January 26, 2011

Stock Your New Computer...Free!

Buying a computer these days is like an a la carte menu...click a button get a wireless keyboard, new software suite, headset, etc. You came into get a new computer and you leave with $2,000+ worth of hardware and software bundles that you're probably never going to use.  Fortunately, there are lots of high-quality software alternatives available out there. Check out some of these before your next computer purchase:

Google Docs is free software as a service alternative to the traditional Microsoft Office Suite.  Currently it offers a word processor, spreadsheet/databases, web forms, presentations, and drawings.  The features are not quite as robust as the Office Suite just yet, but they are rapidly growing.  One of the great things about software as a service is everybody gets all updates, and in this case they're free! No more buying the newest edition every 6 months!  Google Docs also offers unique tools that integrate content from the web into your documents (ie YouTube videos, stocks/stats, data security, etc).  Open Office also provides a free option for folks who still want to download and install something on their machine.  This won't set you back any money and does a pretty darn good job, all things considered.

Pixlr is an extremely powerful web-based photo/graphics editor that competes pretty strongly against the likes of PhotoShop and Paint Shop Pro.  You can make quick edits in seconds without leaving the comfort of your browser.  You don't even need to log-in to use it, so if you haven't tried it check it out.  If you need to download something to put on the desktop, GIMP is an imagine manipulation platform that will give you most of the comfort of PhotoShop. Again, this should cover most of the average Joe's needs, so try it before forking over the big bucks.

Look at that! We just saved $400.  I could go on for pages about all of the different free software there is out there, but usually a Google search of "Free alternative to _______" will help you find a few options.  

What free software tools can you not live without?

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