Why pay for software?

If your business relies on professional software you may be willing to pay for it. But in many cases "open source" software can be as good or even better, and at zero cost!. Freeware is software you do not pay for - ever - in any way. A particularly good example of this kind of freeware is Libre Office - "similar" to Microsoft Office. I use a lot of freeware; but I also rely on free applications that dont need to be installed to my PC. These are called "portable applications".

Recommended freeware

As part of my work I'm continually using freeware applications and trialling new releases. Here you will find a list of what I consider to be the best and most reliable, with links to the best places to get them.

John's list of recommended freeware


Free Portable applications

Portable applications are programs that can run on your PC without installation. You can carry them around on a memory stick and use them on any compatible PC (ie almost any that run windows). They reduce problems with uninstalling software (you just delete them and don't have to worry about failed installs or incomplete uninstalls), they allow for extra flexibility in copying or moving software to different locations on a portable device or on a PC, and they help improve your privacy and security by running from portable devices like flash drives.

John's advice on portable applications

Libre Office

I'm a great fan of "Open Source" software. I install Libre Office on PCs as its free and I find it covers 95% of users requirements for Office - type applications. It includes (as you see) WRITER -a word processor, CALC - a spreadsheet, IMPRESS - slide presentation, BASE database, and a DRAW application. It can open and save in its own formats, and can also open and save many other common formats including those from Microsoft Office. I use it myself because its open source, easy to learn and use, is very customisable to the users needs, has free updates, and VERY good security with password protection when needed. Also it can save to PDF AND EPUB formats!

Why should I pay when I can get this free and its so good?

Image of libre office writer

OK what do I need to add. Libre Office Writer has all the bells and whistles you need to create documents. Look at the ribbon in the image. Most of the options you need are there. Any that arent you can add - its VERY easy to customise.

You can style headings, choose typefaces, insert formulas, tables or images. I use it myself, and when you get a service agreement, service report or information document from me it will have been produced in Libre Office Writer. Every refurbished PC I sell has this loaded as standard.

I also have Microsoft Office. So why do I use Libre Office? Well for one thing its on ALL my machines. If I want to save a document as a .pdf or .epub its easy.

Also when I save your service report with your details (address, phone, email, etc) I can password protect and encrypt them so I KNOW they are secure, as Libre Office has great security.

Below you can see Impress presentations and Calc spreadsheet.

Note: If you ABSOLUTELY NEED PUBLISHER then you need MS Office. Or if you want a "PROPER" desktop publishing package get "Scribus" - FREE

Libre Office "Impress" - like PowerPoint

Libre Office Impress

Libre Office "Calc" - like Excel

Libre Office Calc

For now lets compare some examples of free and commercial "paid for" software.

You may need to use proprietary software for compatibility with clients or collaborators; but where you have a choice you can save cash by choosing open-source "freeware". Now there's plenty of free and open-source software out there but much of it is not worth installing.  However there is a core of genuine open-source freeware that is as good and in some cases MUCH better than expensive proprietary software. (see my lists above)

Purpose Proprietary example Open Source
Operating system Windows 10 Home Premium £110 Linux Mint
Office suite Microsoft Office Pro 2019 £420 Libre Office
Desktop publishing Microsoft Publisher £120 Scribus
Image manipulation Photoshop £120 ANNUALLY The Gimp
Diagrams Visio Standard £320 Dia or QCAD
Project management Microsoft Project £500 ProjectLibre
Finance management Sage Cloud Essentials £300 ANNUALLY Wave or ZipBooks
TOTAL £1890 £0