Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Microsoft

Best Free Alternatives to Microsoft Bing

Microsoft’s stance for decades was that community creation and sharing of communal code (later to be known as free and open source software) represented a direct attack on their business. Their battle with Linux stretches back many years. Back in 2001, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer famously tarnished Linux “a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches”. Microsoft also initiated its “Get the Facts” marketing campaign from mid-2003, which specifically criticized Linux server usage, total cost of ownership, security, indemnification and reliability. The campaign was widely criticized for spreading misinformation.

However, in recent years, there has been a partial shift by Microsoft to embrace the open source software paradigm. For example, some of their code is open sourced. Examples include Visual Studio Code, .NET Framework, Atom, and PowerShell. They have also made investments in Linux development, server technology and organizations including the Linux Foundation and Open Source Initiative. They have made acquisitions such as Xamarin to help mobile app development, and GitHub a hugely popular code repository for open source developers. And they have partnered with Canonical, the developers of the popular Ubuntu distro. But many developers remain hugely sceptical about Microsoft and their apparent shift to embrace open source.

This series looks at the best free and open source alternatives to products and services offered by Microsoft.

Microsoft Bingis a web search engine owned and operated by Microsoft. The service has its origins in Microsoft’s previous search engines: MSN Search, Windows Live Search and later Live Search. Bing provides a variety of search services, including web, video, image and map search products. It is developed using ASP.NET.

There are lots of alternatives to Bing. We only recommend the best free alternatives to Bing in this article.


1. Google Search

Google Search is a hugely popular web search engine with more than 92% market share.

But there are many who are concerned about how the service tracks them. If you believe that Google invades your privacy, what other alternatives do we recommend?


2. Startpage

Startpage is a Dutch-based Google search alternative that stakes its reputation as a privacy search option. The service actually retrieves its search results from Google, paying them to get a feed of links for any search. Startpage submits your query to Google anonymously, then returns Google results to you privately. Google never sees you and does not know who made the request; they only see Startpage. Obviously using Startpage doesn’t break away from Google’s ecosystem.


3. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo collates data from hundreds of sources including Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia and Bing, with their own proprietary web crawler, to surface the most relevant results. Google does exactly the same, albeit on a somewhat larger scale. The main difference is that DuckDuckGo does not store IP addresses or user information. There isn’t storing or tracking of a user’s search history. Therefore there is no profiling of users, and all users see the same search results for a specific search term. Some of DuckDuckGo’s source code is open source published under the Apache 2.0 License, but the core is proprietary.


4. Qwant

Qwant is another search engine that sets its store by claiming it doesn’t employ user tracking or personalize search results. As Qwant is based in France, users gain some protection due to tighter European privacy laws.


All articles in this series:

Alternatives to Microsoft's Products and Services
GitHubDistributed version control and source code management functionality of Git
OneNoteNote-taking program for free-form information gathering and collaboration
ProjectDevelop schedules, assign resource, track progress, manage budget +
YammerSocial-networking platform for organizations
BingSearch services, including web, video, image and map search products
OneDriveFile hosting service and synchronization service
OutlookPersonal information manager that's primarily an email client.
OfficeFamily of client software, server software, and services

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