No-Cost Productivity Software Available For Students

By Joel Randazza
Hyde-Bath Technology Director

Buying a computer is generally just the beginning of our personal computing technology expenses. Adding on hardware and software is the next step, and while this can skyrocket the cost of your equipment, there are solutions out there for students with a zero dollar price tag.

On an advisory note, please keep this quote in mind regarding free software:

If you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product.

Always examine the user agreements that you click on prior to installing any of these products. And beware of any add-on software that is checked by default to install to your machine that you might not want!

Google Docs and Sheets

Google is probably the most popular supplier of no-cost software with their web-browser-based solutions like Google Docs and Sheets. Docs is a free word processor similar to Microsoft Word and Sheets is a no-cost Spreadsheet program similar to Microsoft Excel. Both of these run in a web browser, like Firefox or Chrome. Some people love the simplicity and ease of use while others lament the lack of features.

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft has been offering their full versions of Office 365 for students who attend institutions that hold a Microsoft license agreement, which Hyde does. Hyde students can download and install full Office 365 products like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on their own computers, PCs, or Macs. It is generally the latest version, and currently Office 2016 is available to them.

Microsoft DreamSpark

Hyde is also applying for the Microsoft DreamSpark program. For the budding coder in your family, this includes full versions of Visual Studio and Xaramin. Server 2012, SQL server, Robotics Developer Studio, and many development programs will be available to our students. These are all the full, ad-free versions of Microsoft retail products. When enrollment is complete, we will be alerting the students.


If your student is interested in architecture or CAD, AutoDesk offers quite a few products to verified students. Autodesk is considered to be an industry leader in computer aided design. Download at

Anti-Virus Software

Anti-Virus software is another item that is available at no charge. In fact, starting with Windows 8, it is actually included with the windows operating system and is called Windows Defender. The version by the same name that shipped with Windows 7 is not the same product. Microsoft does offer a free solution for Windows 7 known as Microsoft Security Essentials. I have had good luck with both of these programs. Often it comes down to browsing habits, but that is another subject. Suffice it to say that you generally don’t need to go to Staples and buy antivirus software for your Windows computer anymore. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that you should have windows updates turned on and the built-in Windows firewall as well.

Happy computing!