If you have got a new PC with a fresh Windows install that needs applications to actually do stuff like word processing, checking mails, browsing the Internet and watching movies, why not go the open source way and install free applications? Many of the best-in-category applications are open source and available for free.
Here’s a list of free Windows applications that will serve almost all of your basic computing requirements, from word processing to watching movies.
A good antivirus is the first thing that should be installed on a fresh Windows installation. It’s safer to have an antivirus in place before you browse the Web or connect a removable storage device as they are the most common source of virus infection.
AVG Free is one of the most popular free antivirus. It’s pretty effective and keeps itself updated with latest virus definitions. It’s important for your antivirus software to get updates on new viruses so that you remain safe from all the malware and rogue viruses. You can also opt for Bit Defender Free Edition, which also provides good protection against viruses by keeping itself updated.
PS: It’s equally important for security of your PC to update your copy of Windows. Stale version of Windows are more susceptible to viruses and malware. Bad guys and hackers often make use of known security loopholes in Windows to infect your computer or get access to your data.
Typewriters are gone. Now you need a word processor to type and print a letter to your client or boss. To create a presentation, you need another application. And to prepare a simple expense account, there’s spreadsheet. All these applications are part of office suite. Which one to pick? OpenOffice.org is the best free office suite available right now. It also has a drawing application along with a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation applications. OpenOffice.org also allows you to create PDF files from your files and documents. Install it, and you will never miss Microsoft Office.
What do you use for browsing the Internet? Not Internet Explorer, I hope. at least not the obsolete Internet Explore 6 that comes with Windows XP. It’s good for you and those who design websites if you use the latest version of Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome or Safari or Opera. All of them are good, but I particularly like Firefox as its functionality can be extended using the vast repository of addons for Firefox. Google Chrome, which has gained lot of market share since its launch, also supports extensions for adding several desired features to the browser.
Mozilla Thunderbird is an open source email client that enables you to send and receive mails from your desktop. If you use a Gmail account, Thunderbird will will get your account ready with its simple wizard. If you need to have a to-do list or a calendar to keep tab of your appointments, use an appropriate add-on for Thunderbird.
Pidgin is all that you need for staying in touch through various chat services such as Yahoo, Google Talk, Facebook, etc. It makes sense to use just Pidgin for staying in touch with all your friends and contacts on multiple services and accounts, rather than juggling between Facebook page on the browser, Google Talk application and Yahoo Messenger. It also has various plug-ins for extending its functionality.
VLC, or Video LAN Client, is the undisputed leader of media players. This nifty little tool will play just any audio or video file, DVD and music CDs. You won’t have to worry about missing media codecs ever.
7-Zip archive application will allow you to extract as well as create archives (.zip, .tar, .rar, .7z, etc.). What it lacks in interface gets compensated by its heavy-duty features. It will also allow you to add or delete a file from any archive folder.
Like any house or desk, your computer and desktop will also become disarrayed and get covered with dust. CCleaner will remove all the dirt and temporary files from your computer, fix the registry and uninstall applications for you. It’s highly recommended that you run CCleaner from time to time and tidy your PC to improve its performance.
PDF, or portable document format, is a very popular format for sharing documents and books. You will need a PDF reader for reading the files and documents. Though Adobe offers free Acrobat Reader for this purpose, the tool is too clunky and a drain on your PC’s memory. Using light-weight FoxIt PDF Reader makes more sense.
If you own a digital camera or even a camera phone, you should install Google Picasa, an image organization and manipulation tool. You can use it to sort and organize your photos along with minor manipulations such as colour enhancement, cropping and other preset styles. It comes handy for viewing RAW image files from your digital camera. Moreover, use Picasa to upload and share images on Picasa website and blogs.
GIMP is the open source alternative of Adobe Photoshop. Though GIMP falls short in features when compared with Photoshop, it doesn’t make sense to buy the expensive software if you aren’t a professional. GIMP will suffice needs of any personal user and give good results for professional work as well if used to its potential.
Windows PCs are notorious for becoming slow with use. It’s more true if you install and uninstall application too often as it clutters up the computers registry and leaves its remnants on the PC. Using Revo Unistaller to get rid of unwanted applications will help you get away with the mess that a normal uninstallation of the application will create.