Free is great when everything else is so expensive. Buying hardware can be quite expensive and then choosing the software can add a lot more. You can do just about everything, a well-equipped computer with the best software installed for free. Free software has been available since computers became popular as home devices. Paid for software have dedicated teams so a lot more development go into these. Free software sometimes looks like older versions of paid software. Some free titles come close to fully paid versions in terms of similar usefulness. Operating systems can also be installed and used for free with the many versions of Linux OS’s. Linux systems can provide platforms that look very similar to Microsoft or Apple. There are different levels of free to be aware of and many different free titles available. Read on to learn more.
Different types of free software.
If someone offers you something for free, there’s a sceptical belief that nothing in this world in free. Well, in some instances, this is true, but reading below will separate these.
“Open-source software” is software that can be changed by anyone collectively to provide new features. Some software titles are very well supported by the Open Source Community. Titles such as Audacity, Libre Office, VLC, GIMP, etc.., are all open-source software. These titles are completely free of charge.
“Free Software” is something of a misconception as free can mean it is actually free of charge but free software can mean that software comes pre-installed on a paid device.
“Freeware” is software that is free to the end user that is normally proprietary and cannot be edited. Freeware is similar to Open-source which include the same titles and also with paid options. Some are limited versions with options to upgrade to paid versions such as CCleaner and Teamviewer.
“Shareware” titles are free initially but come with timed or restricted features. Also called demoware or trial software offering the user the opportunity to try the full version before you buy. The user is then required to pay for the software if they wish to continue using it. Examples of this software include WinZip, Acrobat with some laptops coming with Office 365 or McAfee with 30 days access.
Any available software will come with a licence and use of terms, so read these documents to ensure you will not be breaking the licence terms.
There are plenty of free apps available for all platforms such as Apple, Android, Microsoft & Linux. Apple, Android & Microsoft have their own App stores and there are millions of free titles available.
Common software titles available
Below are a few examples of really useful software that are free to use in most cases:
|Software Type||Software Title|
|Operating Systems||Many versions of Linux OS’s|
|Office Suite||Libre Office, OpenOffice, Google Docs|
|Video Player||VLC Player|
Windows 10 or 11 Email App Apple Mail or Gmail App (Compatible device & pre-installed system required)
|Internet Browser||Mozilla FireFox, open source. Opera, Google Chrome & Safari, are freeware|
Microsoft Edge, proprietry
|Game Recording/Streaming Software||Logitech’s Streamlabs Open Broadcasting System (aka SLOBS)|
|Video Conferencing||Zoom, Teams|
|Image Editing||Gimp, Paint.net, FastStone|
|Virus Protection||Malwarebytes, BitDefender, AVG, Avast|
|Media Center||Plex, Kodi|
|Computer Aided Design||LibreCAD (for 2D) and FreeCAD (for 3D)|
There are millions of titles available which can be searched from a browser or from the App store on your device. Some of the software mentioned above can produce professional looking results once you become familiar with the software.