Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Microsoft

Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Microsoft Edge

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 EdgeMicrosoft Edge is a proprietary cross-platform web browser. It is a Chromium-based browser with Blink and V8 engines.

Edge is available for Linux but it’s proprietary software. We recommend the best free and open source alternatives.


1. Firefox

Firefox is a mainstream web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation.

Firefox offers a good set of functionality including essentials like tabbed browsing, spell checking, incremental search, live bookmarking, Smart Bookmarks, private browsing, and an integrated search system. Private Browsing deletes cookie data when you close the browser window and doesn’t track your browsing data.

As an open source project, transparency and openness are an essential part of their founding principles.

Firefox is at the core of most privacy-focused browsers.

Firefox
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2. ungoogled-chromium

ungoogled-chromium is a web browser with privacy in mind. It’s a variant of Chromium that aims to retain the experience of Chrome without the Google-specific web services.

The software is essentially a collection of patches applied to Chromium during the compilation process. This means that it’s a drop-in replacement for Chromium as opposed to other forks.

The project also adds features including lots of command-line switches which makes the web browser much more configurable than Chromium. The project has also added suggestions URL text field, more URL schemes, as well as an Omnibox search provider “No Search”.

ungoogled-chromium in action
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3. Tor Browser

Tor Browser aims to make all users look the same, making it difficult for you to be fingerprinted based on your browser and device information. This web browser lets you avoid surveillance, tracking, and censorship. There’s multi-layer encryption to boot.

Tor (The Onion Router) is a technology stack that hides web activity. Tor works by sending your traffic through three random servers (also known as relays) in the Tor network. The last relay in the circuit (the “exit relay”) then sends the traffic out onto the public Internet.

Tor Browser in action
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4. Waterfox

Waterfox is a fast and privacy conscious web browser powered by Gecko, a browser engine developed by Mozilla. It is used in the Firefox browser, the Thunderbird email client, and many other projects.

The browser is all about balance of privacy and usability. Too much focus on privacy and the web becomes too broken to use. Too little and data leakage happens. With Waterfox, you should find comfort in knowing that what you are doing inside your browser is only known by you.

Waterfox
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There are many other web browsers available for Linux. Here’s our curated roundup including other fine alternatives to Apple Safari.


All articles in this series:

Alternatives to Microsoft's Products and Services
Microsoft BingBing offers search services, including web, video, image and map search products. It's developed using ASP.NET.
Microsoft CalculatorCalculator is a simple yet powerful calculator that includes standard, scientific, programmer, and graphing calculator functionality, as well as a set of converters between various units of measurement and currencies.
Character Map is used to view the characters in any installed font, to check what keyboard input is used to enter those characters, and to copy characters to the clipboard in lieu of typing them.
Microsoft DynamicsDynamics 365 is a product line of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management intelligent business applications.
Microsoft EdgeEdge is a cross-platform web browser. It is a Chromium-based browser with Blink and V8 engines.
Microsoft Exchange ServerExchange Server is a mail server and calendaring server. Exchange uses a single building block architecture.
Microsoft GitHubGitHub is a distributed version control and source code management functionality service. It includes non-Git elements.
Hyper-V is a Type 1 hypervisor; it can create virtual machines on x86-64 systems running Windows.
Narrator is a screen reader that’s included with every copy of Microsoft Windows.
Microsoft OfficeOffice is a family of client software, server software, and services. Microsoft has promoted Office 365 as the primary means of obtaining Office.
Microsoft OneDriveOneDrive is a file hosting service and synchronization service. Users can upload Microsoft Office documents to OneDrive.
Microsoft OneNoteOneNote is a note-taking program for free-form information gathering and collaboration. It gathers users’ notes, drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries.
Microsoft OutlookOutlook is a personal information manager that's primarily an email client. It includes calendaring, task managing, contact managing, note-taking, journal logging, and web browsing.
Microsoft PlannerPlanner lets users create Kanban boards using content-rich tasks with features including files, checklists, and labels.
Microsoft ProjectProject lets you develop schedules, assign resources, track progress, manage budget, and more. It's part of the Microsoft Office enterprise project management product.
Microsoft PublisherPublisher is a desktop publishing application with focus on page layout and design. Use text, photos and links to make professional publications personal.
Icon of Microsoft SharepointSharePoint is a web-based collaborative platform that’s often used as a document management and storage system.
Microsoft SkypeSkype is software for VoIP-based videotelephony, videoconferencing and voice calls. The software also provides instant messaging, file transfer, debit-based calls to landline and mobile telephones (over traditional telephone networks), and more.
Microsoft Snipping ToolSnipping Tool is a screenshot utility. It can take still screenshots of an open window, rectangular areas, a free-form area, or the entire screen.
Microsoft SwiftKeySwiftKey is a virtual keyboard app for Android. SwiftKey learns from previous typed text and outputs predictions based on currently inputted text and what it has learned.
Microsoft TeamsTeams is a business communication platform. The service integrates with the company’s Office 365 subscription office productivity suite.
Windows TerminalTerminal is billed as “a modern, fast, efficient, powerful, and productive terminal application for users of command-line tools and shells like Command Prompt, PowerShell, and WSL”. It offers multiple tabs, panes, Unicode and UTF-8 character support, a GPU accelerated text rendering engine, and custom themes, styles, and configurations.
Microsoft To DoTo Do is a cloud-based task management application. It allows users to manage their tasks from a smartphone, tablet and computer.
Microsoft VisioVisio is a diagramming and vector graphics application. Database modeling in Visio revolves around a Database Model Diagram (DMD).
Visual StudioVisual Studio is an integrated development environment. It is used to develop computer programs, as well as websites, web apps, web services and mobile apps.
Microsoft WhiteboardWhiteboard provides a freeform, intelligent canvas where you and your team can create, and collaborate visually via the cloud. Designed for touch, type, and pen, it lets you write or draw as smoothly as you would with ink.
Microsoft YammerYammer is a social-networking platform for organizations. It’s a closed platform sometimes described as Facebook for businesses.
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