To many, free open source software and Microsoft Windows seem to be mutually exclusive. After all, the open source development model is most closely associated with the Linux OS and, to a lesser degree, various Unix derivatives. So when you mention the two together, you often get some rather strange looks. This is a shame because there exists a growing landscape of compelling free and open source solutions just waiting for the intrepid Windows user.
You probably already know one of them well. Firefox has long stood as a prime example of how the open source development process can work to deliver a first-class solution that rivals, and in many ways surpasses, the best that the commercial side has to offer. However, it would be a mistake to make that arduous (for novices) trek to Mozilla.com and stop there. Over the horizon are many more FOSS-on-Windows treasures waiting to be discovered, including tools that can improve your productivity, expand your lines of communication, and help keep you safe from threats along the way.
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So if your perspective on open source is limited to squat s00miling penguins and swooshing orange canines, read on -- and learn about some of the free open source gems that deserve your consideration. Who knows? You may find yourself developing a whole new perspective on the open source community.
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