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Best Free Software of 2009

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Best Free Software of 2009
In the era of Windows and Mac software, "free" has almost become a bad word. Even if you do manage to find a free program, chances are it's going to be almost useless. Well, not always. While an increasing number of "free" programs are mere trials and lack the access that comes with the full version, there is still hope out there. Thanks to the democratizing powers of the Internet and the efforts of countless volunteers, open source software has come into its own, with decent alternatives to almost any mainstream, commercial program available. The advent of cloud computing means that some of these don't even require you to download any programs, as the program is available to use directly on the web.

Here's a list of 12 programs and websites that deliver the goods and for free! Check it out:

OpenOffice

The best alternative to Microsoft Office comes in the form of open-source office software that includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, and databases. OpenOffice is extremely user-friendly and, believe it or not, it's free too! It provides a seamless transition for Microsoft Word users and it boasts some fantastic features.

GIMP

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a freely distributed piece of software suitable for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring. It is a powerful piece of software with capabilities not found in any other free software product. It is easily the best alternative to Photoshop, especially for those on a budget, and is cross-platform, available for Windows, Macs, and Linux.

Audacity

With so many audio editors out there, finding the right tool for the job can be tricky. The multi-platform, open-source editor Audacity has leaped to the top of the list with a clean interface, excellent features, and support for 32-bit floating-point audio. In terms of quality, Audacity is in a league of its own.

ClickCaster

ClickCaster is an online application that allows rich media distribution via RSS. The system allows uploading of any file type, but the service is focused on audio and video podcasts, though only audio podcasting is free. The free package includes storage of 125 MB, which is more than enough for blogging and will do for audio podcasting.

BlueFish

Imagine, a program that makes HTML accessible without producing junk. Bluefish doesn't stop at HTML creation; it also provides a useful set of options for previewing HTML both in a browser or a popup window. It's a great tool for newer users to get feedback on their HTML.

PhotoScape

A fun and easy-to-use photo editing program – who would have thought such a thing existed? There's no possible way to begin to describe the wide range of tools and features this one has: there's everything from a file viewer to a photo editor, slide show creator, batch editor, screen capture program, and more.

Weebly

Weebly is one of those websites that sounds too good to be true. Rest assured, it's a legit website, and we have to admit it's pretty cool. You can make your own website, and no technical skills are required! At least one million users have taken advantage of the utter simplicity and great performance of Weebly so far.

Skype

Fellow Islamic Insights writer Abbas Lakha covered Skype for us previously; check out his piece on Skype.

Zoho

Zoho has spreadsheet, word-processing, presentation, and organizing programs, and lets you work both online and off; it even has an iPhone application. It also boasts e-mail, spreadsheets, and Wikis. In all, Zoho sells 17 productivity and collaboration apps, all for prices that, by traditional software standards, are dirt cheap. For regular users, it's free; for business customers, a mere $50 will give you access to incredible features with Zoho.

Remember the Milk

With almost 750,000 thousand users, RTM is quickly becoming a favorite among web users. Manage tasks quickly and easily with RTM and get reminders via email, SMS, or instant messages. Users can work together and share tasks with others; additionally, you can even map your tasks on the neat map feature.

NetStumbler

NetStumbler is most useful for pinpointing details of a wireless network, helping you configure, secure, optimize and discover. Here's a bonus: it's an award-winning service too.

Zekr Quran Reciter

Zekr is a powerful open source program that is fully featured with advanced searching, navigation, recitation, and commentary of the Quran. It is fully customizable, allowing the changing of reciters and translations and is available in a variety of languages. This impressive program is also fully cross-platform, available for Windows Mac and Linux.

Author of this article: Huda Jawad and Ali Mahdi
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