back to article Ten free apps to install on every new PC

You've just taken delivery of a new PC, and you're looking for some good apps to run on it. You'll no doubt have a few in mind, but before reaching for your wallet, check out these ten essentials, all of which we think you'll find darn useful - and they won't cost you a penny. RH Numbers OpenOffice 3.2 Many new PCs come …


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  1. Greg J Preece

    A few extras

    Most of this list is on my own list, but here are a few extras to consider.

    Eraser - an absolute must, allows for secure deletion of files individually, or via the recycle bin.

    RegCompact.NET 2.0 -Speeds up registry-intensive control panel dialogs such as Add/Remove Programs

    PowerMenu - Adds functions like "Always on top" and opacity to standard Windows. Even works in Win7.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    iTunes, WTF??

    <-- for stinking up your list with that Jobsian PoS.

    (Apart from that it's a pretty good selection of freeware. But you really should have had Picasa in there somewhere.)

    1. Mr Brush
      Thumb Up


      +1 iTunes the associated crap of Quicktime and the Bonjour 'service' that merrily trashes your DNS should be classed as malware.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Bonjour Rocks

        Actually not sure what problems you've had with Bonjour but it's saved my bacon before. Windows doesn't always find everything on the network (for whatever reason) and UPnP often doesn't work right under XP. I've found installing Bonjour usually allows me to find printers and other computers that the stupid built in network scan in Windows doesn't find. Yes even inside domain controlled networks.

        1. Mr Brush

          Bonjour and mDNS

          Good tip, one to stash away for future troubeshooting.

          However, I've experieced Bonjour (and another random mDNS derivative that came with an Olivetti WiFi printer) completely cutting Windows 7 off from the Internet until the mDNS/Bonjour service was stopped. Also, oon another occasion (when it sneaked in on the back of an Adobe product, imagine that!) it was nice enough to change my default gateway to, providing me an hour of hair pulling diagnostic fun. Not to mention the mangled service name string that stops you from realising the bloody thing is there in the first place.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Indeed x2

      Some other suggestions:



      Numerous Windows Powertoys

  3. Spoonguard
    Black Helicopters

    Why bother installing?

    Half of these applications don't need to be installed, they can be used portably. see

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Not a bad list, including a couple I wasn't aware of.

    However, I'd definitely replace Pidgin with Digsby. Pidgin is still buggy and unstable, Digsby seems less so, has better features, and the UI is far more intuitive.

    1. Dapprman


      I use Trillian instead, normally been fine for me, but I do partially regret upgrading to the latest version (where you now have to register online with them).

    2. The BigYin

      No voice

      That it Pidgin's greatest failing, it just doesn't do voice. Whilst the SIPE (for Office Communicator) plug-in works, it can't give you any voice support. AFAIK Digsby doesn't support voice either, so there is no alternative to MS Office Communicator.

      Am I wrong? Please tell me I am wrong. I cannot stand MS OffComm.

    3. Bod


      +1 for Digsby. Problem with Pidgin is I still feel it lacks the right experience under Windows and often I find a new update will introduce a stability issue, or there's a change to a protocol that just isn't fixed as fast as the Digsby guys will fix it. Digsby also adds checking your email accounts, twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc.

      Trillian - commercial, and the "free" version lacks too much. Found it a bit bloated last time I used it.

      But forget all that. I don't use PCs for IM now, I use my mobile, but then IM is so 5 years ago. It's all twitter & facebook now.

  5. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Another goodie: Fences, from Stardock

    If you have a large desktop with a bit too much on it, there are two ways of dealing with, create a heap of folders or install "fences". Users old enough to remember Windows 3.11 may find the idea remarkably familiar. - worth a look.

    One caveat: if your desktop is suddenly completely blank, you have accidentally double-clicked it - Fences has a "hide" function which is by default enabled..

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Dragon Handbook

    Hey - Kudos on having a pic of the manual of a really great home computer as an example pdf for your Foxit recommendation.

    Now I've got to go off in a reverie of nostalgia - 1982 and the home computer boom. A Dragon 32, my first computer, how I miss it.

    1. Martin Milan

      From what I remember...

      The manual was one of the best introductions to BASIC programming I ever read.

      My father and I spent months deciphering the hidden joys within...

      1. Jim 59
        Thumb Up


        Roger that. Great computer, great manual. I remember sitting cross-legged on the lounge floor, learning to program on the big family TV, dreaming of having a monitor. A golden age in some ways.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Add me to the Dragon lovers

      many a day I spent thumbing through that exact manual, wrestling with the vagaries of FOR... NEXT loops and the hours of entertainment that were ASCII animation, then getting supremely pissed off with my mum because she switched it off before I'd had a chance to save the 2000 lines of code onto a C90. Great days.

  7. The Original Ash

    One free OS to install on every new PC

    Look out; Thar be trolls!

  8. MarkOne


    Shocked that you didn't bother to mention

    You can install most of these apps, in one single go, without the fear of missing "install Yahoo Toolbar?" prompts...

    I would also question why any sane person that's locked into Itunes would want that horrid crap when something like MediaMonkey is SO much better...

      Thumb Up


      Great recommendation - I'd never heard of it.

      A shame you have to pay (monthly) for the offline installer (would be handy to have on a USB drive) but otherwise brilliant.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Spybot search and destroy and Smart defrag? Personally I prefer advanced system care to CCleaner, but it';s horses for courses. Good article though, and point well taken.

    1. It'sa Mea... Mario

      Spybot S&D... a glaring omission IMHO, regardless of that microsoft thingy..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I gave up on Spybot S&D years ago

        When all it every found were cookies - oooh, evil cookies!

        I must be using the wrong internet.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    OK but...

    How about Winamp? CdBurnerXP? GIMP? DaemonTools? VmWare Player?

    1. The BigYin

      Screw VMWare Player

      Get Oracle's VirtualBox.

    2. The Original Ash
      Thumb Up


      Foobar2000 over Winamp any day of the week! Winamp is bloated crud next to it.

      Seriously, give it a go. 3MB download... It had finished before I'd had chance to load the Winamp website :p

    3. sadfasdf
      Thumb Up

      Better choice: Paint.NET and ImgBurn

      CDBurnerXP has very bad - slow and crappy - burning SDK inside. Use ImgBurn instead.

      GIMP? On Windows? Paint.NET is much more better, guys.

  11. mego

    Open Office? iTunes?

    Saw these and just thought OH JEBUS PLEASE NO. And what the hell.. Microsoft Security Essentials? That's like trusting your pet bulldog to look after your lunch!

    Other than that though.. spot on.

  12. Petey
    Jobs Horns


    I cannot BELIEVE you've put that on the top ten list of free stuff. Nothing associated with iTunes is remotely free. Sometimes spending €30 on a lifetime licence of a high-class music manager like Mediamonkey is FAR more beneficial than paying homage to Jobs. Free my arse.

  13. Peter Hewitt
    Gates Halo

    Microsoft Security Essentials

    An excellent program, I agree. however since when have its updates needed to be manually applied? Mine come down automatically and through windows update.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    They didn't include any decent browser?

  15. JamesW

    great but...

    iTunes ?

    I know a large number of people that swear its never going near there computer ever, doesn't sound like a good choice to me.

  16. Phil 57
    Thumb Up


    I would add Fortinet's FortiClient to the list. It is free (as in beer) and comes with a registry watcher, VPN client, spam and web filtering.. amazing.

    Freely downloadable from

    Not affiliated with Fortinet but I do love their products.

  17. Dale Strickland-Clark

    You forgot the best one

    On every new PC, I always install Linux. Then most of the rest of this list is either included or not required.

    1. Andrew_F


      Linux is not an app, and installing it on a newly bought PC may well void your warranty (as was pointed out to me last time I bought a PC).

      1. The Original Ash


        You bought a PC from a company which invalidates the warranty based on the *software* you install?

        Which company is this? I want to make sure I never, ever buy from them.

        1. Andrew_F

          You think I would choose a warranty like that?

          PC World, which I resorted to when I needed to buy from the high street (and had failed to find a 10" linux netbook online). I imagine the other high-street retailers are the same.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You sent it in *with* the HDD?

        PCW - on the few occasions that I've been forced to deal with them - never knew the machines had Linux on, because they never got the hard drives.

        My argument was simply "why the sweet Christ do you need the hard drive? The screen's broken!"

    2. Chemist

      Re : You forgot the best one

      Don't know why you were downvoted. It was about free PC software and Linux/BSDs are by far the best free software you can get esp. if you want lots of free applications.

      I don't use anything else and can do everything I need.

      Someone mentioned a free defragger - what's a defragger ?

  18. Bo Pedersen
    Thumb Up

    hang on

    System Protection, what about AVG/Avast etc?

    and for image editing with extremely powerful tools, you only have to overcome your fear of typing in "those" words into google and grab GIMP!

    it is good to inform of free apps but there is a much bigger choice, you could possibly have done a list for each category.

  19. Sartori
    Thumb Up


    Some good ones on there i didn't know about - FastStone Image Viewer and Karen's Replicator, thanks for those. I wouldn't install iTunes personally on anyone's PC but i'm sure plenty of people would.

  20. Citizen Kaned


    sorry, all cred lost now. this is the biggest POS ive ever used. seriously, its got so many issues its untrue. its only good on a mac. ive seen less harmful viruses than this shit.

    1. Dapprman

      I have it on my PC

      But seriously hate it - I agree it's a large POS on this platform and the only reason I keep it on is because it's the only way for me to sync my iPod Shuffle (post a reply here if you know of a decent alternative I can use).

      1. Geoffrey W

        Media monkey

        "(post a reply here if you know of a decent alternative I can use)."

        MediaMonkey worked fine with our iPod before we dumped it for a Sony

        And its free, though for auto conversion of media (say for Flac to mp3) before synch you need to purchase it. You can still manually convert stuff. Oh, it wont convert to mp3 until you buy it, but it does synch the iPod, and its much less intrusive and crap laden.

      2. DannyAston


        SharePod for your iPod

    2. Mad Hacker

      Really? The biggest POS you've ever used?

      You've obviously never used MS SourceSafe then.

  21. PrivateCitizen
    Thumb Up

    I concur

    Internet lists are always subjective and people can argue for centuries as to why [insert favourite app] wasnt on the list but on the whole this seems good to me.

    There are others I would like to see on the list (Erase, 7Zip for example) but then you decided you would pick 10 and ten it is.

    Well done.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Thank you, El Reg

    Very timely that, especially the Microsoft virus scan which comes just as McAfee has stopped supporting my aged package (hardly surprising, it's a decade old!).

    I do take issue with iTunes, though. Functionality it may have, but it also has a Mac-oriented interface that appears clunky on the PC, it's buggy, it's slow, it's a memory hog and has a penchant for re-organising your music folders unless you have the presence to mind to tell it NOT to (beforehand). I won't let it near my PC and have encouraged all my friends to use WinAmp with the ml_ipod plugin. Much neater.

  23. Wang N Staines


    Don't forget to buy the iHardware to go with it.

  24. Whitter
    Thumb Up

    Good list

    I might have used Paint .Net as a graphics editor and a warning on iTunes that you only do a standard install (as 99.9% no doubt do) else you'll soon be in a whole heap of pain.

  25. Snafu 2


    The latest version of Foxit is 3.21

  26. M7S
    Thumb Up

    Thank you

    This kind of thing is useful, IIRC you've done a few other categories as well.

  27. robin penny

    Not iTunes.. Want to slow your new PC down?

    I prefer to take iTunes off as it's so bloated and wouldn't have it near my PCs, but then I'm not really a consumer of this sort of media. Surely there is a more resource friendly app out there... Any suggestions?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Jaangle (

    2. Britt Johnston

      iTunes etc. as organizers, not sellers

      The article is clear that iTunes' strength is in searching a world outside for media.

      ITunes has consequently lost focus as as a media player for my existing files, and is no longer good at this, so I stopped using my Apple MP3 player and iTunes.

      You could consider looking at Windows media player, especially because iTunes synchronises with it to some extent. I'd also like other suggestions for this. I used to use Realplayer as well, it also got wiped about 4 years ago for similar loss of focus.

      Thanks for the good summary.

  28. Jonathan White


    No Picasa? Seriously?

  29. Spotfist

    tsk, tsk, tsk

    VLC???? Media player classic is faaaaaar better!

    1. Dapprman
      Thumb Down

      Too many rose tinted glasses over VLC

      It's probably because people still see VLC as the video darling of the free software brigade. Little do they know the politics behind it (like VLC's creators trying to get video formats changed to suit their whims, resulting in odd playback issues with certain containers), nor the fact it's not the most reliable piece of software in the world.

      I do use it for some things, but personally if you're using it for codec support then you'd be a lot better off ditching it and going for the CCCP codec pack, which even comes with Media Player Classic in case you've got a big bugbear against the present MS offerings.

      1. The Original Ash

        Rose tinted glasses, or good user experience?

        I've deployed VLC across three schools that I've worked for to replace bundled DVD / media players, and I've received not one complaint. It loads fast, plays everything you throw at it, and is easy enough for the less IT literate teachers (typically the ICT teachers) to use.

        MPC may be great, but saying that VLC isn't will win you no friends.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: VLC

        Too true. A big "plus one" for CCCP here as the right approach to doing away with codec issues permanently.

  30. amlendu kumar

    Itunes --> Foobar

    I saw foobar missing and oh no Spotify is not free anymore but I am the lucky earlybirds.

    Foobar = Low CPU , excellent support for most audio formats including Flac and can be customised till cows come home.

  31. Mick Stranahan
    Thumb Up

    Excellent round up

    Karen's Replicator is very welcome news as is all the free guff in iTunes U. Faststone rocks, it's very powerfull for something so small and light. I have it set as the default image opener on my PC.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    iTunes? Surely some mistake

    iTunes = RealPlayer for the 2000's

    It's not free software, it's malware.

  33. Dave Wintle

    As above

    iTunes, poor choice. Why would you want that on the list.

    @ Bo Pedersen AVG? Are you serious? A couple of years ago maybe! Avast! wouldn't be so bad if it didn't self promote so much.

    Security Essentials will likely be built around the excellent old product by Giant which Microsoft acquired, gets my vote.

    1. alistair millington
      Jobs Horns

      Great article. But Security essentials??? Itunes????

      Anything Microsoft acquired usually gets downgraded by them, like the great malware manufacturer they bought and windows defender then downgrade the threat level of the malware to be "Okay." It might have been great when Giant ran it, but as with all things M$ it gets put through the M$ logic mill which usually spits out crap, like home server, Vista and windows mobile, windows media player, IE8.

      Personally as the M$ software is written so badly anything that protects that will be equally as badly written because it is the same culture, the same developers writing it. So I always prefer someone outside of the M$ 'logic mill' to create software to help me protect M$ software. Fresh pair of eyes can always see the problems so to speak.

      And itunes? The dictionary definition of Malware should either say, Itunes, or MSN as the two great pieces of software that will kill and drain your PC of all it's life and never truly goes away.

  34. Miek

    iTunes on the wrong list

    iTunes is a stinky pile of pooo, talk about resource hungry.

    Flame away YOU ARE wrong.

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. I didn't do IT.

      Then it doesn't "Just Work"

      If it sits there and waits for the tea to be ready before responding to your clicks and searches like it has to make reservations to Siberia - just in case your file is there - then it doesn't "Just Work".

      Bloated + Resource Hungry + Normal wage earner's computer = FAIL.

      What is the point of the brilliance of the dawn if you are not alllowed to open the curtains to see it?

  36. ChrisW
    Thumb Down


    Not sure about the installing part, but that looks like a list of the top 10 apps to be uninstalled when someone complains their PC is running like a dog.

  37. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    There's a reason for iTunes

    It may be a deeply annoying piece of software, and if you don't watch it you'll soon have Safari, Bonjour, and goodness knows what other Appleware all over your computer. But, it does give you easy access to lots of free podcasty goodness on iTunes, and also a pretty good music catalogue.

    I had to find 7 songs for a recent Golden Wedding, including 2 from Jimmy Young (horror!), and some obscure Pat Boone film soundrack. I had to do quite a lot of searching, as they didn't know the names - but once I had titles they were all on iTunes. I'm still not sure if that's a good or a bad thing...

    I was quite impressed, as I struggled to find them on other interweb sites. But perhaps my judgement is still impaired by the half hour of Jimmy Young shit I had to listen to in order to find which bloody song 'is called something about roundabouts'... *shudders*

  38. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    On my list,

    Firefox, Opera, AutoHotkey (Windows scripting and automation and text-triggered macros), 7-Zip, MyDefrag - and I use Adobe Reader: it's the one that most people write for.

  39. Danny 14

    dont forget

    Paint.NET, Notepad++, 7ZIP, Firefox, Comodo Firewall?

    And WTF with iTunes. Id rather boil my scrotum than use itunes.

    1. mego

      RE: dont forget

      >>Paint.NET, Notepad++, 7ZIP, Firefox, Comodo Firewall?<<

      +1 to these apps.. world-class stuff for nothing!

      >>And WTF with iTunes. Id rather boil my scrotum than use itunes.<<

      See keyboard.. haha

    2. Anonymous Coward

      damnnnit,,, not again....

      I only just got my new keyboard from last time it got a java lava soaking,,,

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Hot water is all ready

      Boil away!

  40. Matt 23


    You forgot AUSlogic disk defrag. Does the same job windows does in about 1/10 the time!

  41. Anonymous Coward

    iTunes? Are you nuts...

    It's the biggest load of bloated garbage ever created. Only an iTard locked into it with all his iProducts would ever use it voluntarily.

    Use MediaMonkey or Foobar, or even Windows WMP11 instead and save yourself the gried of forever suffering the endless stream of new appleware that iTunes opens the door to.

    1. morphoyle


      iTunes is a pig! If you have an ipod or iwhatever, there are other products you can use to add or remove files from it, like floola.

  42. Anonymous Coward


    "Apple's iTunes has to be on the list of free applications any new PC needs simply because of the wealth of media content it makes available"

    this is a joke, right ?

  43. spegru

    70% - could do better

    Itunes, security essentials,

    Should have included:

    1. Non MSFT Browsers: Thunderbird. Opera

    2. Email client: Thunderbird

    3. Last but by no means least in these days of 'emormo' hard discs

    Setup disk for a dual booting partition with Linux Mint (due to all the stuff being built in). Most of the above available for that too

  44. Neil Kay
    Boffin in..

    Nice list, but some (at least one) are "Free" as in 'Free for home and personal use only' eg: Karen's Replicator - from her site: "Karen's Power Tools programs are free for personal, non-commercial use. But if you'd like to use the programs at work, you need a paid license."

    Also check out (Google is your friend):

    deltacopy and grsync: Packaged, GUI-driven versions of rsync that can backup to local and remote locations via the tubes.

    iReport: Crystal Reports (ish) without the dosh

    Kompozer is a half-decent GUI HTML editor

    7zip for most of your compressing and decompressing needs

    Inkscape - the poor (but free) long-lost-cousin of Corel Draw

    Dia - likewise for Visio

    PDFCreator - Do you need a description?

    Winsplit revolution - Windows desktop organiser

  45. Dick Emery


    Itunes? Meh!

    Jaangle does not appear to have an option to switch output source. Useless for those with more than one soundcard. I would add QTLite and RealAlt to that list plus of course a decent codec like ffdshow (Manually setup of course for the best results) and Matroska Splitter. Still VLC or MPC Home Cinema should do the job if you are too lazy to bother with it. Also don't forget things like Visipics for sorting and deleting duplicate images. I prefer XNView over Faststone purely for speed and ease of use. But Faststone has more options (Like dual monitor support).

  46. I_am_Chris

    Watno Firefox...?


    That's always my no. 1 install. In fact, why no browser at all? Any of Chrome, Safari, Opera or Firefox is preferable to IE.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Open Office and iTunes definitely off the list

    Of the 5 PCs I have at home, 3 have copies of MS Office on them (all work provided), and 2 I put Open Office on. I'm on the verge of removing Open Office and ponying up for MS Office on the remaining 2 machines. Why? I'm fed up of 2 things. One is constantly dealing with formatting differences in documents from work (or elsewhere) loaded into Open Office. The second, I'm fed up with complaints from my SO about her work documents not working as expected in Open Office - especially things like track changes etc. Certainly, the article's comment, "And it's fully compatible with its namesake too, able to open and save Microsoft Office documents" is definitely not true. It is not fully compatible and a lot of the more complex features just don't work properly. Furthermore, the spreadsheet offering is an order of magnitude worse than MS Office.

    iTunes is a viral piece of crap. I actively hunt it out on any machine I come in contact with and de-install it. I don't want viral installs of other Apple CrapWare just because Saint Jobs thinks I might want to use those items. I also hate the resource hogging and poor user interface. Also, despite that piece of crap turning up on a number of my machines, I've never actually found a use for it. All my internet radio and media playback comes through my SqueezeServer (and network of SqueezeBoxes throughout the house). Incidentally, for those who think I'm a Windows Fanbois, my SqueezeServer runs from a Linux server - as do all my always on services.

    I would add a couple of items to the list, although reluctantly. The first is Picasa. I use it as my image viewer on every machine bar one (which has PhotoShop on it for the serious photography). Picasa is a great image viewing piece of software, and also good for managing uploads and e-mails, and doing batch conversions of pictures if you can't be arsed to fire up PhotoShop.

    The second, even more reluctantly added, is FireFox. I started using FF with version 1, and initially I swapped from IE simply because of rendering speed. The tabbed browsing, download window and search as you type are the features I liked the most after rendering speed. Unfortunately, stability, and the way it seems to routinely wreck your profile during upgrades, has made me seriously consider going back to IE. In fact, the only reason I'm not back on IE at the moment is because of the infuriating way that IE places some navigation buttons on each side of the address bar, and won't let you customise them. If they fixed that bug, and also had a decent download window and decent search as you type, I would now be using IE again.

    1. C Yates

      Mate... it's FREE! =P

      Of course Openoffice isn't gonna be 100% compatible with MS Office, it's fairly close (and doesn't have all those annoying GUI changes) and it's FREE! That's the whole point of the article - not everyone can afford to fork out money like that! (Mr average won't own 5PCs.)

      I do agree with the points on iTunes and Firefox though, but please stay off the blue smarties =P

      1. mego
        Thumb Down

        Re: Mate... it's FREE! =P

        So's a bullet-shaped hole in the head courtesy of your nearest mugger; but I don't see anyone queuing up for one.

        Point is, it's badly designed, poorly supported, and barely able to work with it's own format - let alone microsoft's, which sad to say seems to be the defacto for office and college. I'm as rabidly against MS as any other self-respecting IT professional, but even I have to admit that MS Office .. well .. works (yeah excuse the pun).

    2. The Unexpected Bill and iTunes certainly does have its faults. But one must keep firmly in mind that it *will* get better and gain traction as it does so. I'm adminstrating a herd of computers in a corporate environment, and OpenOffice is taking over for a lot of machines. It has been running on the PCs exclusively for a while now.

      I've never been particularly fond of "track changes" functionality, I find all of the implementations clunky. And if you think does it badly, clearly you have not tried using Microsoft's own office suite for the Mac! Enabling the tracking of changes on Office:Mac is asking for it--and ye shall most definitely receive! Actually, OpenOffice (or rather, NeoOffice) is a pillar of stability compared to Office for Mac. (Note that I've never run Office 2008 for Mac, nor do I intend to.)

      The spreadsheeting function could be improved. It falls down when you get into doing "deep stuff" with formulas and charts. Yet I'm sure it will be.

      It's good enough that the users can get along well with it in a production environment. OOo really does work 99%* of the time in an Office-centric world. One can't argue with the price. One also can't argue with the fact that doesn't have those *infuriating* ribbons in its UI.

      iTunes...well, I get along with it. It's certainly more bloated than it ought to be, there can be no doubt. One does have to watch for the delivery of "helpful" Apple software via the software updater. But it'll do, and it's what most people are familiar with.

      I administer a lot of Firefox installations running on different platforms in differing situations, with both clued and clueless users. Profile corruptions are pretty rare on this end--only one has ever taken place between when we started using Firefox (1.5.x) and now (3.6). If you're having problems with a Firefox profile becoming corrupt, I'd take the Mozilla Organization at their word and start questioning your add-ons and extensions. Failing that, I'd take a long, hard look at your computer to be sure it's as reliable as you think it is. I just don't think these happen without a solid reason...

      * not a scientific figure, yet it still serves my point. Depending upon this figure in precision applications may cause telemarketing, headaches, nausea, printer fires, spontaneous computer explosion and other fun stuff to happen. Effects seen were similar to those using a placebo office suite.

    3. DannyAston


      MS office offers great value for money when you think about the sheer time you spend using it!!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Didn't I read that OOo's difficulties with MS formats

      is a result of Office not actually bothering to follow them properly in the first place?

  48. QwertyJuan


    VLC over MPCHC??

    Pidgen over Digsby??

    Stone something or other photoviewer over Picasa 3??

    I also prefer SumatraPDF over Foxit... but that is personal preference.

    The other three?? Not just personal preference but only common sense.... VLC, Pidgen and Stonesomethingorother are just plain bad programs and outclasses by these counterparts.

  49. petur

    missing stuff

    - picasa (photo management)

    - irfanview (best image viewer/convertor)

    - HxD (hex/disk editor)

    - Notepad++ (editor)

    - gtalk

    and stuff I'll never install:

    - skype (sorry, SIP is the standard, not this closed source crap)

    - itunes9 (bloatware)

    - the suggested backup tool (Karen whatever): written in VB, no wonder is wasn't fluid!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iTunes? *shudder*

    You slag off Acrobat reader for being bloaty, and then include iTunes! Good grief man! I don't care how many other apps it lets you find in the "store" it's a resource munching, memory leaking pile of doodoo.

    How you could include iTunes and not Firefox is beyond me.

    My list would have a lot of yours, but would include Firefox, Filezilla, Vuze and Thunderbird.

    For the power MP3 users out there, may I recommend MP3tag... It's very useful for those MP3 players/phones etc (and iTunes) that continually make a mess of the ID3 track details. Plus it's geek friendly so you can even tell it how to extract the track number, title and artist from the filename if it's already there.

  51. richjones

    More, and better, free apps

    Try this site for some amazing freeware. I've only scratched the surface but The KM Player is a standout.

  52. Jerome 0

    Nine great apps!

    The first three apps I install on a fresh PC: Firefox, Thunderbird and Truecrypt. Web, email and file security sorted in minutes. The rest of the list is great, with the obvious exception of iTunes.

  53. Dave H 2
    Thumb Up

    A couple more...

    "Partition Wizard Home Edition" & "Macrium Reflect Free Edition" saved my bacon last week. All 3 partitions from my primary drive just disappeared after a reboot. Because I had a recent system image, made with Reflect, I just pasted that onto an old drive and then used Partition Wizard to get the partitions back on my main drive. I was up and running again in less than 30 minutes. I'd highly recommend both.

    Oh, and although I like CCleaner, it's on my list of possible culprits, as I'd allowed it to "Wipe Free Space", not long before the parititions disappeared!

  54. Michael Neumann


    I hate Adobe Reader, but unfortunately Foxit and the other free replacements will NOT handle every PDF out there. Some forms, important to me, won't take text entry.

    Glad you guys put in Karen's Replicator.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Me too

    Just to agree with what has been said earlier. iTunes is going nowhere near my computer.

    Installed it once. Wouldn't play my FLAC files and ran all sorts of nonsense in the background.

    Foobar2000 FTW.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    My Essential Additions:


    Notepad++ (or PSPad)



  57. Efros
    Thumb Up

    ICE Mirror

    Nice little backup utility, can be run from the command line to create scheduled disk mirrors.

  58. Tim Jenkins

    A PDF Creator

    CutePDF works for me...

  59. MJI Silver badge


    Excellent burning software - this has to be installed

  60. andy gibson

    Another iTunes slater

    Winamp FTW.

    Oh and if you're running an old PC I can highly recommend REGISTRY LIFE my MyDefag to speed things up.

    Things must be bad on the free protection software front if Microsoft is recommended. What happened to AVG and Antivir? I prefer to buy my AV software - NOD32 all the way.

  61. Anonymous Coward

    and browser

    opera or firefox. you can make room in the top 10 by delisting itunes since what it offers is available elsewhere

  62. Eponymous Cowherd

    Here's some for graphics geeks....




  63. AlexV

    Alternative to Foxit

    I prefer Sumatra PDF to Foxit. It's even smaller and lighter, but best of all, doesn't have irritating colourful upsell advertising in the top right corner.

    1. Dan Herd
      Thumb Up


      This is a terrific app. It loads in no time at all and has handled every PDF I've ever needed to view and print.

      Best of all, it doesn't try and unnecessarily ingratiate itself into my browser.

  64. tony72

    Me too

    Okay, so I don't think you need anyone else guffawing at the inclusion of iTunes on your list, or the lack of Firefox/Chrome/Opera, so I'll just snigger under my breath. Good list otherwise. Not sure if I would include CCleaner on a civilians' PC though, registry cleaners can take a slightly corrupted registry and leave it completely FUBAR.

  65. LINCARD1000

    No love for Irfanview?

    While no GIMP replacement, Irfanview is a very handy "Swiss Army Pocketknife" of an application primarily for image viewing and simple edits. Also ties into TWAIN devices and the like which can be good for quick'n'dirty scanning jobs and the like.

    Small footprint and download size as well. Highly recommended.

    Some other interesting suggestions in the list as well - will definitely have to check them out :-)

  66. Dylan Brandes
    IT Angle

    These should have been in the list. Foorbar, Picasa, AVG, and Miranda IM

    As others have stated ... quite simply what the hell is ITunes doing in there remove it now!! Instead what about foobar2000 now that is excellent! it was a bit buggy when it was first released but its come along way since then and now i consider it the best music player/library tool out there.

    Picasa for image viewing you can also sync your albums online for people to see.

    And AVG, you have to have some sort of AV in the list this is the pick of the freebies to be honest.

    I would also replace Pidgin with Miranda IM which is simple, clean and supports all the main social and IM networks such as Facebook, MSN, Skype, and Google Talk.

    Done. :D

    1. TeeCee Gold badge


      If that's "the pick of the freebies" the free software business is in serious poo.

      Tried it fairly recently. More false positives than a Chinese battery factory and a terribly short memory for things like "no, I don't want to upgrade to the paid version".

      +1 for MS Security Essentials* as the best freebie out there in this area at the moment.

      *Yes, the world has officially gone mad.

      1. Nexox Enigma

        they weren't lieing about 'essential'

        """+1 for MS Security Essentials* as the best freebie out there in this area at the moment.

        *Yes, the world has officially gone mad."""

        I agree. I don't really do much with the Windows myself, but when I fix someone's computer after it's been thrashed by viruses delivered via IE from who knows what kind of sketchy porn sites, chances are the MS product is better than A) Nothing, B) Whatever ancient crap they have a license for, and C) The other free virus scanners. Then I got ahead and neuter IE via that policy deal they have, so it can just connect to get updates.

        And I set them up with something other than iTunes to sync with their iHardwares. Apart from the obvious issues it has, it comes with Bonjour, which tends to broadcast personal information all over the place, rather un-safe for unencrypted wifi hotspots and the like. Unless you want people to know your name and the model(s) of printer(s) you use, in addition to potentially your email address, phone number, etc. I've definitely seen MDNS packets in wireshark that were leaking lists of people's contacts and email subjects some how, so I don't trust it one bit.

  67. Dazed and Confused


    Is by far the most useful app available for Windows.

    Surely iTunes is a candidate for any list of the worlds worst ever software.

    1. ElNumbre
      IT Angle


      PuTTY is by far and away MY most useful utility for any new Winblows machine, BUT 97%* of computer users have no use for connecting to SSH/Telnet or Serial Port terminals. Chances are, if they need it, they'll find it. WinSCP I would argue is more useful for many, but how many people do file transfers with SCP/SFTP services?

      But it should be top of the list for any IT engineer's kit-list

      *Statistic made up for artistic purposes.

  68. Shane 8

    My Top Apps

    Firefox (with NoScript)






    VMware Player + Console

    **M$ Office 2007 (just because i can)




    i dont like OO so i would always choose M$ office.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Want to love Open Office

    I want Open Office to work I really do. I love the idea and I hate MS Office. But I try every major release and within two days due to formatting issue between it and my fellow MS Office users I always have to uninstall it.

    1. Bod

      OO and formatting

      Never seem to have formatting problems myself. I even exchange back and forth a rather complicated spreadsheet my accountants uses which has complex formula, macros, lots of formatting including conditional formatting. No problems.

    2. The Flying Dutchman

      OpenOffice and formatting

      I have heard, and investigated, such laments a number of times.

      Turns out, that in most if not all cases, the cause of the mess is crappy formatting in the original Word doc.

      Such as:

      * Using spaces for indents;

      * Repeatedly pressing the enter key (in other words, inserting empty paragraphs) to space paragraphs, or even

      * Inserting a series of such empty paragraphs to get a page break, and last but not least

      * Using fancy typefaces that may not be installed on the recipient's machine and therefore will be substituted by a default typeface, which of course may have different metrics.

      A document formatted in this manner is an accident waiting to happen.

      A correctly formatted document will retain proper formatting when exchanged between OO and MSO, and only in rare cases some fiddling might be required. Hint: there might be subtle differences in how MSO and OO handle "widows" and "orphans".

      Bottom line: If you want your formatting to stick, not only between OO and MSO but also between different versions of MSO, *learn* *proper* *formatting*.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    By qfx software.

    Well worthy piece of freeware.



    ITUNES??? And Skype????

    Please can have some of the drugs you're taking???

  71. Richard Lloyd

    'Obvious' free software not mentioned

    Quite surprised that none of these are mentioned:



    Daemon Tools


    Firefox (or Opera or Google Chrome)

    GIMP (or GIMPshop or Paint.NET or Inkscape)

    Google Earth





    uTorrent (or Vuze if you've got a fast machine)

  72. John Tserkezis

    @Open Office and iTunes definitely off the list #

    "One is constantly dealing with formatting differences in documents from work (or elsewhere) loaded into Open Office"

    Oh, I'm sorry, Microsoft doesn't do this?

    Try dealing with Microsoft's very own Rich Text Format across different versions of Word.

    No two versions look alike.

    Had this problem with an RTF file created with an (at that time) unknown version of word. Ironically, with the absence of the "correct" version of Word, I had most luck with reproducing the correct formatting with OO and exporting to PDF format.

    I mean, if microsoft can't get it right, what hope in hell does anyone else have?

  73. Anonymous Coward

    Epic Fail....


    ...and for failing to big up Ninite - quite simply the best tool for freetards and IT folk who are constantly at the beck and call of every obscure relative and neighbour....saves me hours.

    1. DrXym

      iTunes buggy, bloaty

      One of the few Mac apps I bought was called SoundJam. It was very cool for its time allowing tunes to be ripped from CD with a few clicks. The authors must have been hired by Apple because iTunes was clearly SoundJam with a new UI except now it was free. It started off being a very useful application but over time it's become bloated and buggy. On Windows, the UI is an absolute disaster zone and slow as hell.

      I used to think that the UI was a slug because of the OS X like UI, but Songbird copies the iTunes look and feel and is much more responsive. So now I don't know what to think except the app is terrible. If you don't own an iPod / iPhone I really don't see any reason to inflict this crap on your PC. If you need an iTunes like experience, choose SongBird, otherwise even the default Windows Media Player is a better choice these days.

  74. TeeCee Gold badge

    Some more.

    Imgburn - Best freebie for doing stuff with optical discs.

    Alex Feinman's ISO recorder - ISO handling plugin for the inbuilt Win disc tools. Sometimes you just need simplicity and its "always there when you need it" approach just makes any machine without it feel unfinished.

    Snippy - Since SnagIT went pay, the best I've found. Lightweight, simple to use and the only addon I have autostarting. Vista and Se7en users get the clipping tool, so this one's for XP types.

    uTorrent - Best there is for those, er, "Linux distribution" downloads.

  75. Caff

    avg - no way

    AVG was pretty good two years ago but ditched it recently for MS security.. suprisingly good. AVG free seems to have become worse and worse recently. My main problem was that its plugins for FF and IE kept crashing win7pro64.. Had a look at AVG forums and there was plenty of people with similar issues so I promptly ditched it. No issues since.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Erm, you mean

      you never do a custom install ? I always spend one or two minutes in order to trim off all the crap in the default install for each and every piece of software that goes into my C:\Program Files.

  76. Dick Emery


    Someone suggested RegCompact. I have just spent over an hour repairing the damage it did as it completely hosed my Win7 64 system. Win7 repair did not work, System Restore refused to restore anything saying to remove system protection first (I could not) and the ONLY way I got back to where I was before it killed my system was to restore the backup registry HIV's from C:\Windows\System32\Config


  77. Watashi

    My Pick

    Windows Live (I have 2 hotmail accounts)



    Red Kawa (video convertor for mobile phones)



    Xplorer2 Lite


    System Control Windows Gadget


  78. Herer

    w t f

    Seriously, iTunes is terrible. What memory footprint does it leave post install? My wife's netbook now crawls as a result of installing that hateful sheet.

    Hard not to lose respect for el reg after suggesting that. Even if the idrone/any other crapple stuff is any good hardware wise it's completely devalued by that utter wasteware.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      It still does a better job of keeping the 15,000 items in my 75Gb music library in order than anything else I've ever tried.

      (Iit's a damn sight better than Windows Media, I suppose that's not hard!)

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VLC, gah!

    "VLC is arguably the most format friendly media player you can download"

    VLC just repacks codecs that if you installed any media player could play and bundles them with a so-so player.

    If instead you install you can use pretty much any player you want and play at least as much (and possibly more) than VLC. You can even stick with Windows Media Player if you want.

    If you want a minimal, lightweight player I would recommend Media Player Classic (inc. in CCCP)

    1. James Halliday

      But that's the nice thing about VLC

      It's self-contained.

      I'll be the first to admit it's not the best for every 'playing a video' task (Media player classic, xbmc etc have spangly hardware acceleration for example).

      But for "just making the f'in file play", it can't be beaten.

      1. Neoc

        But the bad thing about VLC

        It's self-contained.

        I use CCCP + MCP, and the advantage is that *any* program that can use an external CODEC now has access to the same CODECs that MCP uses.

        Very useful if you are doing video handling/manipulation.

      2. Anonymous Coward


        Someone just doesn't like VLC?

  80. KarlTh

    "The only flaw: its frequent updates have to be applied manually"

    Really? Updates automatically on my box.

  81. David Bond


    You can turn off the adverts, open up a pdf, right click on the tool bar, and turn of the adverts.

  82. Eddie Johnson
    Dead Vulture

    Very Good Article

    A very good article and very useful comments too. Actually, for the first time I wanted to print out the comments page so I could run down some of these choices. Unfortunately the comments page has no print version and trying to print from the main page gives you only the first page (as happens with other Reg articles too, but that's why they have a print version). Please Reg, give us a Print link for the comments too so our wise words can be freed from cyberspace into meatspace.

  83. James Halliday
    Thumb Up

    Pretty much agree with every other post

    So just thought I'd add the stuff that doesn't seem to have been mentioned. - Mouse gestures for windows as a whole. The single most 'wtf is that?' app people ask as I become more efficient before their very eyes.

    7-zip - It's like every zip program, but better in every way (and gloriously free).

    Truecrypt - hide stuff properly.

    TorBrowser - Hide and browse.

    XBMC - Plug your PC into a TV and whip every piss-poor competing effort at creating a player that well pretty much plays everything.

  84. Big-nosed Pengie


    You forgot the most important one.

    1. dbateman

      Only one app needed on Windows

      the one you can download from


  85. ZenCoder

    nice article

    I have my own preferred list of must have freeware, which I won't bore anyone with but there are two programs on this list that I will take a look at.

    BTW a lot of there you can have automatically installed via which is a real time saver. Just don't do all the PCs in your house in the same 24 hours or they will flag you as a "business" user and will have to email them and ask to be unbanned.

  86. Pete 40

    Late to the party again but...

    ... can I just add my voice to the iTunes neigh-sayers - I've lost count of the hours I've lost trying to get this working on people's computers or finding it is the cause of knock-on problems. On several occasions recently I've felt like telling people that I won't even touch their computer if it's got iTunes installed (it will never get anywhere near any of mine) but in the end, like a glutton for punishment, I relent.

    So, free apps? Some nice ones listed here, to which I could add tons more but I'll restrict it to some of the wee gems that make up my armoury and that I haven't seen mentioned here.

    . Revo Uninstaller

    . Eusing Registry Defrag

    . SpaceSniffer - Disk space usage analyser

    . UltraFileSearch

    . Universal Extractor

    . Browser Chooser - Intercepts app calls to browser

    . Autoruns - startup/service etc. organiser

    . Jarte - Light portable word processor

    . SIW - System info

    . Syncback Free - Backups

    . VirtualCloneDrive

  87. Anonymous Coward


    Foxit installs one of those wonderful toolbar on your computer. No option during install to NOT install it. Very fail to recomend it

    1. Clockworkseer

      Not forced to install

      Actually, last time I installed Foxit, it gave me the option not to install the toolbar. Just uncheck the box. Unless that changed in the last month or so...

    2. Snafu 2


  88. Martin Owens


    I think you meant to say "Windows PC" because iTunes and Microsoft's pack is not available for Apple Mac PCs and IBM Compatibles running a FreeDesktop.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    FastStone (or not)

    FastStone is amazing...

    ... as long as you don't happen to use a different codepage, or -heaven forbid- one of the asian languages, from time to time.

    Having to watch out for filenames is sad for an application with such smoothness and speed, make that go away and it might just be the best image viewer out there...

  90. EddieA

    Scribus, Scribus, Scribus

    Scribus, Scribus, Scribus

    Excellent DTP makes excellent PDFs too - always overlooked


    FreePDFXP - for printing anything to pdf

    Aptana for webdevs - Netbeans for other devs

    Must Haves: Firefox - Thunderbird Foobar 2000 (was a Songbird fan but loads and closes too slow and not happy it's stopped supporting Linux - has some nice features though)

    + a system recovery disc of course :-)

  91. Dave H 2

    I like iTunes

    Yes, it's slow to launch, yes it installs crap that needs removing. Yet I still use it, because I dislike all the other music players. I've tried WinAmp, MediaMonkey and many others, but the interfaces are always too fiddly and annoying in comparison, so I put up with iTunes.

    I don't understand the support for VLC, though. I've tried it a few times, due to constant recommendations. It's always seemed ugly, unstable and generally less reliable than MPC to me. Oh, and I hate its icon.

    Media Player Classic also allows all menus to be removed, so you just see the video display, which is a killer feature, IMO.

  92. Jason D

    Suggestions from myself

    Some have been mentioned, others are hidden gems:

    GIMP - image editor/creator -

    Faststone Capture - Best freeware screengrabber -

    Flexible Renamer - Best file/folder renamer -

    CCCP Codec - Includes all major codecs, MPC, everything to play any movie -

    Unlocker 1.8.9 - Removes any locks on files so you can move/delete them (even networked files!) -

    Windows Live Writer - Super easy to update almost any blog -

    Filezilla - Simple FTP client and/or server -

    File Date Changer - only useful if you wish to fake the date a file was made! -

    Eulalyzer - Reads any EULA and points out odd paragraphs -

    These are the ones off the top of my head, when I think of more, I'll reply again.

    1. Jason D


      Basic items that almost every coputer should have:

      Firefox, with the follow add-ons

      - Coral IETab (IE in firefox for those odd sites)

      - DownThemAll (download manager

      - Firebug (incredible HTML debugger)

      - Adblock plus (blocks ads, obviously)

      - NoScript (prevent certain scripts from running etc, better protection for you)

      - Download statusbar (self-explanatory)


      Sunbelt Kerio Firewall - free firewall, with 'easy' and 'advanced' modes -

      avast antivirus - free anti virus -

      Spybot search and destroy - spyware killer, also innoculates IE from dodgy sites -

      foobar2000 - music player -

      These are the main things I use.

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Unfortunately, most of my friends are not computer literate, but they still buy ipods and ask me to put music on them. I installed itunes (what a hog) and i use it to update their ipods. When i'm done, i disable all of it's associated services from running at startup. Next time i need it, i just run a little NETSTART or NETSTOP batch file to run or kill all itunes services...

  94. snowdude


    7-zip is the first app installed on every PC for me. Then (in no particular order):



    Agent Ransack

    Everything else is installed as needed.

    ps. iTunes? Really?

  95. Arraya

    Just goes to show...

    With this type of article you aren't going to please everyone but it has to be said you fowled up by putting in:


    iTunes (You clearly own an iPhone :p)

    Next time why don't you put these top ten lists to the Reg user's vote then nobody can complain ?

  96. Richard 120


    iTunes is flamebait

  97. Waderider


    Alot of the comments here are just expressing personal opinion. But itunes, you're so far of the mark it's not real. It's something I'd expect to see recommended by the BBC website tech pages.

  98. paulm

    VideoLan Client?

    From the VLC FAQ:

    "VLC is the official name of VideoLAN's main product, often named VLC. VideoLAN Client is an ancient name of this product."

    It is NOT formally known as the VideoLan Client - it is officially VLC.

  99. Anonymous Coward

    OO32 -- oooooo

    BTW brill + vitally necessary article + replies. Nobody needs cygwin? Weird. But on to OO32. Oh dear: bugs. And yes I've done the diligence reporting. And yes I think it's a jolly good thing. But given that the only time I ever touch microsoft doc is because someone is holding a gun to my head, it aint cool that OO32 spins off and thinks for a few minutes, trying to disentangle some windoze artifact. And sometimes it never comes back. And the pdf-maker fails. And the layout. And ...

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge


      .. if you ever work on complex documents and Word borks on it to the point of simply crashing, OOo will save the day (and your doc). Open and save in OOo, and the crashing goes.

      Don't know how it does it, but I have been using that trick since OOo 1.2 or so, it has saved me + formed colleagues an absolute *ton* of work.

      1. BigRedS
        Thumb Up

        OOo is excellent at fixing MS Office Borkings

        We had an issue with a ~2MB spreadsheet that would slowly creep up to about 40MB with frequent opening-and-saving through Excel 03.

        The only fix we could come up with was to every morning open it in OOo and save it again to bring the size down. Apparently OOo wasn't 'secure enough' to actually deploy it proper, so we went and got MS Office 07 where the file's just allowed to be ginormous.

  100. Gav

    Say no to iTunes.

    It cannot be emphasised enough. Say no to iTunes. Do not install iTunes unless you absolutely have no other option. And even then, lock it down so it does nothing without asking you twice first.

    Otherwise it will take over your computer, re-organise, retag, and install no end of crap that interferes with everything else.

    Apart from that, it's garbage. There's a dozen other free media players who can do the same better, or without all the accompanying grief iTunes brings.

  101. Lan ser


    is the only free software needed on a PC

  102. Barry Rueger


    I, and most people I know, have settled with Google's Chrome browser and are very happy with it. So simple, just does what you want.

    Open Office gets installed on every computer I own, but honestly almost never gets used. The Real World runs on MS office, and MS Office file formats. If you want to get real work done, they're your only choice.

    1. Number6

      MS File Formats

      The whole point about Open Office is that it will read and write the MS formats, so it can be used quite happily to edit such files and still talk to the unenlightened.

  103. Anonymous Coward


    light your balls on fire for suggesting iTuna

  104. san1t1

    Is it just me who uses songbird?

    As with others, I avoid iTunes. iTunes is NOT a tool for people who understand computers, it's a tool for users who want the fully managed Apple experience. And yes, it will all break down when they want to get a new machine. However, we all know these users will not be commenting on this thread, but instead be blissfully happy with their managed media library.

    I think most of us understand that iTunes exists primarily as a tool to help Apple sell hardware and media. It's an advertising channel for them, and that will always be it's priority.

    All these recommendations of foobar, winamp etc. And not one person mentions Songbird. Been giving that a shot for a while (to be fair on a mac, but same same), and while yes, to get it to how i wanted it, i had to put in a few plug ins, but it's 100% open source, and from the Mozilla foundation, and largely the firefox code base.

    Microsoft Security Essentials (which I like in fact - it's the most invisible a/v i've ever seen on windows) is NOT free. You need a paid and activated and "genuine" version of windows to download and install it. Every other A/V will install on a pirated copy of windows. MSE requires you to PAY.



    1. EddieA

      probably will be soon

      See my remarks under scribus scribus scribus re Songbird


      foobar does some things I like which songbird doesn't

      and it seems that Songbird is in danger of making the same mistake as Nero i.e. moving on to video pmps support etc etc and prioritising new features on these media rather than fixing/adding to basic audio functionality.

      Although not fanatical about Linux I do feel it's a shame that Songbird dropped Linux support coincidentally after making contracts with Sony (DRM fanatics) - get more funding and drop support for Linux??

      - as they're based on Firefox platform as well it seems wrong somehow.

      Just my two penn'orth

    2. Filippo Silver badge

      Security Essentials updates

      Correction: Security Essentials updates silently and automatically just like any other AV.

  105. Mike Shepherd
    Thumb Down

    Whose PC is it anyway?

    Tried Foxit PDF Viewer on this recommendation and chose to control the installation options (to avoid its sneaking in stuff didn't want). But the Firefox "add-on" isn't just for viewing PDFs: it occupies window space all the time.

    Foxit also changed my IE home page to suit itself. There was no option not to do this.

    Deleted it immediately. Clearly I'd expect more trouble from a program that believes it owns my PC.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Googling FoxIt and "home page" -

      Seems to confirm independently that the latest FoxIt version does set Internet Explorer's home page, and also unavoidably installs the toolbar under its own brand. Publisher presumably is right now realising that this is unpopular behaviour, so it may go away.

    2. DrXym

      Lot's of free apps do this...

      ... and its incredibly annoying. Yes I know the app is free, but it's common decency to offer the user the option to choose to install some toolbar or not. At the end of the day many people still will do it, but at least they've been given the choice.

    3. sisk

      BIt of advice on Foxit

      I've been using Foxit for years. Great program. But you're right about the installer. The solution to this problem is to grab the Zip file off their site instead of the installer. Unpack and run Foxit. No extra just included that way.

  106. bexley


    itunes? gold standard??


    it's bloated and awful, try as you might you'll not be able to stop the ipod service from starting at startup even if you dont have an ipod and you disable the service.

    The music you can buy through it is 128Kbps - shitty quality, it's inexplicably large for a music player, horrible piece of software to have on your machine.

    Mediamonkey, songbird, much better choice.

    1. Number6

      Gold Standard

      When it comes to gold, think Gordon Brown...

  107. roundyz

    how about

    Vim and mitex.

  108. Anonymous Coward


    How can ANYONE live without DropBox?

    Like UbuntuOne, but better in virtually every respect, and multiplatform. It's also got Android and iPhone apps in beta and soon to support selective sync.

    Click the link above and checkout the video on their site for a better explanation of how it works, and what benefits it offers...

  109. Dylan Fahey
    Jobs Horns

    I was about to send this list to my friends, but...

    Itunes, really, Itunes? You guys need to put down the crack pipe and get back to the real world. I wouldn't even suggest itunes even if you were stupid enough to buy a Iphone/Ipod instead of a FLAC playing device.

  110. Rickfu

    Decrapifier for any new system

    Different than CrapCleaner (CCleaner), this will remove all

    of that preinstalled trialware from a new PC. Excellent for removing those demos you'll never use

    like AOL (?!) MSN and a lot of the rest. It's works flawlessly in my experience, but even if it misses something, you're that much closer to a less-crappy machine.

    1. The Flying Dutchman
      Thumb Up

      First thing to use on a new system...

      ... before one gets around to installing software that's actually useful.

      On more than one I've had the, ahem, pleasure to deal with a brand new out of the box machine, and in each case, the plethora of toolbars, trial versions and thinly veiled spyware could have easily taken an hour or more to manually hunt down and remove.

      So yes, on a new machine, Decrapifier should be the first thing you run.

  111. Reg Sim
    Thumb Up

    I am not gona wade threw all your posts, but I will push my suggestion forward.

    Netpaint, its free (payment via donation), it does not install crap, and it works really nicley.

    I use it as a replacement for Paint Shop Pro 3, where afterwards they broke what I liked about PSP.

    Anyhoo whilst I disagree with some choices (ie iTunes ), I used to agree with others such as FoxIT, when I first found it I loved it, now I am not so hot as they have been slowly but surely making it less of a pleasure, and have now managed to put me off stumping up the cash for there PDF publisher version.

    Overall its nice to have somthing like this published every so often so I can have a shuffty at it and see if there is anything I have missed.

    1. Shakje

      I'm guessing you actually mean


      I was going to recommend the exact same thing, it's a fantastic piece of software.

  112. Denarius

    MS Security Free with nagware

    Also insists WGA be installed, despite doing a check with Redmond that the XP license is valid before installing. Then it demands WGA installation daily and insists my valid XP license is probably fake. Then it states 31 -n days to deactivation.

    And it crashes something every hour or two and wants to send "error logs" offsite containing personal details. As soon as I can convince my wife to use a reliable OS, MS and its products will be gone.

    No I dont want to install WGA and use the common deactivation hacks. Back to other suppliers for security from some firms less nosy.

  113. sisk

    Some right, some wrong

    OpenOffice, despite the flack it gets as a 'freetard product' is absolutely a must have for a home computer. Honestly why anyone would pony up the money for the fugly piece of crap office suite Microsoft tries to cram down our throats is beyond me. Open Office looks better, works better, and is free. A clear win even if it is a bit on the slowish side.

    iTunes....Seriously....Freckin' ITUNES? WTF are you people thinking? I can name off half a dozen free media library/player programs that are better than that sorry excuse for software.

    Foxit Reader rocks. Easily 3 times as fast as Adobe Reader and gives you some editing capability as well (with the Windows version anyway). Just make sure you grab the zip file rather than the exe when you download it unless you want extra crap on your computer.

    I used Pidgin till I got sick of being bothered by everyone on my buddy list every time I sat down at the computer. I used Trillian before that but got fed up with that program for some reason I can't recall. Anyway, Pidgin is a nice program to have if you do IMs.

  114. Bill Gould


    iTunes? No thanks. Never. Ever.

    MSSE? Just use Avast or Avira or $yourfreeAVchoice.

    Skype? Okay, it's not bad. Not even close to necessary though.

    OOoOOoOOO or whatever the hell they're calling it now... eat me. Never putting that piece of shit anywhere near a computer again. Long story. Many flaws. Not usable.

  115. Sooty

    i suppose it depends

    on what you are going to use the machine for, for me an absolute essential freebie application is visual studio express.

    obviously pretty useless if you're not a programmer though. To my mind pidgin, skype, etc would fall into the category of preinstalled crap i'd remove before using. Not exactly essentials!

  116. Ramon Zarat

    Thanks for the lsit!

    Only, please, remove iTune...

    I would also add the following FREE apps:

    7-zip. First thing I install on a PC. Will do zip, rar, 7z format and MANY other like CAB and MSI. Faster than winzip and winrar!

    Total commander. Will do batch rename, super fast FTP, batch archive conversion, cut and join file and so many other thing, the list is endless... It's my swiss army knife.

    MSSE. Best anti-virus, anti-spyware I ever used. And I've tried a lot of them. Practically no resource overhead. Catch everything. Zero false positive. Oh, and it IS -free- with my *legally* purchased Windows... and since it only run on Windows anyway, saying it's not free is illogic!

    Spybot. Mainly for the "immunize" function which I do once a month to black list bad website form IE and Firefox. Since I use MSSE, Spybot find nothing save minor things like bad cookies! :)

    Malwarebyte's Anti-malware: A complement to Spybot. Can also delete locked files. Not much a use since MSSE, but you never know...

    Superantispyware: A complement to Spybot. Not much a use since MSSE, but you never know...

    Spywareblaster: A great web browser immunize. Prevent you from accessing bad website. Just run the app once a month to update IE or Firefox black list. No need to run all the time. Complementary and similar to Spybot immunize function.

    Utorrent. Best torrent client in my book. You might want to disable the bandwidth management function that cause problems on some configuration.

    Bit Che. A fantastic torrent meta crawler. Can't live without.

    TCP-Z. Wonderful to analyze your bandwidth in real time with a lot of statistics. Also patch Tcip.sys file (permanent) or even live in memory (until reboot) without modifying your original file! Changing half-open limit to 50 result in getting my file to download at peak speed a lot faster in all my peer apps!

    PC tools firewall. Light years ahead of even costly retail solution. As good and simpler than Comodo.

    Peerblock. The successor of Peerguardian. Much better and stable. Work with Vista and Win7. You like to preserve your anonymity online and make sure you don't access suspicious/harmful website? Get this, fast.... This is not a firewall, it's an IP filter! Work great with PC tool firewall.

    Netdrive. Want to have the ability make FULL folder operation on FTP folder? Just map a windows drive letter to an FTP address with this app and you are all set!

    DAEMON Tools Lite. Do I need to present this? Best CD/DVD emulation ever.

    Firefox with: Tab mix plus, DownthemAll!, DownloadHelper, Adblock plus, Default Zoom level and your choice of dictionary to correct your spelling in post such as this one!. (I use United-State dictionary 4.0)

  117. Anonymous Coward

    Just to add my voice... the masses exclaiming that you should actually be shot for suggesting iTunes.

    Also, I prefer PDF-XChange Viewer to Foxit. But that's a preference thing I guess. Oh, and Teracopy is awesome.

  118. Dex

    WinAMP instead of iTunes

    Enough said there! It'll even do your iPod too :D

  119. Anonymous Coward

    MS Antivirus

    You cannot install MS Antivirus on every new PC - it is free only for PERSONAL usage!

  120. Theresa Forster

    Apps i always install

    On a new Windows PC the following is always done:

    stop it hiding extensions for known file types,

    Set the swap partition as fixed 2x memory

    Install Firefox and disable Internet Exploiter (IE)

    Install Spybot S&D

    Install AVG antivirus Free

    Install RocketDock - amazing applesque looks and skinnable

    K-Lite Codec Pack incl. Media Player Classic

    Winamp + shoutcast (i stream to the internet a lot)

    Notepad ++ (a must have)

    Then for my official capacity as Developer



    Java SDK

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