The problem with computers, like most technology, is that the more involved you become with them, the more stuff you feel the need to buy to make yours work better. Before you know it, you’ve dropped hundreds if not thousands of dollars on accessories and software. That’s why we decided to come up with a list of the best free software tools you can get for free online, without having to spend a dime.
Microsoft (Stock Quote: MSFT) made waves recently when it announced that there will be a free online release of its newest version of Office, its signature software collection. Microsoft Office 2010 includes familiar programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, with some new features. The newest version of Word lets you make more visual designs and diagrams and Outlook now lets you manage multiple e-mail accounts at once. Next month, consumers will be able to download a free web version the Office package online, which will allow users to work on Excel, Word and Powerpoint projects online from any computer. No, it’s not the full Office suite, but personally, these three applications are all that I ever use Microsoft Office for anyway. If you’re wondering why a big company like Microsoft would give away much of their premier product for free, there is a simple answer: Google.
Google (Stock Quote: GOOG) currently offers its own package of free office software called Google Docs, which allows users to create word documents and spreadsheets much in the same way that Microsoft Office and Excel do. Users can upload the documents they already have on their computer, then edit and store them on Google, even if it was originally created on Office. In this way, Google can actually be seen as a good compliment to Microsoft Office rather than direct competition. And best of all, Google allows users to collaborate with each other on these projects online, so if you work in an office, multiple employees can have access to a spreadsheet and make changes. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft can surpass this.
If you’re an aspiring musician or just looking to make an audio recording of any kind, you should definitely try out Audacity. This free software allows you to record and edit sound bites in an easy-to-use interface. The program works on both Windows and Macs, and all you have to do is download it online here.