Free Software Versus Paid Software

Posted By: Claire Tuesday 16th February 2016 Tags: , , , ,

‘Free’, ‘gratis’, ‘for nothing’, ‘on the house’, and ‘complimentary’; all roughly translates to ‘free stuff’! ‘Free’ is good (generally) and can be very exciting because let’s face it, we all love something for nothing! Is free necessarily a good thing when it comes to IT Software? There’s an argument for yes and no, and we’re going to investigate.

What would you have chosen?

Think back to childhood and how exciting the job of choosing cereal was! Be honest, you’d opt for the packet with the BEST free toy, would you not? The sheer thrill of opening the box and sifting through sugary cereal in search of that small cellophane rapper! Alternatively, perhaps your parents made you wait, especially when brothers and sisters were involved. The fabulous free gift would only be won by the person whose bowl it landed in! Were you ever a winner of the fabulous reflective spokey dokeys?

So what comes free in business?

If we’re being wholly honest, free is usually a way to sweeten the deal. Granted, it may well be ‘added value’, in which case you’re providing clients with additional time potentially. Generally speaking however, if we’re offered something COMPLETELY for free, we question it. Even more so in business. Do we agree so far?

How About Free Software?

Itunes, the popular media player from Apple is free and it works as effectively as any paid for equivalent. The same is true of sought after PC optimizer CCleaner. The fact is however, Apple wants you to buy music from them to play on their hardware. CCLeaner offer their package for free whilst attempting to reel you in with the Pro version. What’s the difference between standard and pro? Quite simply, the latest version comes fully equipped with much needed features and technical support.

It’s clever stuff;

By tempting you towards their downloads, both Apple and PC Optimizer give you a free version that works…. But isn’t quite perfect. This psychological game of shopping draws us further in to feeling we couldn’t possibly live without said software and in order to gain the very best, we must pay for the very best.

“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”.

Or is there?

Naturally, at LaneSystems we have an entire team of IT specialists dedicated to understanding and implementing relevant software for our clients. In terms of hardware such as PC’s and laptops you can pretty much gain access to anything for free. There are however some amazing business benefits in certain paid options of proprietary and software.

Here’s some freebies;

From the ground up, you can install an operating system called Linux Ubuntu, use an office package called LibreOffice, utilise runtime environments, Google Chrome and Google Music, all at absolutely zero cost. Each of these software applications have enough features to get you going, ensure professionalism and keep you entertained sufficiently. Even with an installation of Windows, you can usually find a free equivalent to common software packages.

So why pay for Windows or Microsoft Office?

LibreOffice, a free alternative to Microsoft Office is arguably just as competent. But what happens when something goes wrong? As specialists we already know there is no free technical support line to call as opposed to paid. You could of course trawl forums for a relevant fix, but let’s face it; as a business owner, do you really have the time to do this?

Free software is underdeveloped;

Because it’s free, the software in this bracket has not been developed as thoroughly as that of the paid version. Potentially you can expect to spend a lot of time fighting with buggy features and complex, messy installation procedures. Unfortunately, this is the learning curve attached with all new software! So what should you do?

Try Free Software if Necessary

Free software such as LibreOffice is ideal for brand new companies looking to keep a tight hold on cash flow. Free music software may contain adverts but it’s certainly one less company expense. As long as you’re well informed and use free software with caution, you should be fine.

If security rules;

Using Microsoft Office 365 as a ‘paid for’ example, you’re investing in security, up-time and peace of mind. Should something happen to go wrong, there’s someone to help. In the majority of cases, issues are diagnosed and resolved quickly. If security is of most importance to you and your company, Office 365 is perfect. This widely used software guarantees complete compatibility with colleagues and clients.

But that;’s not all!

Here at LaneSystems we are experts in Office 365 alongside additional functionality such as Teams and SharePoint. Choosing software directly from the manufacturer works well as you always have an available point of contact. Taking this one step further however and choosing to implement software through your very own IT service provider means your point of contact us much closer.

Let’s wrap it up!

If you have the time, enjoy a technical challenge or are working on limited budgets, free software is a great alternative to the typical paid for software solutions. If however, you heavily rely upon software and don’t have the technical knowledge required, choose ‘paid for’ versions, every time. And of course, choose this through the professionals!

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