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Four free alternatives to Popular Programs!

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Microsoft Office

Price: $149.95
Whats included: Includes MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and One Note
Pro’s: Microsoft Office has been around for almost 20 years, has the largest software company in existence supporting it, and is the de facto standard for Office related applications.
Con’s: Expense, slightly buggy and prone to viruses.
Buy: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/FX100487411033.aspx

OpenOffice.Org

Price: Free
Whats included: Includes Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress, Base and Math
Pro’s: Includes almost all of he sames features as MS Office, totally compatible with Office, Open Source, free support (limited) and backed by Sun MicroSystems (creators of Java).
Con’s: Lack of telphone, one on one support
Download: http://www.openoffice.org/

Summary:

Microsoft Office (MS Office) is a suite of programs designed for creating and editing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. They have dominated the market for almost twenty years and are THE standard in homes, schools and businesses. MS Office does whats it’s built for pretty well, but it’s designed for a large mainstream audience; and a lot of it’s features are not required for a casual user that is on a budget. There is a cool, FREE alternative to MS Office, OpenOffice.Org that offers almost all of MS Office’s functions and is totally compatible with it. While to focus of this article is saving money, I would actually recommend OpenOffice.Org to anyone who needs an “Office” suite.

OpenOffice.Org offers all the features and programs you would expect and need in an office suite without the hefty price tag. The best part is, if you need a simple word processor and spreadsheet application for basic tasks like homework, resume and essay writing, you don’t have to pay $150 for it. OpenOffice.Org is also fully compatible with MS Office, so you can open and edit MS Office documents in OpenOffice.Org, and you can open and edit OpenOffice.Org documents in MS Office. In case you didn’t know, compatibility is a very important factor to you as a user, because the majority of the world still edits and creates documents in MS Office.

Some of the drawbacks of OpenOffice.Org is that you don’t get the level of technical support you would get with a paid program like MS Office. There is a support section available on the OpenOffice.Org website and a large online community of volunteers supporting it however. So if money is an non-issue and you are short on time, I recommend sticking with “old faithful”, MS Office; It offer’s phone, email and web support. If you are pretty comfortable troubleshooting your own issues, and want to save some cash though, OpenOffice.Org is the suite for you! For those of you that are skeptical – don’t be – OpenOffice.Org is powerful and professional application that doesn’t “feel” free application, at all. When you start using it, you’ll actually think they are crazy for offering such an awesome office suite for free! Download it for free at OpenOffice.Org.

Microsoft Outlook

Price: $109.95
Whats included: Includes MS Outlook Personal Information Manager and Email Program
Pro’s: The “Gold Standard” in email and organizer applications; it’s an email client, a news reader, and a personal information manager (PIM).
Con’s: Expense, slightly buggy and prone to viruses.
Buy: http://www.microsoft.com/outlook/

Thunderbird

Price: Free
Whats included: Includes Mozilla Thunderbird -Newsreader/Email Program
Pro’s: Thunderbird is powerful and MUCH faster than Outlook, and less vulnerable to viruses. There are dozen’s of extensions available to add more features free of charge.
Con’s: Thunderbird is a email and newsreader; it doesn’t include many of outlooks PIM features out of the box.
Download: http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/

Summary:

Microsoft Outlook, like many other of MS programs is the industry leader in email and PIM applications. It offers desktop email access, contact management (and syncing) and calendar/organizer functionality. I’m not going to kid you – if your a business or a “power” user, stick to outlook.

I recommend Thunderbird to the average everyday user who simply needs a desktop email client and contact manager. You can even download extensions for it to add calendar and organizer functionality! So if you are looking for a email client and contact manager without the price tag, I highly recommend Thunderbird.

WS_FTP Pro

Price: $54.95
Whats included: WS_FTP Professional File Transfer Program
Pro’s: The industry leader; THE application for graphic designers, w eb designers and businesses.
Con’s: A VERY large price tag.
Buy: http://www.wsftp.com/

FileZilla

Price: Free
Whats included: FileZilla File Transfer Program.
Pro’s: FileZilla is extremely popular, constant updates and a large online community supporting it; It also offer secure file transfers (SFTP, and FTPS)!
Con’s: No phone support, geared more for moderate/experienced users.
Download: http://filezilla-project.org/

Summary:

This is gonna be brief – FileZilla is THE solution for anyone looking for a powerful and secure file transfer program. Webmasters looking to save some cash, look no further. Although it’s free FileZilla doesn’t make any sacrifices on features or quality; it offer’s virtually all the features of WS_FTP Pro for free. WS_FTP Pro has been around longer and DOES offer more support, but if your smart enough to be uploading files to a server, you *should* be smart enough to figure out how to use a FTP Program:) Why pay $55 bucks when you can get what you need for free?

Photoshop CS4

Price: $699.99
Whats included: Adobe Photoshop CS4 and ImageReady CS 4 graphics editing programs.
Pro’s: The industry leader; feature-packed, it is the current and primary market leader for commercial bitmap and image manipulation.
Con’s: HIGH price tag, many extra features you will never use.
Buy: http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/photoshop/

GIMP

Price: Free
Whats included: GIMP graphics editing program.
Pro’s: Free, offers many of the primary and most popular features of Photoshop.
Con’s: Slightly more difficult to use, no telephone support, more geared for technical users.
Download: http://www.gimp.org/

Summary:

Let me be upfront – I – recommend GIMP primarily for moderate to expert level users on a budget. Photoshop is THE standard graphics editor in the world and is the industry norm. If you are a Graphic Designer or Graphic Design student, stick with Photoshop. If you are a casual user or beginning webmaster, GIMP might be the program for you. If offers many of the most common features that your everyday user would use in Photoshop, creates stunning graphics and is free. It has the same con’s as many of the programs I have reviewed, which is lack of personalized or telephone support, but there are numerous help forums and experienced users online to help you with any difficulties you may have. So if you need to create professional graphics on a budget, GIMP is graphics editor for you.

About the Author Mike Wayne

Mike Wayne (me!) is a Serial Entrepreneur residing in New York City. I created this blog to provide tools, advice and tips to help Entrepreneurs understand the world of Online Business. I’m also the Founder & Lead Developer at MediaCraft Marketing, a New York Based Internet Marketing Firm that reeks of Awesomeness =)

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