4 free alternatives to expensive software

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Big name software often comes at a big price too. We’re not saying that you don’t get your money’s worth, but you can save a lot by going with these capable free options…

Operating System

Paid: Microsoft Windows

Price: Rs 6,000

This is the price for the cheapest variant — Windows 7 Home Basic — which does not even include the entire Aero interface. Other advanced features missing on this version include multi-touch support, Windows Media Centre, Windows XP mode and multiple language support. You can get all these features, but you’ll have to spend more for Windows 7 Home Premium. If you want to go for the latest Windows 8 operating system, be ready to spend 12,999.

Free: Ubuntu

There are different variants of Linux based free operating systems available for free. Ubuntu is one of the most popular free operating systems because it is easy to use, has low hardware requirements and includes the option to run from a USB drive or DVD. It comes with built-in document editing software, a chat client, email client and multimedia player. Most popular apps like Skype, Audacity, GIMP, Google Chrome and Steam are available for Ubuntu.

Image editing

Paid: Adobe Photoshop CS6

Price: Rs 51,597

For this huge price, you get the best image editing software available today. It comes with advanced features like type styles, vector layers, tilt shift effects, HDR editing and search layers. You can directly import RAW images from a camera for editing into Photoshop — obviously a big advantage for photographers. The user interface can be customised to suit your working needs and offers quick access to various tools and settings.

Free: GIMP

Nothing comes close to the features and controls that Photoshop offers for image editing. However, as a free alternative , GIMP stands its ground with a very similar interface. It also has support for layers, channel mixer, clone and healing tools and works with majority of image formats such as TIFF, PSD, PNG. Support for different RAW formats can be enabled with plugins. A great thing about GIMP is that it is available for Windows, Linux as well as Mac.

 Video editing

Paid: Adobe Premiere

Price: Rs 6,390

Adobe’s Premiere Elements 12 is an affordable and capable solution if you like to edit a lot of home movies. It has features designed for the novice and home user, including built in video tutorials, intelligent (automatic) video correction tools, various Hollywood-style effects and styles (like motion tracking: graphics that can move along with your subject) and finally, built in optimisation for upload to popular video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo.

Free: Lightworks

Lightworks is a step in a different direction. This is a fullyfeatured , professional video editing program that you can download for free (no catch). It supports HD video editing and all the other features you need. There’s a steep learning curve but you can get started with the free tutorial videos on the website. A paid Pro version is also available — it adds greater codec support, 3D support and lifetime Pro membership to the Lightworks community and more.

Documents

Paid: Microsoft Office 

Price: Rs 5,499

This is the price for the Home and Student edition of Office 2013 with a single PC license. You get Word, PowerPoint, Excel and One Note in the package along with 7GB of Sky-Drive storage to store documents. It also includes Office web apps sync for Skydrive which lets you view, edit and share documents from a browser on any computer. If you also want Microsoft’s Outlook client for email, you will have to pay 14,999 for Office Home & Business edition.

Free: Open Office

This popular free office suite can be installed on any number of computers — there is no license or registration required. It comes with document, spreadsheet and presentation creators, a database editor, equation/formulae editor and a graphics editor. You can read and save documents in most commonly used formats including all Microsoft Office formats. The interface is very similar to Microsoft Office and takes no time to master.

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