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 SwiftKey is a virtual keyboard app originally developed by TouchType for Android and iOS devices.
SwiftKey learns from previous typed text and outputs predictions based on currently inputted text and what it has learned.
SwiftKey is proprietary software. What are the best free and open source alternatives to SwiftKey for Android?
AnySoftKeyboard is an on screen keyboard with multiple languages support.
- Supports lots of languages via external packages.
- Physical keyboards are supported as well.
- Themes (skin) support.
- Incognito Mode – will not track your typing.
- Word suggestions, and Next-Word suggestions.
- Automatic correction can be customized, or turned off entirely. External packages include word lists that can be freely mixed. You can use a French layout and get suggestions for German and Russian.
- Gesture typing.
- Dark mode, automatic (based on system) and manual.
- Power saving mode, disables various features to save battery.
- Per-app tint, the keyboard changes color depending on the app.
- Voice input.
- Compact modes: Split and Compact to left/right.
- Special keyboard for text fields which require only numbers, dates, email or URI addresses.
- Plenty of emojis.
OpenBoard is a free and open source keyboard, based on AOSP, featuring spell correction, themes, and emojis.
3. Simple Keyboard
Simple Keyboard is created for those who only need a keyboard and nothing more.
FlorisBoard is more feature-rich than Simple Keyboard.
It aims at being modern, user-friendly and customizable while fully respecting your privacy. It’s currently in an early beta state.
If you’re looking for free and open source virtual keyboards designed for Linux, check out this separate article.
All articles in this series:
|Alternatives to Microsoft's Products and Services|
|Bing offers search services, including web, video, image and map search products. It's developed using ASP.NET.|
|Dynamics 365 is a product line of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management intelligent business applications.|
|Exchange Server is a mail server and calendaring server. Exchange uses a single building block architecture.|
|GitHub is a distributed version control and source code management functionality service. It includes non-Git elements.|
|Office is a family of client software, server software, and services. Microsoft has promoted Office 365 as the primary means of obtaining Office.|
|OneDrive is a file hosting service and synchronization service. Users can upload Microsoft Office documents to OneDrive.|
|OneNote is a note-taking program for free-form information gathering and collaboration. It gathers users’ notes, drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries.|
|Outlook 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.|
|Planner lets users create Kanban boards using content-rich tasks with features including files, checklists, and labels.|
|Project lets you develop schedules, assign resources, track progress, manage budget, and more. It's part of the Microsoft Office enterprise project management product.|
|Publisher is a desktop publishing application with focus on page layout and design. Use text, photos and links to make professional publications personal.|
|Skype 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.|
|Snipping Tool is a screenshot utility. It can take still screenshots of an open window, rectangular areas, a free-form area, or the entire screen.|
|SwiftKey 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.|
|Teams is a business communication platform. The service integrates with the company’s Office 365 subscription office productivity suite.|
|To Do is a cloud-based task management application. It allows users to manage their tasks from a smartphone, tablet and computer.|
|Visio is a diagramming and vector graphics application. Database modeling in Visio revolves around a Database Model Diagram (DMD).|
|Visual Studio is an integrated development environment. It is used to develop computer programs, as well as websites, web apps, web services and mobile apps.|
|Whiteboard 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.|
|Yammer is a social-networking platform for organizations. It’s a closed platform sometimes described as Facebook for businesses.|