Let’s be frank about this, computers are an essential part of our lives. We cannot live without them. Whether it is at home or at work, they are an integral part of daily life.
Reducing the total cost of ownership has always been a critical part of the decision making process when buying a new computer and that has never been more true than now.
Here are a few simple things you can do to achieve this goal.
Proprietary systems vs open source
Proprietary systems are owned by an individual or organisation. It is their intellectual property, which means they can charge you the customer anything they want. In contrast open source systems are generally free and come with a General Public License.
When it comes to operating systems (the stuff all your programs run on) there are two big names, Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X. These are proprietary systems, so you may find yourself spending a fair amount of money just to get an operating system onto your computer. If you want a new Windows 8 machine, Microsoft are offering great deals on the upgrade at the moment, so you may find some value in purchasing a new computer with Windows 7 and taking the upgrade. Whether this will save you any money over buying a new PC with Windows 8 already installed is a question you will have to ask yourself at the point of purchase. All of the special offers expire at the end of January though, so you need to act quickly.
Unless you are dependant on a specific piece of software that you know will only run on either Windows or OS X, then you can save your money by using something else. Our operating system of choice is Ubuntu. It is a Linux distribution made by the British company Canonical. Linux is Open Source and Canonical have kept it free with Ubuntu. There are a lot of free or low cost applications available in the Ubuntu Software Centre, including Windows emulation software (which allows you to install and run Windows applications).
When anyone mentions office software, you assume they are talking about Microsoft Office. It has become synonymous with sending e-mail messages (Outlook), writing letters (Word), creating spreadsheets (Excel) and visual presentations (Powerpoint). It has dominated the market for a long time and is a true success story. It does not come cheap though and if you need it for professional purposes and/or for multiple users, the costs start adding up quite sharply.
There are a few alternatives.
Google Docs (now part of Google Drive), allow you to do everything mentioned above except for e-mail. Everything is in the cloud with Google Drive, so you know your data is backed up. It is free for personal use, which is great for most people and it will work on any operating system. All you need is a browser and internet access. For businesses wanting to get more out of the services available, there is a cost though.
Open source to the rescue!
Two popular products exist for general office applications. OpenOffice and LibreOffice, which are both free. Versions are available for multiple operating systems which is good. Our favourite Ubuntu comes with LibreOffice pre-installed, which is great!
What about e-mail? Mozilla, the creators of the internet browser Firefox, have also created a free e-mail client called Thunderbird. If you need a calendar as well, then you can easily install the Lightning plugin for Thunderbird. Again our favourite OS Ubuntu comes with Thunderbird pre-installed, which is great!
Give open source a go
Whatever you choose with your next purchase, think about this. You can try an open source product and it will not cost you anything. If you decide after a week of using something that it really is not for you, then you can go back to the products you know.
Google Drive, LibreOffice, OpenOffice and Thunderbird are all available for you to try now. You do not need to buy a new machine to experience them for yourself.
Using a bootable USB stick or DVD, you can even experience Ubuntu on your current computer without installing it onto your hard drive.
If you are interested in saving money and would like some help, or would like a demonstration of Ubuntu or one of the other products mentioned above, give us a call.
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