In today’s tough economic times, everyone can benefit from saving money. In addition, computer software is costly and often can be unaffordable to those who need it the most. The objective of this article is to present the reader with four software products which are 100% free and are designed to fulfill the same purpose as their often outrageously priced counterparts. The intended purpose of the program, as well as its advantages, disadvantages will be presented for each of the programs under consideration.
The first piece of truly free software to be evaluated here was designed to provide remote support and remote presentation capabilities for any two computers on which the program is running. With TeamViewer, you can remotely control any PC from anywhere on the Internet. Team Viewer is by far, the author’s favorite program due to its simple but reliable remote support features. Team Viewer has an extensive list of advantages of which the most practical are: remote support can be established through a firewall or even between two computers on a network, remote support recipient can interact simultaneously with the provider creating a perfect scenario for teaching computer skills, the program comes with file transfer capability that allows for copying of files and folders to and from a remote partner and finally, best of all, It’s free! There are no real disadvantages of the program other than its ability to circumvent firewalls will sometimes come to the attention of a computer administrator, who will then disallow its installation or use. The author has only seen this happen once in two years of its use on a myriad of computers. As with most of these programs, the reader is advised to go to CNET to obtain the software without any of the usual unscrupulous tactics employed by free software promoters. Bottom line summary: This is a must have program and is, by far, the most user friendly remote support application around.
Another fine piece of “gratis” software that is formidably comparable to its pricey counterparts is Photofiltre, by Softonic International S.L.. The purpose of this program is to provide a free image editor as an alternative to Photoshop for users who want simplicity and ease of use. Photofiltre has many advantageous features which is why it is named here. These perks include but are not limited to: it is simple and intuitive to use, image rotations of any degree are possible and the program is capable of reading a vast array of image formats. The wide range of filters allows fledgling users to acquaint themselves with image manipulation tools and of course, it is free! The two principal disadvantages of this program are one, there are no image layering capabilities and two, despite having over 100 filters, this number is minimal compared to the number of existing filter types for images. Unlike the other programs discussed here, it is recommended that you go to Softonic’s website to obtain the file. Bottom line summary: This program has the greatest number of critical image manipulation features and is intuitively user friendly.
The author of this article is perhaps, one of the worst typists to ever wield a keyboard; hence the inclusion of this next program in the list of top software at no cost. Phrase Express is a program designed to automate and simplify many of the user’s typing tasks. Repetitive or static textual information is reduced to pasting content upon certain user input strategies. For example: the phrase “The author really doesn’t like to type” can be automatically inserted at the cursor point when such cues as the first three letters are typed. The advantages of this program are summed up in the following statement: the benefits of this software will be experienced by those (including the author) who would prefer the application of thumbscrews to the use of a typewriter because they never invested the time to learn how to touch type. The “execute after manual confirmation” method of automated text insertion is an extremely practical feature and is worthy of mention here. Although not used by the author, it is clear that Phrase Express has an expansive set of versatile built-in macro functions. Insertion of an external bitmap file, pasting the current clipboard contents and creation of email messages with filled recipient addresses, subjects and message bodies are just a few of the included macros. The singular disadvantage of this software is that the majority of those magnificent macros will not work on the internet. Again, CNET is the preferred provider of the file for download. Bottom line summary: Phrase Express is what its name implies: the express train to “less typing-ville”, which is why the program is one of the best, truly free software offerings.
Microsoft “Office” is the industry standard for comprehensive office suite software. Consequently, the corporate giant is capable of charging several hundred dollars for the program because such standardization produces a false sense of their program being the only such office suite software acceptable for use. In an effort to dispel this notion, as well as call attention to another truly great piece of software, the author’s next recommendation is the program Open Office, developed by Oracle. Since practically everyone knows what Ms Office is, any discussion of Open Office, in terms of purpose,would be redundant. The three foremost advantages of Open Office are: The price (as compared to MS Office), the fact that there are very discernible differences between the two programs and that, for the most part, compatibility with the Microsoft product is seamless. There are no disadvantages worth mentioning given the price differential between these two products. Bottom line summary: Bill Gates is rich enough; Open Office should have been installed on the reader’s computer yesterday. The author again recommends CNET as the legitimate provider of the file for download.
The conclusion is: there are some fantastic free software offerings, but they are few and far between. In an effort save the reader from endless hours of searching for quality, no cost software, these four products are recommended for their merits as well as the price. These are, by no means the only free products which are designed for the aforementioned purposes. They are, however, the most remunerative products based on their capabilities.