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Articles Computers Software >> View Article

By: Vance Gay
Software is becoming a commodity. No longer do you have to pay large sums of money to install and use a sophisticated piece of software on your personal computer at home or at work. But finding high quality good software can be a challenge.

Free software comes in many forms and shapes. For many people free software is associated with what is known as open source but open source is really just one kind of free software and actually some open source based software is not free at all. Free software can simply be software that is developed by a company that is trying to make a profit by using such free software as a marketing tool. For example if a company likes to build a brand it can develop and deploy high quality software for free that will be used by many users. When users get used to the software the company can try to up sell another non free version of the software with more features.

Another reason why and how companies deploy free software is by making software free to certain users while other users have to pay for it. The most common example is the separation of home users from corporate users. The idea is simple. The software vendor assumes that home users are not likely to pay for using the software anyway so giving them software for free does not represent real lost. On the other hand corporate users do tend to pay the licenses for the software they use. If a user gets used to using a software at home there is a good chance the user would also prefer to use that software at the workplace thus the user ending up buying that software for corporate use. Two of the most known software categories that use that scheme are anti virus software and compression software utilities.

Open source is probably the most common type of free software. While starting as an ideological movement of people that believed software must be free and available to all in both source and binary format it was later on adopted by companies that turned open source into a cash generating business. The idea was that open source allowed companies to significantly cut on their development costs as a large number of developers all over the world contributed their know how and time for free to the effort of developing the software. While the software was available for free to everybody with more complex software corporate users needed to get extra services such as support in installation and ongoing maintenance. This is how the software company would make its money. Instead of selling software it would give it absolutely for free but if someone needed extra services like support and installation they would have to pay.

And lastly there is one more important reason why so much free software is developed and available these days. The Internet provided an super efficient tool for collaborating on software development. At the same time many development tools became so sophisticated that the know how needed in order to contribute to software development projects was diluted. As a result the potential number of people that can participate in such open source project sky rocketed helping make open source what it is today.
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