Business software tools – Open Source Alternatives?

One of the major costs in business can be software licensing. Even a single legitimate version of Microsoft Office can cost around £300 which is quite an outlay just for one PC. Multiplied by 2, 3 or 4 times this can mean a substantial investment for a start up company.


Generally, a new business needs some kind of office software to help deal with bookings, paperwork, communication and marketing. The following list is a good starting point for a typical business computer:

  • Operating System (e.g. Microsoft Windows)
  • Web Browser
  • Email Client
  • Office Tools including a word processor, spreadsheet etc

A business can easily run on a low-end PC, priced around the £300 mark with Microsoft Windows Pre-installed. Initially, to save costs businesses could consider installing Open Office which is a free alternative to Microsoft Office (saving £300).  In addition, Google Docs offer much of the functionality of Microsoft but are accessed via the web. These are free but there are pricing options also available depending on the functionality and support that you require. Microsoft also provide an web based Office product called Office Live .

It’s possible to run a totally cost free (software) business computer using the following software components:

Having worked with both Linux and Windows based setups I have found that for basic business requirements, Linux wins hands down, purely on cost although for people used to Microsoft Windows there can be a learning curve if you are setting it up yourself.  If you need a little advice, please feel free to get in touch.  As business needs grow and additional specialist software is required, then Microsoft Windows tends to be the choice due to lack of established software for other business areas – e.g. accounting. In accounting’s case however, there are Opensource Accounting packages available – here’s a great list of free accounting packages here.

As businesses become larger, then they are likely to look at investing in technology to help them work as a team. This is where some major savings can be made, but an element of planning ahead is required to make sure that the correct choices are made when building the foundations of your infrastructure so that you can keep costs to a minimum.




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