Monday, November 24, 2008

Windows software

Over the years I have collected lists of useful, cool, and free software for Microsoft Windows. Although I may not always have all of these tools installed, I have most of the tools installed most of the time. I share them here in case you have not heard of some of them before. Please share any you might think I am missing. Remember, they have to be free and for windows

  • I heard from Dvorak about AVG Free, a free anti-virus program that should be adequate for home use.
  • Microsoft offers a collection of Power Toys for Windows XP. Although their usefulness varies, I like the more intelligent task switcher and the desktop manager.
  • Crap Cleaner lives up to its name. During regular use, stuff collects in Windows like plaque on teeth. Crap Cleaner quickly, easily, and simply gets rid of all the build-up.
  • My daughter loves using Skype to talk to her great grandparents across the country. The setup is easy, it works for both PCs and Macs, and even my old computer can handle it.
  • Handbrake rips DVDs and encodes them into other formats. It is useful for getting movies onto your iPod.
  • Speaking of an iPod, you probably want to have iTunes installed. Other services are catching up and/or passing Apple's, but they are still the biggest kid on the block for now.
  • For web browsing I use Google's Chrome. This is mostly because I am a small Google fanboy. Firefox is probably still the better browser, although Chrome has some nice features and a simplistic elegance that is fun.
  • Flickr provides an uploader tool that makes uploading photos to their site very easy.
  • Google pack has a good collection of software, although I must admit that the ones I use the most are imports not made by Google (Skype and Adobe Reader).
  • The Open Disc aims to put a good collection of high quality open source software on a CD. You can see what they put on their disc and download interesting programs individually. I would recommend a few especially.
    • The Gimp is an excellent image editing program aiming to replace Adobe Photoshop.
    • Firefox is the best web browser out there as of writing this entry.
    • Pidgin puts together a bunch of IM clients into one interface making it very convenient to IM using AOL, Yahoo, MSN, and Google all at once.
    • I really like the Thunderbird email client.
    • WinSCP is useful for securely copying files, but I must admit that non-techies probably won't get excited about it.
    • Open Office continues to steadily improve as a free and compatible (for the most part) alternative to Microsoft Office.
    • Since I have not had a working printer for a few years, I rely a lot on PDF Creator. I can "print" to the pdf creator and then move the pdf to where I want to print it.
    • Although it is not the best anti-virus software, Clamwin is free.

  • The Software for Starving Students used to make a good collection of free (not necessarily open source) software. They even had a collection of free software for Apple's OS X. Most of the Windows software shows up somewhere else on my list, which is probably why the project was discontinued and the list is only available on the internet archive.

That seems to pretty much sum it up. Anything I missed? I hope you try these tools out. Some of them may be a bit different than what you are used to, but you can't beat the price. Some of the free software is actually better than their costly counterparts.

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