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The other windows world – all for free

Whether it is for university or for school, nowadays it is hard to avoid doing computer work at home. In university, for example, it is absolutely normal that you hand in your papers written in some form of word processing programme format. Although it is not mandatory to give Powerpoint presentations –and sometimes you wish that there was no such thing as Powerpoint— it is generally well received to include ppt anyway.
But the problem really is that nobody cares were the Office package comes from (or all the other stuff you need). Just to have basic software to go online securely, to write your papers, and to write CDs you will have to spend approximately € 280. Quite something for the average student. If you take a look around, you will find out that a whole lot of people go for pirate copies (especially for MS Office) in order to cope with those expectations without spending that much money. However, there is a major downside to pirate copies: You never get any proper updates which leaves a whole lot of security vulnerabilities. Also this is a question of right and wrong. I know many people don't liketo hear that, but pirate copying is stealing. So what else is there to do?
Especially if you are not an expert and you don't want to mess around with Ubundu (, you will have to pay the 90 € for your Microsoft operating system. Sorry about that. And evenif you are an expert you will stil have problems finding the right applications for a few things.
For all the rest there are free Microsoft-based alternatives on the internet nowadays. You have two different types of software:

1.)Companies that are looking for profit by including ads, differentiating between free and full versions, keeping there software free for private use and charging businesses (use it for free at home and pay for your business license because you like the product)
2.)Cobuild stuff that was written by enthusiasts who were sick of expensive software.

The first free thing you should get is Avira Antivir ( and I think the name makes it perfectly clear why you should get this. I use this programme not only because it is free, but also because it is way better that most commercial anti-virus software (to be honest: I HATE Norton). However, if you use the free version of Antivir you have no real time protection against spyware (the feature which is so annoying with Norton) but to make up for it you can use Spyware Terminator ( This software is also much better that commercial alternatives (you should just switch of the annoying yahoo toolbar). Security-wise you are pretty much fixed now.

Still you haven't written an word yet. Here again their is a free solution to your problems: Open Office ( Many people don't like it –especially its surface— but it is the best free alternative to MS Office. What I like most abou it is that it's way better at handling footnotes in long papers than its Microsoft counterpart. Even some major cities in Germany have switched to Open Office in order to safe millions on Office licenses (cf.,1000000121,39171380,00.htm). Now what is not included in the package is an email client. The best free alternative here is Mozilla Thunderbird ( Again the free alternative is way better than its commercial competitor.
So you are pretty much sorted for school, university, or work. As you can see the major downside to this whole for-free-thing is that you always need some sort of suplement to get the same functionality but believe me, it is worth the hassle.

Other software that is worth knowing (although it is not absolutely necessary):

Advanced Windows care: tweak your system, fix your operating system errors, clean up your registry (
Foxit reader: very fast pdf-reader: outplays Adobe reader by far. (
7-Zip: sometimes the windows agent to unzip files simply refuses to do the trick. This tiny tool unpacks simply everything. (
StarBurn: In terms of writing CDs Nero has been the big player for quite some time now. This software might offer an alternative that is worth considering even if you bought a Nero copy already. (
winamp & vlc media player: Installing those two programmes solves all those CODEC-problems we all love to hate. ( &

This should be enough. And you didn't have to pay for anything. If there is something missing, I can only recommend EFB ( There you will find it all. No matter what you are looking for.
2008-02-25 00:00:00