3.2.1 Applications

 Applications refer to programs such as word processors, spreadsheets, databases and Internet browsers. Basic applications are not necessarily a significant cost item, depending on: (i) the type of LCCD; (ii) the operating system; and (iii) software applications desired.

All low-cost computing devices come with some application software, along with the operating system. One cost consideration is whether commercial software such as the Microsoft Office suite of applications is necessary. If so, this software will need to be purchased; however, software manufacturers often give significant discounts for educational use of their software in many countries.37

Many software applications are available at no cost. For example, popular Internet browsers (e.g., Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc.) are free and run on different operating systems. Likewise, the Adobe Acrobat document reader is also a free download and runs on various operating systems. The OpenOffice suite can be downloaded for free and includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, graphic and database software.38 It is available in various languages, runs on a number of operating systems (e.g., Windows, Linux), and can read and write files from other common office software packages.
In some countries, LCCDs must be usable with open-source software, because of the high cost of commercial applications. There is also a philosophical argument that commercial applications are not really necessary for primary school children:
"Children—especially young children—need the opportunity to learn far more than Word Excel, and Powerpoint. Of course, picking up these skills, having grown up with a laptop, will be readily accomplished."39


37 Microsoft offers a Windows/Office bundle to Chinese students for $3. See: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=525. It also has the same deal for Russian students: http://www.silicontaiga.org/home.asp?artId=7535

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