Software can be expensive if you're not smart about it. Free programs have been a mainstay of the desktop experience for decades, and the offerings only get more powerful and fascinating each year. As PCs compete with smartphones, it gets even better. Software developers can adopt an ad-based model, donation-ware to keep things afloat, or a shareware/freemium model that charges for extra features.
Mozilla's email client extraordinaire has jumped to version 45, but it still has all the features that made it great: account setup wizards, multiple languages, hundreds of add-ons, a tabbed interface, great search, junk mail and phishing tools, and the option for a personalized email address with your own choice of a domain name. Migration from previous versions is a breeze and worth it if you're on the desktop.
O&O ShutUp10 lets you manually tinker with your security settings, so you can decide what your computer accesses and how it uses the information it gathers. The tool also rates whether certain security settings are recommended, guiding you through the process. This is handy because most of us have no idea what settings strike a perfect balance between privacy and convenience.
Autodesk® Inventor® software provides engineers and designers a professional grade solution for 3D mechanical design, simulation, visualization, and documentation. Autodesk Inventor includes powerful modeling tools as well as multi-CAD translation capabilities and industry standard DWG™ drawings. Helping you to reduce development costs, get to market faster, and make great products.
Ubuntu updates yearly, once majorly and once with just fixes. But each iteration brings new tools and developments. Last year the Linux distro even made the leap to tablets; that after trying to power smartphones in 2015. The latest version for desktops and laptops comes with a full suite of software (including LibreOffice), access to thousands more (and many free—just look for the penguin icon throughout this story). It's the Linux of choice here at PCMag, for it's one that is easy to master by just about any user.
When talking about free software, it is best to avoid using terms like “give away” or “for free,” because those terms imply that the issue is about price, not freedom. Some common terms such as “piracy” embody opinions we hope you won't endorse. See Confusing Words and Phrases that are Worth Avoiding for a discussion of these terms. We also have a list of proper translations of “free software” into various languages.
Although the term free software had already been used loosely in the past, Richard Stallman is credited with tying it to the sense under discussion and starting the free-software movement in 1983, when he launched the GNU Project: a collaborative effort to create a freedom-respecting operating system, and to revive the spirit of cooperation once prevalent among hackers during the early days of computing.