AlternativeTo provides a simple, straight forward means to finding free software that will provide the same functionality as a commercial title. It offers listings for Windows, Mac, Linux, and online applications. They also have a fairly new Mobile section that offers listings of alternative software for smart phones like the iPhone, Windows Mobile devices, Android, Blackberry, S60, Palm Pre, and more.
Let’s say you need to edit some photos, particularly some .PSD files. So you start looking into Adobe Photoshop, but you find that it costs an Arm and a Leg in a better market than we’re in today. So, you just choose the tab that corresponds to the OS you’re looking for, Windows, Mac, Linux, or online or stick with the All tab and then type a search out for ‘Photoshop’. This will bring up a list of results and with some ratings from the social aspect of the site, so you’re getting recommendations for good software as well. From there, you can filter the results by three different aspects: tag, license, and platform. Tags are related tags or keywords that the community added to the software titles that showed up in your results. The license allows you to filter the results to commercial, free, or open-source. Platform, of course, allows you to limit the results based on the Operating System. If you started off in one of the platform tabs, this has already been set for you. You can then find a lot of great suggestions for alternative software that will provide the same functionality, some of them being free or open-source. Focusing on a result provides you with a lot of up-front information like the developing company, a link to download/purchase the software, and screenshots.
You can find the same thing on the AlternativeTo mobile site tailored to smart phones. There you’ll find the same abilities as the Desktop version, but the platforms changed for popular smart phones.
The community aspect is a great part to this site as well. Users can add suggestions for alternatives in case you’ve found a hidden gem, add likes (recommendation rating), and add comments. The site uses OpenID, so it’s a piece of cake to sign in and start contributing and collaborating.
Check out AlternativeTo to find software gems and save money when you’re looking at commercial titles.