A few days ago, I was browsing through Amazon’s software category when I stumbled upon the software best seller list. Intrigued, I took a look. Here’s the top twenty five when I found it (go ahead and check, it’s probably very similar right now):
1. Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 (Windows)
2. QuickBooks Pro 2009 (Windows)
3. Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition (Mac)
4. Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 (Windows)
5. Norton 360 (Windows)
6. Norton Internet Security 2009 (Windows)
7. Norton Antivirus 2009 (Windows)
8. Microsoft Outlook 2007 (Windows)
9. iLife ’09 (Mac)
10. Adobe Photoshop Elements & Premiere Elements 7 (Windows)
11. iWork ’09 (Mac)
12. Microsoft Streets and Trips 2009 (Windows)
13. Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 (Windows)
14. QuickBooks Basic Payroll 2009 (Windows)
15. VMware Fusion 2 (Mac)
16. Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 Standard (Windows)
17. Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 (Mac)
18. Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition SP2 (Windows)
19. Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 (Windows)
20. Microsoft Office Professional 2007 (Windows)
21. Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 Preferred (Windows)
22. TurboTax Deluxe Federal + State + eFile 2008 (Windows)
23. Rosetta Stone Version 3 Spanish (Windows/Mac)
24. Acronis True Image Home 2009 PC Backup & Recovery (Windows)
25. Mac OS X Version 10.5.6 Leopard (Mac)
Thousands upon thousands of dollars in software there – and thousands of copies are being sold each day. The amazing part is, for most of these pieces of software, there are free equivalents that do almost the same task. Let’s look at them!
… instead of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition, iWork ’09, or Microsoft Office Professional 2007
OpenOffice is a top-notch replacement for the features of Microsoft Office. It includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and database features and works on both Macs and PCs. I use my copy almost daily!
QuickBooks Simple Start Free Edition 2009
… instead of QuickBooks Pro 2009 or QuickBooks Basic Payroll 2009
Many small businesses dive straight into a paid copy of QuickBooks without even knowing if that’s what they need. Why not try out the free Simple Start version? If it works for you, it’s painless to upgrade later, and if not, you’re not out any money!
GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
… instead of Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a fantastic tool for editing images. It can easily handle most of the tasks that Photoshop Elements can handle and exceeds it in many areas.
… instead of Norton Internet Security 2009, Kaspersky Internet Security 2009, or Norton 360
ZoneAlarm is one of the first pieces of software I put on any Windows machine. It does a spectacular job of keeping viruses and other malicious software from communicating back and forth using your computer, keeping you and your data safe.
… instead of Norton Antivirus 2009, Kaspersky Internet Security 2009, or Norton 360
AVG is the best free virus protection package out there, perfect for most home users. If you’re concerned about viruses, this is a must-have.
… instead of iMovie/iLife ’09, Adobe Premiere Elements 7, or Corel VideoStudio Pro X2
ZS4 is an incredibly powerful video editing tool, enabling you to manipulate video files and combine them to make movies on your computer.
… instead of Garage Band/iLife ’09
While Audacity isn’t as full-featured as Garage Band, it does do a great job of simply recording your voice and your music. In fact, I prefer it for podcasting purposes – if you’re just getting started in recording, it’s likely that Garage Band is overkill and Audacity will meet your needs much better.
… instead of iWeb/iLife ’09
Wordpress lets you host your own blog for free. It provides a very simple user interface and a very clean display for your posts, pictures, and other materials.
… instead of Microsoft Streets and Trips 2009
Google Maps can pretty much do everything that Streets and Trips can do. I’ve used it to plan every road trip we’ve taken in the last few years.
… instead of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10
Want to dictate your words? Give Digital Dictation a shot before shelling out the money on expensive software. It does the trick for my (admittedly limited) dictation needs.
… instead of Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition SP2 or Mac OS X Version 10.5.6 Leopard
Ubuntu is nearly as user friendly as Windows, not nearly as prone to security holes, and costs nothing. What’s not to love?
Intuit Tax Freedom Project
… instead of TurboTax Deluxe Federal + State + eFile 2008
If you make less than $30,000 a year or are a member of the military, you can do your taxes for free!
… instead of Rosetta Stone Version 3 Spanish
LiveMocha helps you to learn foreign languages online for free – no need to invest hundreds of dollars in Rosetta Stone!
… instead of Acronis True Image Home 2009 PC Backup & Recovery
SugarSync provides all the backup support that individual people might need. Just get a backup drive and SugarSync and your data is safe.
You could shell out your hard-earned dollars for this software – or you could try out some free alternatives first and keep your wallet firmly in your pocket where it belongs.