Freeware for Windows PCs
Software doesn’t come cheap and, depending on your needs, the cost for licenses may even be as high as the cost for your hardware, if not higher. However, there are legal ways to get costly software for free as well as numerous alternatives as freeware or open source downloads. There are many products out there, so this article will focus on common freeware for Windows PCs. If you are looking for an application not listed here, just take a couple of minutes searching the Internet and you are most likely to find a download matching your needs. But some caution is advised: when downloading and installing freeware, always make sure to scan the download with your anti-virus program and check that no additional software like security scanning programs, browser toolbars, and so on will be installed. Unfortunately, even some large companies have adopted the policy of trying to get you to install unrelated, bundled programs.
Getting some Microsoft software without spending a dime in a legal way can be easy if you’re a student. Depending on the contract between your university and Microsoft, some MS Office products may be free – most common are Office 365, Visio and Project. For your smartphone or tablet, anyone can install Microsoft Office apps without charge. Even Windows can be downloaded for free if you’re in a STEM field. With Projekt Neptun, you can buy a Lenovo or HP laptop without an OS and download Windows 10 from Microsoft Imagine (just make sure to check if it’s available for you first). We are focusing on freeware for Windows in this article, but most Linux builds are a great alternative if you want to go open source all the way – a two-part Introduction to Linux can be found on our blog (Part 1 and Part 2).
If you are looking for a free office suite, there are multiple alternatives to Microsoft Office. They can be grouped in two categories: Installed office suites and web-based solutions you access online. Installed software usually offers more features and higher customizability, whereas web-based software that may be part of a cloud can be accessed from everywhere and is easy to work with on the go and cross-platform.
The most well-known online solutions are Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online. Both products contain all common programs like text processing, spreadsheets and slides and offer cloud integration with their company’s services (Google Drive and OneDrive, respectively) which makes them particularly practical if you are already using one of these cloud services. MS Office Online is fully compatible with the MS Office desktop apps and handles like a scaled-down version of them, whereas Google Docs biggest strength is how smoothly it runs cross-platform. Other options for web-based office suits with their very own strengths include Polaris (comes with extra cloud storage), Zoho Workplace (focuses on collaboration) and Open365 (runs with a desktop client).
There are many free office suites available for installing locally on a Windows PC. The most popular are Apache Open Office (formerly known as OpenOffice.org) and LibreOffice. Apache Open Office and LibreOffice, which is a fork of the former, offer a completely free, open source and full-scale office suite which is fully compatible with all MS Office document formats. In addition to word processing, spreadsheets and presentations both suites also contain programs for working with vector diagrams, mathematical functions and databases. Many reviewers suggest choosing LibreOffice over Apache Open Office due to its modern interface and more frequent update schedule.
There are several other desktop solutions, many of them scaled-down versions of paid, premium office suites. WPS Office Free contains most features you need for everyday use, including text processing, spreadsheets and presentation. It runs cross-platform between Windows, Android and Linux and offers compatibility with MS Office file formats, but is known for showing you an ad now and then. SoftMaker Free Office contains a similar set of programs, offers the same compatibility and even includes a free PDF reader. It is ad-free but comes without a thesaurus, which can be quite a drawback.
Besides office suites, there are many small applications for your everyday use you can get for free. Due to the fact, that there is a multitude of these apps, we can only discuss a selection and will focus on backup and security programs.
If you are looking for a full-scale anti-virus software without having to pay for a subscription and are a Projekt Neptun customer, you are in luck: With an account, you can download Sophos for free from our website. Should you prefer a more compact anti-virus, you can find scaled-down versions of common programs like AVG or Avira for free. These still offer decent security; however, they may show you a popup praising their full security suite now and then.
Another free offer for Projekt Neptun customers is directed at users looking for an easy way to back up their data: with an account, you are able to download Langmeier Backup for free. Langmeier can not only secure your data, but also help you restore your entire PC, including the operating system.
If you are currently not a customer, you are still able to find good backup solutions: EaseUs offers an easy-to-use approach including scheduling, whereas Cobian is a more advanced tool with high customizability. Paragon focuses on ease-of-use on one hand and a full recovery option on the other and Google Backup is a fast, cloud-based way of securing your files, if you don’t need full system backups.
There is also a multitude of free and open source graphics programs and video editing tools that we will discuss more in-depth in a future article.
Freeware and open source software can be a great alternative to costly software and usually has most of the features you are used to. As a student, university employee or Projekt Neptun customer, you can even get some programs you’d otherwise have to pay for as free full versions.
Free software from project Neptun can be found here.
Links to Office Applications:
Microsoft Office Online: https://products.office.com/en
Google Docs: https://www.google.co.uk/docs/about/
Apache Open Office: http://www.openoffice.org/
WPS Office Free: https://www.wps.com/office-free
Polaris Office: https://www.polarisoffice.com/en/
SoftMaker FreeOffice: https://www.freeoffice.com/en/