Free Software comparison


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When choosing a computer, software programs can be one of the most influential decisions of your entire purchase. By determining how you will use the computer you can choose which software will be the best for you and what computer hardware you will need to run it it.  

Many know that often a computer's cost can skyrocket from software alone but the good thing is that now more than ever there are options in software for a variety of applications and budgets.

For simplicity of this blog will start off by comparing and contrasting Windows XP / Vista, Mac OS X, and Ubuntu Linux based software.

Operating Systems:

These are arguably the major piece of software in your computer. It will identify your computer as PC or Mac, which means it will identify, what hardware it will run on, which programs you can use on it and what kinds of peripherals accessories you will be able to purchase with it.

Windows XP / Vista: Installed in most new PC computers and can be installed on PC computers built from parts.
OS X: Installed on Macs only, upgrade discs are for Mac only
Ubuntu Linux: - Free offers a graphical interface able to install on PCs, PC computers built from parts, as well as Mac OS X (with a virtual machine or dual boot options)

Productivity Suites:

Microsoft Office:  
Pros - Industry Standard  
Cons - It's expensive and like most Microsoft products comes in several versions. 

iWork:  
Pros - Cheaper than Microsoft Office,  
Cons - For Macs only 

OpenOffice.org
Pros - It's free and fully functional.
Cons – It’s not the industry standard (yet), since it has to be installed on the machine by an administrator it may or may not be installed on public computers.

Google Docs
Pros - It's free, works on any computer with compatible web browser.  
Cons - you files are on Google’s servers not yours.

Email Clients:

Microsoft Outlook:
Pros - It's an industry standard. Once your emails are downloaded they are on your own local computer.  
Cons – It costs money. You can only view your emails on the computer Outlook is installed on and you must setup every email account.

Mozilla Thunderbird:
Pros - It's free and offers most of the functionality as Outlook as well as being able to sync with Google calendar (via you own setup). Once your emails are downloaded they are on your own local computer.  
Cons – You can only view your emails on the computer thunderbird is installed on and you must setup every email account.

Web Based Email:

Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, etc.
Pros - It's free, works on any computer with compatible web browser and internet connection.  
Cons – As if you spam email isn’t enough you are bombarded with advertisements which is why the service is free. Your archived emails and files are saved on a server at who knows where collecting bits and pieces about your internet habits to serve you relevant ads.