Belfast Telegraph

Discover a wealth of free software

By Ruairi McNally

As a small business at this time of recession you may be looking for ways to reduce the amount you are paying out for some computer packages like Microsoft office or Adobe’s design studio.

Thankfully due to projects like Mozilla — who believe that the internet should be open, accessible and free — there are plenty of alternatives to paying out large sums for Office licences. To help you out here is a list of some software I would recommend. Anti-Virus software: There are a number of free anti-virus software products on the market which maybe watered down compared to what Norton and McAfee offer.

The most popular free software available is AVG free anti virus, Version 9 gives all the basic protection you need from virus scans, to spyware, a firewall and identity protection. Like paid for, off the shelf solutions it will automatically provide free updates when available and when connected to the internet. You can download this from . Others available include Panda Cloud and Avast

Internet Browser: Possibly the second most important piece of software on your PC outside anti-virus since it’s where you may spend most of your time.

Internet Explorer comes free with all Windows PCs and is the browser that most people use, but there are many free alternatives. The Mozilla project have produced the second most used browser for PC users known as Firefox and this can be downloaded at currently at update 3.6. Google have recently joined the browser war with the powerful Chrome browser which has been my choice due to its speed. Another alternative is the Opera web browser available at

Office Packages: Most people use Microsoft Office and its popular Word, Excel and Powerpoint products and would never think of changing. But there are a number of free options out there which support office documents and features to allow you to switch over as seemlessly as possible. Open Office is the best known of these developed by Oracle and is available for download at Open Office offers an integrated solution including word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, graphics and database software — in fact a carbon copy of Microsoft Office. Its now on version 3 so it has ironed out a lot of bugs and is much more in line with what people have been used to up to now using Microsoft products. Another alternative is Google Docs, , which allows you to modify and save documents, spreadsheets and presentations online. This software is different as it doesn’t live on your PC but can only be accessed online. It allows you to upload your Microsoft documents and do many of the things you can do with Microsoft Office but for free!

Email Packages: You may be familiar with Outlook and Encourage, but once again the Mozilla project have stepped in with a free alternative called Thunderbird. Once again free to download from, this email software is on version 3 so it has been hugely modified to make it as easy as possible to switch. You can import your contacts and existing email accounts easily and includes direct integration with other Mozilla products like their Firefox browser.

There are other free online equivalents like , and but thunderbird is the most powerful free desktop email client available.

Ruairi McNally is media director for Bluecube Interactive

Belfast Telegraph