T was only a few days ago that I came to ponder an interesting fact: I have never,ever in my life paid for a piece of software. I have never paid for a Web service either. I had some computer games bought for me as a gift while I was a teenager, or even younger than that. I was primary using freeware as a child and I do not think it ended up quite so miserably, despite my habit of relying on free and/or Open Source solutions.
The are a few exceptions to the above statement. Admittedly, I may have bought computers that had Windows pre-installed and thus a licence paid for. Anything commercial that I ever use nowadays, the University pays for (MATLAB which runs on Linux, for example). My Web host pays for cPanel too, I presume. Palm handhelds which I have owned have some programs bundled, but I never purchased any softwere for this platform where so much is already free.
Is it all something to take pride in? I do not believe so, but the observation is an interesting one nonetheless. Frankly, I can never recall pulling out a credit card for software purchase or a paid service on Web. On the Internet, if I ever pull out the CC numbers, it is for groceries, various items (primarily gadgets) and Web hosting bills. Never have I paid for a licence key or a binary file.
Bottom line: expensive proprietary software is not a necessity. That, however, is not what commercial software vendors would have you believe. Freeware and Open Source software are their greatest enemies and, given experience and orientation, they can achieve anything. They also have the merit of being transferable and readily available in abundant numbers.