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Try New Software -- Without Installing New Software

A startup firm has come up with a great way to try new open-source software -- without installing anything on your desktop.

A startup firm has come up with a great way to try new open-source software -- without installing anything on your uses an approach that is surprising only because nobody thought of it sooner: cloud-based software evaluation: "Each Open Source software application on click2try goes through our rigorous process to become self-contained, supported and configured to run directly from your users desktop. Through our virtualization technology, theres nothing to download or install. We host everything on our servers and give you or your users who sign up as members on-demand access to the applications chosen from our catalog." The site currently hosts around 60 applications, ranging from software development tools to business productivity suites. The cloud-based approach to hosting applications allows users to try them online, via their desktop Web browsers.

Unregistered users are limited to one-hour tryout sessions; although they can then run the same software again if they wish, they lose any data or settings from the previous session. Completing a free registration allows users to save their settings for up to four hours over a period of seven days.

The site currently offers three subscription plans, priced between $40 and $70 per month. Each plan offers continuous, persistent access to one or more applications, along with bonuses like multi-user access, extra storage for data files, and uptime commitments.

Click2Try is still in its infancy, as the relatively low number of applications available for tryout indicates. As more developers submit their applications, however, this is a service with genuine potential. The ability to evaluate software, without any up-front setup or configuration hassles, could deliver a huge productivity boost for small businesses with limited IT resources -- and no full-time IT staff.

It's not quite a perfect solution. Such a service will not, for example, give users a good idea of how an application runs on a particular hardware configuration or whether it plays well with other software. But as a tool for performing first-cut software tryouts, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

If you business is hunting for open-source software alternatives, keep a close eye on Click2Try. This is definitely an idea whose time has come.

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