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|Open Source Software!
The savior of small businesses…
Now more than ever you hear about people being arrested for illegal downloads and software piracy. What if I told you that you didn’t have to go vigilante to get all the business applications you need for day-to-day operations? It’s true! With the right software, you can have your business applications up and running in no time. So put away the peg-leg and shoot your parrot ’cause I’m about to tell you the joys of using open source software.
The official definition of open source is: “an approach to the design, development, and distribution of software, offering practical accessibility to a software’s source code”. Got that? Okay, now let me translate. It means that a programmer or a team of programmers create a program and then make the source code for it available on the web at sites like http://sourceforge.net/. Then, other programmers around the world areable to download the code and make improvements or further the development of the program in some way. When they finish, the code is put back onto the Internet in its improved version and this process happens again and again throughout the life of the program. The benefit to the end user is that you are able to download programs that do the same thing as the expensive retail packages for free or in some cases small contributions.
Lets take Microsoft Office 2007 Small Business for example. It usually sells for around $300 and includes the following programs:
This is a fantastic bundle of software and has become the standard for large and small businesses but many people simply cannot afford it, especially when needing several copies of the software. In response, a group of programmers got together to create an open source alternative called OpenOffice. Lets look at how Microsoft Office compares with OpenOffice:
So by downloading OpenOffice from http://openoffice.org/, you can get almost all of the programs that Microsoft Office provides for free. Now you may be worried about the compatibility issue, especially if you email your documents to clients for review. OpenOffice will allow you to save your files in a variety of formats, including the common Word and Excel formats in addition to a built-in PDF writer which will turn your document into a PDF to send in one click.
One of the only drawbacks of the OpenOffice suite is its lack of an email client. This is easily resolved though by using another open source piece of software called Thunderbird. Its a great alternative to Microsoft Outlook and comes with an entire library of add-ons that allow you to customize it to your needs. Thunderbird was created by the Mozilla Foundation, who develops Firefox, a popular web browser which rivals Internet Explorer in their market share.
As you can see, you do not have to go broke outfitting your company with its business applications. I personally use open source software as much as possible, but it works as a great stepping stone for new businesses who need to lower the amount of startup capital required to get the ball rolling. If needed, you can always purchase a pricy retail copy of mainstream software, such as Microsoft Office, later with no worry. I suggest that you look online at the websites listed in the article as well as on Google to see what open source alternatives you can find to replace your current library.
Here’s a few tips for when you search:
I have heard that turning off my computer is bad for it, so should I just leave it on all the time?
I hope this has answered your question and given you a better idea of how to protect your computer.
Microsoft Office Small Business 2007 – $289.99
Creative ZEN X-Fi Black 16GB MP3 Player – $169.98
APC BE750G Power Saving Back-UPS – $85.99
* Please note that the prices listed are subject to change as dictated by Newegg.com. Click on the images to visit each product’s page.
Cool Free App of the Month!
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A premium version is also available for only $24.95 a year! This will give you access to more cool stuff! You’ll get a completely ad-free experience, all the effects, dozens of shapes and fonts, plus previews of new features, premium support, and advanced editing tools like Curves and Levels!
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