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Yes, We're Australian
(And Why It Doesn't Matter)

The Free Software Store is produced in Australia for a world-wide audience.

This means that we use standard British English rather than American English on our site (so you may find we use "s" rather than "z" on many words and add a "u" to "colour").

We also tend to be a bit forthright in our reviews (ie our opinions are rarely sugar-coated).

But they're honest, well-meant opinions. And we hope that shines through our occasional rough edges or statements that more sensitive souls might find breath-takingly frank (eg: our opinions about spammers and why stringing them up may be the only language their kind understand - and yes, we're joking. Well, maybe...).

Australia - like Europe and Japan - is also a culture that pays a high degree of attention to quality.

So in our reviews you'll find that we pay attention to issues like software usability and the absence or presence of bugs that some other sites might not.

From an Australian point of view, these rate just as importantly with us (sometimes more importantly) than mere functionality (eg: we think it's no use if a piece of software does 10 different things if 5 of them fall over or one of them messes up your Registry).

However, software in the 21st century is a global product.

So no matter where you live in the world, we think our reviews should be just as relevant to you as they are to everyone else.

And we welcome your feedback at any time.

About Us
Background: The Free Software Store was established in 1996 and we reviewed three new programs every fortnight until 1998. Then we were called away on other business and didn't return until early 2008.

As you can imagine, what we found when we came back was that roughly 50% of the products we reviewed in 1996-1998 had disappeared. And many of the rest had mutated out of all recognition.

So in January 2008 we began the long process of rebuilding The Free Software Store from the ground up.

Our primary concern was to rebuild new content first (a process that took us eight months). But when we felt we had sufficient new content to retire our old, outdated content we launched our Version 3.0 design (ie the one you see right now) on 21st August 2008.

And from this point onwards we also moved to regular weekly site updates.

Our mission in life is simple: to bring you terrific, free, first-class software products every week, and do it in a way that is both interesting and informative (and at the same time relatively free of geek-speak).

You can find the answers to some other common questions that our visitors have asked us in the FAQs below:


Q: What's The Free Software Store really all about?

A: There are literally tens of thousands of free programs available on the Internet at any point in time. And there are are large number of very good web sites which catalog them. However, we believe that not everyone has either the time or the inclination to seek out a software solution by reading hundreds of program descriptions and then downloading and testing all the ones that catch their interest.

Instead, we do this ourselves. And then we present what we believe are the best half-dozen free software solutions in each category (sometimes slightly more, sometimes slightly less).

We do this to save our visitors time and to help them focus on best-of-breed solutions rather than also-rans.

In a time-stressed society where we're often presented with a bewildering array of choices, we think this approach is helpful to anyone who wants a good solution fast (but to help people who have more free time at their disposal and/or who find that the software in our reviews doesn't quite fit their needs, we also provide links where you can inspect hundreds of other programs in any category).

Q: Are you qualified to provide this sort of advice?

A: Yes, we think so. We hold undergrad and postgrad degrees in information technology and we've been working hands-on in the IT&T industry since 1988 as systems analysts, programmers and web developers.

So while we may not know every facet of IT in depth - and being human, we certainly don't claim to be right about everything - we certainly do know the theoretical underpinnings of all these facets and how they link together into the Big Picture.

We also like to share our accumulated professional knowledge in plain English because we understand that computing and software can be very confusing (and often daunting) for many people.

So for each software category we not only try to explain its history and context (ie where that software fits into the greater scheme of things) but also to highlight any important issues that might attach to it. And if this whets your appetite to know more, we also provide links to other plain-English articles that you can read if you'd like to expand your knowledge further.

Q: Other web sites let me download software directly from them.
      Why don't you?

A: Software is constantly changing. New versions and bug fixes can be released at any time. And that means the chances are that no matter how well a mirror site is run, it will contain some measure of obsolete software if you download it from anyone other than the manufacturer.

However, the people who make the software are guaranteed to have the latest version (or bug-fix) available on their own web site. They're also extremely unlikely to want to distribute their own software with any viruses or other malware in it, aren't they? And many software manufacturers also provide online support and/or other software products that may interest you on their own sites too.

So for all these reasons, the approach we adopt is to send you directly to the manufacturer for your download rather than carry the software on our own web server. We think this produces a better outcome for everyone.

PS: We pop up all our links in new windows so that our visitors can review several things at once if they want to, not because we're trying to keep you on our own web site. If you're using a tabbed browser (eg: Firefox) these new windows will appear as new tabs, and can be easily closed when you're done.

Q: Other websites let visitors leave comments about software.
      Why don't you?

A: From looking at sites that do this, we've found that while visitor comments are a very nice Web 2.0 idea in theory, most comments in practice are either unhelpful
(eg: "D'oh! My name is Barney Banana - is this California?") and/or untrustworthy
(eg: they're left by vendors hyping their own products and/or trashing their competitors' products under pseudonyms).

We do, however, have an open mind on this issue. So if lots of our visitors ask us for this feature, we'll be happy to introduce it at some point in the future.

Q: How do I get my own software listed?

A: The Free Software store operates on a simple Darwinian principle: survival of the fittest.

We want to show our visitors the six best freeware or shareware products in each category that we cover. So if your software is better than anything we list in one of our categories right now, just email us and tell us about it.

If we agree, we'll remove an existing product that you've thoroughly trounced and insert your own software in its place.

Q: Can I pay you to feature my software?

A: No, you can't. Our reviews are carried out independently of any commercial considerations and they can't be purchased. We know that our visitors rely on us to provide them with impartial advice about what software we genuinely believe is the best to solve a particular problem, and we take that responsibility very seriously.

You can, however, purchase advertising on our site through Google AdWords if you'd like to bring your software to the attention of our visitors.

Q: I've found a mistake. How can I get you to fix it?

A: Easy! Just email us and let us know what the problem is (eg: we've listed a feature inaccurately; we have a broken link etc etc). We try to respond to all emails within two working days.

Q: Can I link to The Free Software Store?

A: Yes, you can. And we appreciate it when you do (there's no more sincere compliment any visitor can pay us!). You can insert a link by adding the following HTML to your web site:

<A HREF="">The Free Software Store</A>

PS:  We don't use buttons or other graphics. Text links are fast, clean and won't slow your own site down.

Q: I have a question about....

A: Again, please email us. If it's a common question we'll extend our FAQs to answer it. And if it's a one-off question, then we'll do our best to answer you directly.


This page last updated: 19-Aug-2008


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