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  • #963935
    Carbonite Australia
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    I would like to know what small businesses are doing regarding their PC software needs, particularly as revenues start to get tighter.

    Are they looking for free alternatives or are they continuing to pay for licensed subscriptions?

    Arthur Koulianos
    BDM – AVG & Carbonite

    #1001122
    Creating Change
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    http://www.smartcompany.com.au/Blog/Brendan-Lewis-Blog/20081021-Solutions-and-theyre-free.html

    I am unsure if I could speak for a majority of people, however the link above holds an article which probably does speak for many entrepreneurs as Brendan Lewis is in that category and interacts with many people.

    #1001123
    Past-Member
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    I value the Adobe design software I use – and yes I pay for it despite it being expensive. I also pay to update it with every new release and budget for it in the 18 month new release cycle. I don’t like paying monthly license fees for software as I prefer to know that I own what I have paid for, including software. This bodes well in downtimes.

    #1001124
    ray_223
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    Hi Arthur,

    I’ve always been a huge open source fan (I’m a software developer by trade and enjoy the freedom of open source).

    But from a business point of view though the decision is much easier to make … what is the best ROI. Free software is great but if it takes twice as long to get the same results you are much better off using commercial software.

    Every year open source software is getting better … let me know if there is anything in particular you are looking for.

    Regards,

    Ray Smith
    RaymondSmith.com

    #1001125
    MissieK
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    It depends on what the software is… most of what I have I bought, or am covered by a liscence from my parents company.

    Melissa

    #1001126
    Angela communic8 design
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    I’m a huge fan of Google Docs, especially as I have a team in-house and out and lots of projects running at any one time that need to be tracked efficiently.

    We use spreadsheets hosted online for lots of our projects, this means any one of us can log in to access and update information as needed. It works really well, simple and reliable.

    I also encourage any clients who have larger documents to publish such as newsletters or magazines with multiple article contributors to use a word processing Google Doc. Saves all the ‘which version is the latest’, ‘where is the previous draft’… hassles.

    And, best of all, like so many things Google does, it’s free!

    #1001127
    Burgo
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    Open Office is free

    I recently bought a second computer an it came with microsoft office or so I thought untill I read the fine print it was a trial package.

    A friend sent me an email with an attachment and said if you cant open the attachment download open Office, so I did virtually the same as microsoft which wanted $ 499.00 for the programme yet I had only paid $ 480.00 for the computer.

    Goodadvice above posts, ta

    #1001128
    petercrocker
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    Lots of good advice and resources here.

    We’ve also published a couple of relevant articles on the topic of free software on Flying Solo with lots of examples and recommendations if you’re looking for more information:

    http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/p275766573_Free-software-or-freeware-for-small-business.html

    http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/p236155427_The-best-free-software-for-soloists.html

    Cheers,
    Peter

    #1001129
    @HeatherSmithAU
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    Peter has provided a link to an article I wrote on this subject – I am a big fan of free software. If you like the features, and need more you can take it to the next level and pay / upgrade.

    Many of these sites have ‘donation’ options if you feel guilty.

    GOOGLE has such a huge array of free software – before you buy anything you really need to see if they have it out there in beta or live version.

    #1001130
    Adam Randall
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    My thoughts are you generally get what you pay for, although Google has definitely purchased a few good companies and is offering some really good quality programs at no cost, this will only increase with time.

    Here is a link to an article I did a while back on choosing the right business accounting software

    Ultimately there are pros and cons to each. For someone who has not had much experience with computers then the free software like Open Office would be the same learning curve as MS Office.

    #1001131
    Ken Wood
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    Perhaps I can offer a data point that people may find interesting:

    I don’t know what the adoption rates are across the SMB market for open source software generally and Open Office in particular, but all my experience suggests they must be very, very low. I’d guess 5% or lower – I just NEVER see this stuff when I talk to SMBs… Whatever the number, it is definitely much less than in the large corporate space.

    I have my theories about the reasons for this, mostly that SMBs just lack the knowledge or expertise to choose, find and install good open source software. In the absence of quality technical advice, they do the same thing that we all do and fall back on well known brands.

    On our hosted service, we offer a broad range of open source software pre-installed and ready for use by our clients – including Open Office, along with software for drawing & design, image editing, project management, desktop publishing and more.

    But we consider Open Office the flagship indicator of take up, because everyone needs some type of document/spreadsheet editing software and our clients need to pay extra if they want to go with MS Office instead (Microsoft licensing policy).

    The last time we ran the numbers was in June of this year, at which time 44% of our clients had opted for Open Office – leaving (obviously) 56% on Microsoft Office.

    Obviously that’s a much bigger number than for the broader SMB space, which at this time almost entirely uses on-premises equipment. So I think the conclusion is that SMBs will happily use open source software in the right circumstances, in particular when it’s made easy for them to do so.

    Cheers,
    Ken

    #1001132
    tildavirtual
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    • Total posts: 53
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    It depends on my needs and if it talks cross platform. I run both Mac and peecee so if the software prefers one to the other then I’m covered.

    I don’t mind paying if I have to and I don’t mind using the open source software either. WordPress is one that I LOVE and use all the time!

    #1001133
    Rob
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    Open source free software can be good and as belts are tightening, looks like a viable option. I have paid for all the software I use and have found that as prices rise, I can search on the Internet for alternative products that will do the same job but not cost anywhere as much (a recent example is when one of my clients requested a specific report from the application I resell and was not available, I could have spent well over $1000 buying a well know report writing package yet a quick search on the Internet led me to a different product which still does the same job and cost around $400.00. I even had the programmer make a couple of changes to suit my needs…which he did with pleasure – and at no extra cost).

    Paying for software automatically implies that the people you bought it off have to give you some sort of support, etc. Getting a free softwae package could lead to frustration wen it doesn’t do what you want and there is no support available.

    Buy your software and support the developers who wrote it for you and help them make it better.

    #1001134
    ahortin
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    As with most people, I think it comes down to the type software you require. Being in the design business, the main leader in this field is Adobe. You’ll find that 99.9% of ‘professional’ designers use this software, no matter whether they’re on a Mac or PC, designing for the web or print. It’s purely something that’s required, if you want to keep in the game.

    On the other hand, providing web development services, I find that there is a huge uptake of Open Source software. This can range from operating systems like Linux, web development software such as PHP, mySQL, or even software applications such as Shopping carts (osCommerce), Forums (phpBB) or as others have mentioned, Open Office (just to name a few).

    The best thing to do is to have a good look around to see what’s available, both ‘free’ and paid and weigh up the merits of both in terms of what they can provide, price etc. etc.

    Cheers,
    Anthony.

    #1001135
    joe
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    • Total posts: 5
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    I would also recommend Open Office.

    The problem with much commercial software is that every year they have to give it a new lick of paint so they can sell you the latest new version. Open Source software doesn’t bother marketing make over as it benefits no one. M$ Office is a prime example. Most people don’t use 99% of the features so why buy it?

    I found this with the latest Adobe products that are so much slower than the old versions. I can’t find any new features that I need, so find myself just using the much faster 2 versions old version that I still have installed.

    On the server side we stick to the opensource Linux platform so we aren’t locked into some proprietary M$ platform.

    There are piles of other software out there like free/opensource mind mapping programs and graphics programs. Photoshop is usualy also overkill for most people. Keep your eye out, open source software if getting better all the time.

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