Fact: Open Source Software saves money

Fact: Open Source Software saves money

Summary: I've hit on this subject many times, where open source software for business can rise over proprietary software.Just today, I ran across an experience with Microsoft Excel.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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I've hit on this subject many times, where open source software for business can rise over proprietary software.

Just today, I ran across an experience with Microsoft Excel. A need for generating Code 128 barcodes in Excel came up. Immediately upon looking, there are naturally additional plugins for Excel that will do this. And there are several of them out there, all developed by a different party. They are not super cheap, however, and are about half of the cost of Microsoft Office itself. Not only this, but they are victim to very strict licensing as well. Some offer a one-time cost per workstation, and others offer a site license which must be renewed by year. But the same concept applies, the more you want to use the software, the more you must pay.

Unfortunately where the Code 128 barcode solution is needed, Microsoft Office is deployed currently. Just for personal knowledge, I looked and found that OpenOffice/LibreOffice Calc has a plugin for generating Code 128 barcodes, and it's FREE. In fact, the plugin itself is open source as well.

The practice of charging money for closed source software seems to be a plague. Many times, plugins and addons for proprietary and closed source products are also proprietary themselves, and are not free as in cost. Take for example, plugins for Internet Explorer compared to Firefox. I've seen quite a few plugins for Internet Explorer offered as shareware, which cost money. In Firefox it is a completely different story, where plugins are offered free of charge and the selection is vast. In this one case here, the company could save quite a bit of money by using open source software like OpenOffice/LibreOffice, instead of Microsoft Office. In the cases where an open source product is offered for fee, it is generally offered at a very affordable price. Why? Because a lot of the development work is done voluntarily, which is at the heart of creating software.

And this isn't the first time that I've seen cases where a considerable amount of money could be saved, if the business had switched to open source software when they had the chance. Proprietary and non-free products not only require an initial purchase, but often require re-purchasing upgrades at certain intervals, in order to stay compatible with the current hardware and/or Windows operating system. Open source products are updated but are still provided at no cost to the community. The entire development cycle for open source software is community driven, very much similar to the popular website Wikipedia. Wikipedia relies on volunteers to supply and edit the information on the site. And it's proven to be highly successful; this model is highly successful in many areas. It's unfortunate that more businesses do not see this potential, and continually dip into their pocketbook year after year, to pay recurring software expenses with no end in sight. You could almost consider buying proprietary software as a very expensive lease. You are told you own the software by the vendor, but at some point you will be forced to re-purchase a newer version and your investment's value is continually depreciating.

While vendors for proprietary software will be quick to say that their software provides "familiarity" and is "higher quality", and "is where the money is at, so it's better", and others, sometimes this simply isn't true. Years ago, when proprietary software was the only option available, some of these statements would have been true. But those days are gone.

Topic: Open Source

Chris Clay

About Chris Clay

After administering Linux and Windows for over 17 years in multiple environments, my focus of this blog is to document my adventures in both operating systems to compare the two against each other. Past and present experiences have shown me that Linux can replace Windows and succeed in a vast variety of environments. Linux has proven itself many times over in the datacentre and is more than capable for the desktop.

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3 comments
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  • Maybe look a little harder? Or would that ruin a good bashing opportunity?
    http://freebarcodefonts.dobsonsw.com/code128-excel-addin.html
    honeymonster
  • honeymonster, the link you provided is shareware, so it's low cost but technically not free. You are licensed only to try it for free, but need to pay $55.92 through PayPal if you actually want to use it.
    bamm-234a9
  • honeymonster :
    Thanks for the link. That product is NOT free, however, which was the focus of my article. And it turns out that they would need 5 licenses (for 5 workstations). $175 or $0... that's the difference in this case between proprietary and open source alternatives. And what will happen when the next version of Microsoft Office comes out? Will we need to re-purchase 5 copies of the plugin again, if it fails to work with the newer version of Office?
    Chris_Clay