Lifehacker puts together a list of programs that might, if you squint a little, resemble the Adobe Creative Suite. As they admit, their alternative collection is not as powerful as CS, but the price of free would go a long way to excusing that fault in the eyes of many users. Professionals will still want the heavy artillery, but casual users will find much of interest in this list.
Want to view Word docs accurately without the expense of buying the program? Microsoft thoughtfully provides a free Word viewer download. Very handy for those who use open source or browser based word processors that don't always display Word documents exactly the way originally intended. Like the free Adobe Acrobat viewer, the viewer does not provide any editing functionality.
Soda PDF is a free PDF reader (in a crowded field) that renders a PDF as if it was a 3D magazine. One turns pages by 'pulling' the page across in a realistic simulation of an actual page turn. While emulating a print publication in such a literal way might seem retrograde, there is something satisying about the reading experience, and it is an aesthetically pleasing way to preview design work (particularly files destined for print). The effect renders very quickly and smoothly, and can be turned off if you want to go back to old fashioned flat viewing.
When installed in your browser, Cooliris converts a standard image search session into a rather more attractive (and possibly more useful) slide show. Google, Bing, Picasa and Flickr image searches are supported (among others). If nothing else, it can make a prosaic image search into a more interactive and almost three dimensional affair.
Once a dominant force in small business accounting, MYOB is facing competitive pressure from two online bookkeeping solutions: Saasu and Xero. The advantages of a browser based window into your finances are many, especially in freeing you from one record-keeping location. MYOB is also offering an online solution, but it is lacking some of the features of their desktop product. Saasu allows users to import MYOB data, whereas the MYOB offering ironically lacks much of an import facility.
Web designers vent in .net magazine about the inadequacies of industry standard web authoring tools, particularly those released by Adobe. They assert that the programs are mired in old technology, and do not reflect the contemporary web of css, html 5, resizeable sites and mobile devices. Their dream product would be able to accurately preview how design elements would display in a browser, and offer WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) control over design elements, plus access to code.