Alternatives to Windows Programs

There are many alternatives to using Microsoft Windows and the applications that are made for it. One of the more popular alternatives is the Linux operating system. Just about everything you can do in Windows, you can do in Linux, sometimes even better and with more control. Linux has been around for quiet a long time, so its no surprise that there are a ton of applications out there that offer the same type of functionality that many of our favorite Windows applications have. This article takes a look at some of the most popular software applications used in Microsoft Windows and compares them with some alternatives that get the same job done.


  • Windows: Quick Books
  • Linux: GNUCash

    • GNUCash is a great accounting alternative to Quick Books. Though not as powerful and wide-scale as Quick Books, GNUCash is a perfect open source tool for small business and personal finance purposes.


  • Windows: Windows Media Player
  • Linux: MPlayer / VLC
    • MPlayer has the ability to play pretty much every video format in existence. MPlayer also comes with mencoder which allows you to convert video from one format to another.
    • VLC is another great alternative that is available for both Windows and Linux. It can also play just about any of the popular video formats.
  • Windows: Winamp
  • Linux: XMMS

    • XMMS is practically a clone of Winamp made for Linux. If you are a die hard Winamp user then you’ll feel right at home using XMMS. Heck, it even allows you to use Winamp skins. What more could you ask for?
  • Windows: ITunes
  • Linux: amaroK

    • amaroK has many of the same features ITunes provides. It’s defenitely worth checking out.

CD Burning:

  • Windows: Nero / Built In
  • Linux: K3b

    • K3b is an extremely easy to configure and use burning application. Just about anything you can do in Windows in regards to burning a CD or DVD, you can do with K3b.

E Mail:

  • Windows: Microsoft Outlook
  • Linux: Evolution / Mozilla Thunderbird
    • Evolution is a great mail client that provides integrated mail, address book, and calendar functionality.
    • Mozilla Thunderbird is another great mail client that is fast, easy to use and very reliable. I use Thunderbird on a daily basis. When I converted my office over to Thunderbird nearly two years ago, our internal technical support dropped nearly 25%. We later realized that a lot of our internal support was going to fixing issues that Microsoft Outlook was causing.


  • Windows: Adobe Photoshop
  • Linux: The Gimp / Photogenics

    • The Gimp offers many of the same features and functionality of Adobe Photoshop, and is available for both Windows and Linux.
    • Photogenics is a commercialized graphics tool that may cost you some money. I recommend the former, though I still wanted to mention this one.

Instant Messanging:

  • Windows: AOL Instant Messenger / MSN
  • Linux: Gaim
    • Gaim is a very robust instant messaging application built both for Linux and Windows. It is compatible with AIM and ICQ (Oscar protocol), MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, SILC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, Lotus Sametime, and Zephyr networks.


  • Windows: Microsoft Office
  • Linux: OpenOffice / Google Docs & Spreadsheets
    • OpenOffice offers the ability to read and create word documents, power point files, spreadsheets and more. There are very few functionality differences between Microsoft Office and Open Office.
    • Google Docs & Spreadsheets is a great online tool that allows you to also read and create word documents and excel spreadsheets. You can also save documents as other file types.

Web Browsing:

  • Windows: Internet Explorer
  • Linux: Mozilla Firefox / Konqueror
    • Mozilla Firefox is a fast and powerful web browser designed to run on both Linux and Windows. There are far fewer issues with spyware, adware, and pop ups making it far more secure than Internet Explorer. This is my browser of choice.
    • Konqueror is another great web browser for Linux. Designed by the KDE team, this browser has many similarities to Firefox.

I’ve covered just about all the mainstream applications and categories that I can think of. When it comes down to it, there will always be alternatives to windows programs, some will be better, some won’t. Furthermore, if your too stuck on a particular Windows application, but want to run Linux on your desktop, there are even alternative ways to run some popular Windows applications on Linux. Check out VMWare and Wine to learn more about that.

67 thoughts on “Alternatives to Windows Programs

  1. Pingback: Jason’s Random Tech News » Alternatives to Windows Programs

  2. Then there are the hardware drivers … I’ve tried 5 flavors of Linux, and not one supports all of my hardware. Unfortunately, Linux will not threaten MSFT or Apple on the desktop until at least one distro is supported in the main by leading hardware vendors (and I don’t mean PC OEMs; I mean mfrs of PC Cards, expansion boards, USB devices, etc.)

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  15. Thanks for the list. I’m willing to try outlook replacements, but the functions I use Word and Excel for are not really supported on any Linux ready programs I’ve seen. I hate that these two programs are keeping this OS back. (I’ve converted from PC games, so that doesn’t bother me).

    Forms, Tables, XML functions, and pictures all format very poorly in open office. The office I was in in 2005 converted to Open Office for cost reasons and I didn’t see that much difference. Today those programs are worlds apart. MS has really picked up thier game, but still has a lot of security issues and thier software is still a ram hog. I’m no fanboy, but I need functionality.

  16. Open Office is big crab when compared with windows office. I had to do a M.Tech report, so initially I tried with open office, It felt like very bad, then I did my report in windows office and one day opened the same report in open office again all allignment that I did were gone. There is no guarantee that open office correctly opens doc/docx created in windows office.

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