That said, Microsoft (and the other commercial software vendors) also has its flaws not least the constant and unnecessary product upgrades. My foray into open source has taught me that I can be just as productive as I was in my Windows days but save a small fortune into the bargain. Take a fairly average (non-corporate) project manager's software collection:
|Windows 7 (Home Prem/Full)||£149.99||Ubuntu 9.10 LTS||£0.00|
|Microsoft Office (Std '07)||£349.99||OpenOffice||£0.00|
|Microsoft Project (Std '07)||£519.99||OpenProj||£0.00|
|Microsoft Visio (Std '07)||£229.99||OpenOffice Drawing||£0.00|
|Windows Media Player||£0.00||RhythmBox||£0.00|
|Anti-virus software||c.£50.00||ClamTK Virus Scanner||£0.00|
That's a lot of cash!
There are a few caveats:
I know that the OS normally comes bundled with a new PC, but if you want to upgrade it will still cost you money and you're tied to the latest technology. Ubuntu on the other hand runs quite contentedly on a pretty old PC: there are exceptions, as my recent experience with Lucid Lynx demonstrates, but you can run an excellent (and safe) system on a recycled base (saving money & the planet).
I've used Microsoft's Retail List Price and no-one pays full price! However, you will pay quite a lot for most of the more arcane Office products (Project & Visio, especially) and they are not always substantially better than the free alternatives.
Some of the commercial software is just better than the free stuff. Again, I would rate MS Project and Visio as far better products than anything that I've found for free: but the question remains as to whether they are so much better as to justify several hundreds of pounds for each version/upgrade.
There are two other considerations when choosing an operating system: virus infections and footprint. Ubuntu is not as prone to attack as Windows and nor does it need the 16GB of disk space to run!