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It’s free and it works

WHILE Microsoft is still the most widely used software available, the growing support for Linux through organisations such as Telstra and IBM is heralding increased competition for the software giant and attracting the attention of other mainstream businesses.

For businesses interested in alternatives to Microsoft, commercial out-of-the-box versions of Linux are designed for easy implementation and also offer a high level of support.

Organisations such as Red Hat (www.redhat.com.au) and Suse (www.suselinux.com.au) provide Linux through commercial distribution and support contracts.

This makes it accessible to mainstream businesses, as it is available as an easy-to-install software package with telephone and email support designed for the everyday user. The same applies to open-source desktop applications.

While Open Office is a free desktop application, StarOffice is its commercial counterpart, which is also an out-of-the-box solution designed for business by SunMicrosystems. It runs on multiple operating systems, including Linux and Windows.

There is also a credible free Internet browser available, Mozilla, which can be downloaded from www.mozilla.org and also runs on multiple operating systems.

The arguments against open source in mainstream business are many and include the fact that it can be difficult and expensive to implement and integrate into existing systems. However, commercial vendors of open-source software make it more accessible to the less technically savvy, and provide a level of service and support required by business.

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