May 29, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    What's a good alternative to MSProject?

    • Varun Kashyap
      May 30, 2008 at 2:28 am

      Try openproj or ganttproj

      Have not tried these just googled!

      • Alan
        May 31, 2008 at 12:10 am

        GanttProject does not have resource handling which is essential for anything serious. OpenProject does have resource management and is a very good tool. But you can manage only ONE project at a time unless you get Project-on-Demand which costs you $10 per user per month. This may not be a restriction if you only want to manage one project at a time but this means it is unsuitable for professional project management (or programme management) it it's open-source form.And I'm not sure that the source is actually available ...

  25. OmegaWolf747
    May 29, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    If you just need a word processor and not a whole office suite, I recommend AbiWord, which is almost an exact clone of MS Word, but is free and much smaller.

  26. brewman
    May 29, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I hope you're not planning on listing GIMP as a replacement for Photoshop. That's like replacing a nuclear bomb with a hand grenade.

    • Ranseus
      May 29, 2008 at 5:11 pm


    • Kosai
      May 29, 2008 at 5:29 pm

      Yeah, all of these guides claim to be able to replace Adobe's Software Suite and they put in Gimp and Inkscape. Anyone who uses this type of software knows both are WAY WAY far off... If you are a casual user and don't know what Adobe's software can do and how, it could probably work out for you but if you need a design suite professionally (as in your job is being a designer), the ultimate and only solution I know of is get your boss to pay for it.

      For the record, I use open office and many of those listed and find it to meet all my needs, so not knocking open source... but if your career revolves around Office then my guess is you will end up needing to own a (hopefully corporately bought) copy Office.

    • Andrés
      May 30, 2008 at 12:09 am

      I hope you’re not planning on listing GIMP as a replacement for Photoshop. That’s like replacing a nuclear bomb with a hand grenade.

      Well, for a professional that might be true. But if you do some picture edition as a hobby GIMP is a quite capable software. Lots of people are just used to photoshop and never give GIMP a real chance.

  27. John Thomas
    May 29, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Open Source Software RULES! It should all be open source.


  28. Z-man
    May 29, 2008 at 10:46 am

    I've been using UltraVNC for a while now. Not sure how it' s possible to get much better as far as VNC software goes.

    • Lee Mathews
      May 29, 2008 at 3:07 pm

      I gotta agree....UVNC has a lot of features that tightvnc lacks...Most annoyingly, tightvnc doesn't have a right-click option to send the Windows Key, and Uvnc does. That's a MAJOR advantage in my book. Also it supports scaling, which is nice when connecting to a high-res remote.

  29. mrcool
    May 29, 2008 at 2:10 am

    Seriously, you put IIS / Apache on the list? What was the point of that? Most people don't run their own server. Most ISP's prohibit it. And if you were running a server, you would probably run the same one that your site is hosted on, if you keep a local mirror and for offline dev purposes. Very weird entry on the list.

    • Varun Kashyap
      May 29, 2008 at 7:07 am

      He he :) Always ready to replace Microsoft stuff. By the way I use it for ajax, php development.

    • Mackenzie
      May 29, 2008 at 10:33 am

      Some people are sysadmins. Some people might want to set up an intranet site for the company's usage. They'd need a server.

    • Cozmo
      May 29, 2008 at 3:23 pm

      >>Seriously, you put IIS / Apache on the list?

      Yeah. Web based apps like netjuke rock.

      Lots of uber geeks come here too.

    • somerandomnerd
      May 30, 2008 at 4:14 am

      Maybe it's because it's a list of open source counterparts to Windows software, and IIS is Windows software? (Software that was used by enough people to kill Netscape's business model…)

  30. waffles54
    May 29, 2008 at 1:24 am

    It seems like piracy is the best alternative to all according to the usage stats

  31. Carsten Ullrich
    May 29, 2008 at 1:18 am

    For Adobe, please tell us how to get rid of Adobe Acrobat, while still being able to comment & markup.

  32. David
    May 29, 2008 at 12:26 am

    this is great, we've been kicking this around in our office here to try to give a low cost alternative to people getting started. I'm sure you'll hit GIMP for graphics. I wonder does anyone have anything aside from SketchUp for CAD?

    • Varun Kashyap
      May 29, 2008 at 7:03 am

      I was waiting for someone to touch CAD, actually I don't know this one. SketchUp? mmm.. its free but haven't tried the paid version so can't say. Its definitely not open source. Has anyone used any open source CAD solution?

      • Mackenzie Morgan
        May 30, 2008 at 12:49 am

        On Linux, qcad is supposed to be acceptable...there are a bunch of them out there, really, but that was the one I saw being called the most featureful, I think.

  33. Varun Kashyap
    May 28, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Yes I forgot Windows Media Player ==> VLC or foobar and iTunes ==> Songbird

    As for the Adobe products, Its great to see the suggestions coming up but in part 2 of the article is already on its way as we speak (coming up shortly) where we say Goodbye to Adobe Creative Suite! Keep checking and providing better alternatives!

  34. Stimul8d
    May 29, 2008 at 4:25 am

    For an open source Remote Desktop util you could certainly use RoyalTS at I use it daily instead of the default mstsc.exe . Obviously it still uses the same engine and at a guess just embeds the original COM object but it's a MUCH nicer environment and improves on the feauture set of MSTSC massively.

  35. FekketCantenel
    May 28, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, ICQ, mIRC, and more -> Pidgin

    Yes, most of those are free, but some (curse you, AIM!) have ads, and mIRC has a nag screen until you crack it.

  36. ameo
    May 28, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    i'd rather thinking of opera instead on firefox and thunderbird and pidgin

    and as for nero ..infra recoder is good but CDburnerXP is better

    • MeToo
      May 29, 2008 at 6:17 pm

      I'm also far more inclined to recommend Opera, for numerous reasons.

      But unfortunately, Opera is not Open Source, which means that for a vast number of zealots, it's not even worth consideration.

      (And besides, this whole article is specifically about Open Source alternatives, so they couldn't really include Opera even if they wanted to).

      That's okay, though. We'll keep using Opera :-)

      • Ted
        May 29, 2008 at 10:25 pm

        Open Opera, and Firefox. Then compare how much space is taken up by Opera's tool/menu bars versus Firefox. I tried to like Opera, but the wasted screen space is just too much.

  37. Famf
    May 28, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    A few more, but I don't think they're Open Source. They are free, though.
    Windows Media Player => Combined Community Codec Pack
    Windows Media Player (music) => Foobar
    Paint/Photoshop => PaintDotNet

    These are Open Source, however.
    iTunes => Songbird
    Paint/Photoshop => The Gimp
    3dsMax => Blender

  38. alfred
    May 28, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    good list but like mark said you are missing some:

    Windows Media Player => VLC
    Windows Live Messenger => Pidgin

    These are just two which I could come up really quick, but if I think hard there will follow more.

    Great post none the less.

    • Shortshire
      May 29, 2008 at 5:15 pm

      I was going to say those. Next time i'll beat you to the punch.

  39. Mark O'Neill
    May 28, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    You missed out Audacity which is a really great open source recording program.

    • Varun Kashyap
      May 28, 2008 at 6:08 pm

      No I didn't Mark.. See in the end it says "check back soon when we replace Adobe Creative Suite"?
      oops.. did I blow off the suspense..

      • Alex
        January 9, 2010 at 7:57 am

        i really want to see that because we all know what they replace photoshop with but i want alternatives to after effects and other high power video editing software.