It is possible to obtain some software free of charge or at very low cost.
Open source software is openly developed and shared in the public domain. Developers throughout the world contribute to developing the software on the basis that no one owns the work and it is always made freely available to others. This development work is primarily focused on the more technical side of computing, but there is some open source business software that may be of interest. One to look at is Open Office which is a set of office productivity software such as a word processor and spreadsheet.
Freeware and shareware relate to software that has been developed by enthusiasts and is available for free or low cost. At lot of this software is very technical or has a consumer focus, but you may find something suitable for a small business. As always be very careful about what you buy and who you buy from. Not all freeware or shareware is of good quality and indeed some of it may damage your PC or carry out inappropriate actions such as logging your key strokes which will compromise your PC security. See our guide on PC security for details on
malware and viruses
You also need to consider the compatibility issues of using non-mainstream software. If a customer sends you a file in one popular format and you do not have the correct software loaded you may not be able to read the data. Likewise you may end up sending out files in difficult to access formats which will irritate customers and suppliers alike.
Business IT Guide
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