Free Equivalent Software: Active Ingredients in Microsoft Word

Buying a new computer or just upgrading your operating system can end up costing you more than you bargained for. I guess that’s just the game. Henry Ford said it best, “I make cars to sell parts for them”.
That is in essence what a new and “improved” operating system does; causes you to upgrade hundreds and even thousands of dollars worth of software.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to.

Want an anti-virus suite, but don’t want to pay $ up front on top of an annual subscription? No problem.


AVG is one of the highest rated anti-virus suits out there, and is totally free.

With a CNET rating of 5 out of 5 and a user rating of 4 out of 5 (over 13K votes), and over 60 million downloads, it is safe to say they have it together.

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Open Office @

CNET rating: 5 out of 5. User rating: 4.5 out of 5 and over a million downloads from alone.

This suite has all of your basics that, if were a store brand, would read: “Compare to active ingredients in Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point, etc…”

You can save your documents and re-open them in Microsoft Office applications or visa versa.

I must say, I believe this to be one of the best kept software secrets..

What about a powerful photo editor? No problem.

Gimp @

CNET Rating: 5 out of 5. User rating: 4 out of 5 and over a million downloads.

I have both Photoshop CS3 (with a sticker price of $999) and Gimp. I can honestly say I seldom even load Photoshop for several reasons. Photoshop is a resource hog, meaning it likes to slow things down a bit (Not a big problem with new dual core processors).

I also find a lot more quick access functional features on gimp that could be on Photoshop, but escapes me if they are.

Gimp comes stocked with a few animated plug-ins that are very cool, but there are a lot more floating around the net, like this One, that automatically inserts either animated or non-animated rain into any picture. That’s the neat thing about true free-ware; People seem more excited about creating things (scripts, plug-ins,…) for their use.

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Video editor?

Look no further than your operating system’s default programs. While I am not a professional, I have made a nice little income creating and selling how-to videos, with nothing more than a Sony HandyCam, FireWire, and Windows Movie Maker.

If you have a Mac, no worries, just use your Apple iMovie program.

CD Burner?

The absolute easiest, hassle free CD burner, music organizer, etc… is Windows Media Player. Send your songs to WMP by highlighting songs of choice, right click, and select “Send to”, and send to “WMP”.

To burn, just right click on a song, and select burn. Once you have your list compiled, just click on the burn tab, to view/arrange and click the burn button.

Of course, if you have a Mac, you will have to use itunes, which I find as a huge fault for Mac, as it likes to take over your whole computer. Some love the program, some hate it. I hate it.

HTML Editor, with WYSIWYG?

PageBreeze @

WYSIWYG = What you see is what you get. In other words, you don’t have to know code to create a fully functional, professional looking website. Just point, drag, click your way to your very own website.

An added benefit is all of the pre-loaded, totally free templates. If you are a beginner, start there. You will be up and running in no time.

PageBreeze only has a user rating of 3 out of 5, but is by far the best free HTML editor for my use.

The more commonly used and higher rated editor is NVU. NVU is a good program, but just did not cut it with me. Try them both, after all, they are free. Plus they have a Mac version here.

Want something not on the list? Just search for it. I bet it’s out there. The nice thing about web 2.0 (modern Internet age) is all of the checks and balances, tools, etc… available to the common user.

After I have done a web search for software, I always look to see if it is on, CNET, or a similar trusted download site, and look for that little “Tested spyware free” sign.

You can also read through the user comments and learn about that particular software, and even about suggestions for other software in that area that may be more well suited for your use.

Have fun, and always be safe. If I can’t find a program on, I just run it through my AVG Anti-Virus free edition and check it for viruses. It hasn’t let me down yet.