Today a new PC will cost you hundreds, sometimes thousands of your hard-earned pounds. Components manufacturers spend time and money developing these complex pieces of hardware for us to buy. When it comes to software this is no longer the case, although a top of the range copy of Windows 7 will cost you upwards of £200, Microsoft Office £400+ and Adobe Master Suite a staggering £2700 (until the next version…in about two years).
With the exception of some Adobe suite features, most software that is available to buy, is also available for free, completely legally. This is open source software, and this is the future of the computing industry.
OSS is free. Free to use. Free to change. “Free as in free speech” as its known, it allows any user anywhere to modify the source code that runs the program.
What does this mean to the end user?
Well it means that your using the most up-to-date, secure and user-oriented piece of software in the world. Developed by thousands of people, all at the same time, all with different goals. The beauty of this type of software is that it will always be developed with the user in mind, because its created and maintained BY users.
A great example of saving yourself £400 and trying to hack away an the tens of billions of pounds of profit that Microsoft Corporation make EVERY YEAR – is OpenOffice. This is the open source equivilent to Microsoft Office, use it once and you will use it forever, it is better, faster, and completely cross-platform, so you can take all those old word docs and open them in OO.
To boil it down, the reason why Msoft are raking in our cash is publicity, reputation and promotion. For the families who go into Currys, PC World & Argos, they are sold the likes of Dell, HP and Acer systems with Microsoft Windows pre-installed. They will also be kindly provided with a 90 day free trial of office. Without this software, the consumer would easily give themselves a 20% discount, but since they are rarely informed of this, it’s hardly something that ill change overnight.
I wonder how many PC World customers have heard of free, open source software options?