Free yourself from commercial software
The next stage in your trial of free, open source software (FOSS) is to try the Ubuntu operating system. This can be done without disturbing your Windows system. In fact, it can be done without installing anything on your computer.
To start your trial, create a bootable USB flash drive or DVD. This is done by first getting a disc image file from the Ubuntu download page, and writing it to the flash drive or DVD. Instructions for doing so can be found on the "Try Ubuntu Before You Install It" page.
Set your computer to boot from the alternative device, shut it down, start it back up, and your computer can now boot up in Ubuntu, instead of Windows.
The Ubuntu trial version includes a Web browser, an e-mail client, and assorted utilities and applications. Not all of these are fully functional in the trial version, but it'll be enough to see that they can replace your Microsoft applications and utilities.
When you're finished with Ubuntu, just shut down, remove the boot device, and restart to return to Windows.
Be aware that running Ubuntu from a DVD is slower than running it from a flash drive and that, whichever medium you use, all work will be lost on exit.
Whether you use a flash drive or a DVD, hang onto it. If you decide to make the switch to Ubuntu, the same device can be used to perform the installation.
Please send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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