Microsoft has been known for the proprietary softwares and need no introduction! There has always been a conflict of views across communities. While some claim that Microsoft provides value for money, FOSS activists have often denied it. Suites and programs like Open Office and GIMP have often been compared to MS Office and Adobe Photoshop, on various grounds. One of the factors being the price.
However, there are a lot of free programs that Microsoft has to offer. We list 11 of them, today;
Windows Live Writer This is undoubtedly the best desktop-blogging application that comes for free. The amount of flexibility it offers is matchless, making it one of the best picks for bloggers across the world, both professionals and amateurs.
Server Quest Game II Do you find it relaxing to sit and play on your console of PC for hours on end? Well, there is one more item to include to your inventory. If you are into classics, it is one classic you will want to try your hands on. It features the same pixilated graphics featured in King Quest and Leisure Suit Harry. The game is designed with Silverlight and runs on the Internet browser.
SQL Server Express 2008 This is a slimmed down version of the SQL server but with the same powerful tools to enable you create your websites and applications. The server comes in three variations – Express, Express with Advanced Services and Express with tools. The program is simple to learn, easy to use and offers the same database capabilities as the SQL server.
Office Accounting Express 2008 Structured on the familiar Microsoft office interface, Office Accounting Express 2008 is a simple to use but powerful accounting tool of all times. It is engineered to blend seamlessly with other office applications.
SyncToy 2.0 As the name has it, SyncToy acts a synchronization tool that is tailored to help you keep duplicate files open on your computer or over a network. It is also a powerful back up tool. It has a simple to use interface which is a plus.
Windows Steady State If you operate a cyber café or a large class and the chances of computers getting crashed is high, you might want to try out Windows SteadyState. The program allows you to restore every computer to the first day of configuration.
Worldwide Telescope With images straight from the Hubble Space Telescope, this program brings the power of outer space exploration right into your house. You can engage in a rich user experience where you shuffle through hundreds of images from space.
Virtual PC 2007 This program allows you to run several operating systems and applications on one physical computer. A simple to install and run software.
XML Notepad 2007 If you find XML scripting task boring, you might want to give XML Notepad 2007 a try. Featuring different colors for different tags and classes, it is developed to make scripting and editing your XML files easier and fun.
Visual Web Developer 2008 Wannabe website developers have something for them! This program allows you to get as imaginative and diverse as it can possibly get. Tagging along powerful tools, it is one of the easy-to-use web design tools.
Paint.Net This is simply a clever, well designed image editing software. Structured on the .NET platform, it is set to take your image editing to an entirely new level.
How many of these have your had a hands on? Which are the other Microsoft programs that are free to use? Do share your experiences with us.
If you’re looking forward to start up a small business enterprise, investment happens to be a key concern. How much, how less and where exactly; these are the preliminary encounters.
Open source software has a lot of options for the business world, alongside the home user bandwagon. Apart from the other generic features, Open Source Software at times have a greater degree of customization as compared to their proprietary counterparts. This very fact is pretty evident with the fact that several large companies like — Google, Amazon, Yahoo, et al run their servers on Linux, again an Open Source OS.
The idea behind this article is not to force start you to follow the Open Source path, but to make you look at the same as an alternative before you shell out a few hundred or thousand dollars for a close source and non-free product which does pretty much the same as it’s Open Source and free alternative.
Before we move on, I would like to clear out that free software and Open Source Software are two different entities, though they often come as a bundle!
Today, we shall have a look at a few Open Source Software which may just help you kick start your business.
The first need shall be to have a robust, secure and customizable operating system, both for the server(s) and the workstation(s). There are a lot of options available when it comes to Linux. Have a look at them at one of our previous posts – Which Linux distro is right for you?
I would recommend Fedora for free, or RedHat, if you can pay a bit for a great enterprise support. They have a cutting edge robustness and come with a lot of applications like OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc. as pre-loaded, catering your major necessities.
The next big thing is an office suite which shall help you with word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, databases, vector drawing, mathematical formulas, etc. OpenOffice is the best of all under this segment.
You’ll be looking for a good Instant Messaging client for your Internet chat and of course a good Email application for your official mail domain.
Evolution is one of the best email clients available as free and Open Source. It provides you with an integrated email, an address book and calender to mark your appointments/schedules.
Thunderbird is a another cool desktop email client from Mozilla. It supports great customization, easy search, and enhanced security and privacy measures that keeps your information safe.
Jabber is the best known open source instant messenger. Apart from generic chat features, it gives you the ability to have VoIP conversations and transfer files.
They shall help your work get easier than otherwise.
Tomboy is one tool which I love a lot! It makes taking and tracking notes pretty easily. It can help people at work while looking for websites, emails or a few striking ideas during the day as they may jot them down by using Tomboy notes. One push and the Tomboy pops out!
Desktop search helps you find a document/email/note/music or a calender entry in a jiffy! Beagle is one such desktop search application which may help people at work. Thus making a disorganized desktop belong to an organized executive!
Though not always, but you might need to burn some DVD’s once in a while to backup your data. K3B shall help your business with an easy and free way to burn those disks.
Thinking of an sharing your desktop remotely? I know that’s a much desired feature in today’s connected world. RDesktop is a popular remote desktop client. It lets you share information remotely, or access your own workstation while being away from the office. What more, it can help interface Linux with desktops that are still running Windows!
PDF’s, you’ll need to read them every now and then! Evince provides an open source alternative to the propriety softwares, allowing you to view documents in a wide variety of formats in a much lighter and quicker way.
Imaging and Design
Depending on the kind of work you’re involved with, you might need to edit a few images at times.
GIMP is the Photoshop of open source world, though it is not as feature rich and friendly as Photoshop. Though it lacks some of the more advanced productivity tools found in Photoshop, but comes without the frills or a heavy price tag!
Inkscape is a great open source program for vector drawing, with its capabilities comparable to those of Illustrator or CorelDraw.
Once you look up to have an organized data flow in office, you need a Content Management System. We shall look for some good options under this segment.
Joomla! is an open source content management software (CMS), that allows easily upload and creation a variety of web pages. Features include page caching, RSS feeds, blogs, polls, website search, news flashes, making it a great tool for entrepreneurs doing business on the web.
Exponent is a good solution for the technologically challenged entrepreneurs. One can make great websites using Exponent. You don’t need to code web pages or manage site navigation directly. Instead, you can create a web page as you would see it on the web by typing, editing and rearranging the options in a window.
WordPress! I can not miss this. One tool that has changed the way people look into the web. A robust, neat and fast growing CMS built on php, which again is an Open Source scripting language. The kind of support WordPress has, both official and unofficial is matchless.
Network and Server Management
When we talk about communication within an office, we need to look at the network management. Let’s figure it out the open source way!
Asterisk is a PBX (Private Branch eXchange) software that can facilitates an easily and cheaply control of the telephone system in your office. It works with both VoIP telephony as well as generic telephone systems with the addition of some inexpensive hardware. It has some great features which you might get on heavy shelling of cash, otherwise.
Zabbix Zabbix lets you easily monitor and track the status of network services, servers, and other network based hardware. If your business needs to track and report status on network systems, Zabbix’s easy-to-use mapping and graphing visualizations shall by no means disappoint you.
Apache supports a large number of web servers, worldwide, in an open source fashion. It provides some of the most widely used and stable HTTP servers available . It supports a lot of features including virtual hosting, SSL and TSL support, custom log files, proxy module, etc. It can be used as a secure server for web pages or to safely share files across the Internet.
GnuCash helps you keep track of your finances easily and efficiently. This free tool allows you to track bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses with a lot of features to create reports, make calculations, schedule transactions, etc.
SureInvoice facilitates an easy system for creating and managing invoices. You will find it useful in time entry, automated invoice generation, customer self-service, etc.
These were a few inevitable tools for your office from the Open Source world. I would like to repeat that OSS is an alternative to the propriety softwares, you may not necessarily stick to them or follow an OSS regime.