Software that is available in source-code form is known as open-source software and it is free! Typically with open source software, the code is made available with few restrictions. There is no stringent copyright protection to prevent the copying, distribution or changing of the code. Open source software can be downloaded from or used directly on the web.
There are many examples of open source software available on the web. OpenOffice, for one, is a popular productivity suite application made by Oracle. Google Docs is another that is a web-based word processor, spreadsheet and presentation application. Another, Zoho, includes project management, customer relationship management, web conferencing, a database, group chat and wikis in addition to the typical word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications. Thinkfree is a product includes a unique combination of online, offline and mobile applications. Most of these are all web-based applications and all are easily accessible from the web and easily shared which makes them useful for virtual work groups.
One of the drawbacks of open-source software programs is that they typically do not have the full feature set of a product like Microsoft Office. However, they do offer most of the features an average user would want. Often the files created in one application can be used in another. For example, if using OpenOffice, files from other software packages can easily be read, written and edited although some of the formatting may be lost or changed in the migration process. Similarly, users of other productivity suites can open files created in OpenOffice.
Another drawback to using open source software is that, unlike Microsoft Office and other licensed for-profit software products, there is limited or no formal support. Users of open source software rely on a community of other users and newsgroups across the web their support.