In an effort to help with the overhaul that the Applications & Fixes thread sorely needed, I've put together a lengthy list of recommended free software for Windows. I've checked most, but not all, of the links, and have used at least half of the software packages myself. Obviously further suggestions would be great.
Recommended general-use software:
7-zip - For handling compressed files
FireFox | Chrome - Web browsers
Thunderbird | FoxMail | IncrediMail | The Bat! - email clients
VLC | Media Player Classic - Home Cinema - Multimedia playback software
FileZilla | FireFTP | Cyberduck | WinSCP - FTP clients
BitTorrent | uTorrent | Transmission | Vuze - BitTorrent client software.
GIMP | GIMPShop | Paint.NET - Raster/bitmap graphics editing software.
Inkscape - Vector graphics editing software.
Skype | Oovoo - Videoconferencing software.
OpenOffice.org | LibreOffice - Free office productivity software.
CDex | Exact Audio Copy | FLAC - CD-ripping/audio conversion software.
CDBurnerXP | ImgBurn
Adobe Reader | Foxit PDF Reader - PDF viewers.
CutePDF Writer - Free Virtual PDF Printer (for converting any printable document to PDF).
PDFSAM | PDFTK Builder - utilities for merging/splitting multi-page PDF documents.
Scribus - Layout & publishing software.
VirtualBox | Virtual PC - Virtual machine host software.
Swift To-Do List Lite | ThinkingRock GTD - Task Management (Getting Things Done) software.
Blender | Art of Illusion | trueSpace - 3D Modelling, texturing and rendering software.
ProTeXt - Windows TeX typesetting software.
Synctoy - Useful for synchronising files & folders between locations such as USB storage, SD cards, etc.
Picasa | Imagine - Image viewing & organising software.
DVDShrink | Handbrake | AutoGK - DVD transcoding software.
Notepad++ - Coding-oriented text editor.
Dev-C++ - C++ integrated development environment.
Secunia PSI - Scans system for vulnerabilities and out-dated/obsolte software installs.
HFSExplorer - Allows Windows users to open OS X volumes (DMG files).
Sysinternals - A collection of hugely useful utilities and diagnostic tools, including:
Desktops - Tiny utility to allow you to have up to four desktops/workspaces at a time.
Process Explorer - Shows detailed information about running programs, open files, open directories, etc.
Process Monitor - Advanced monitoring utility able to show real-time file system access, registry activity, process & thread activity.
Autoruns - Advanced utility to see everything that runs when your system starts up.
Contig - Improved defragmentation utility with more options than the standard Windows defragmenter.
LiveUSB Creator - Useful tool for making a bootable USB drive with live operating system images (eg Fedora Live).
Virtual Clone Drive - Utility that creates a virtual optical device on your system for mounting & handling ISO images.
EasyBCD - GUI-based interface for manipulating the Vista & 7 bootloaders. (Free for limited non-commercial use).
cygwin - A collection of tools that act as a Linux API layer.
GSMART Control - GUI-based tool for querying/controlling SMART data on hard drives.
WinClone - An OS X application for cloning /backing up Windows partitions installed with Bootcamp.
RealVNC Free | UltraVNC | TightVNC - Clients for accessing systems remotely via network.
AVG Free | Avast! | ClamWin | Microsoft Security Essentials - Free anti-virus software packages.
ZoneAlarm Free | Comodo Internet Security | Online Armor Free | PCTools Firewall - Free alternatives to the Windows internal firewall.
Backup, recovery & maintenance tools/utilities:
GParted - Versatile Linux-based disk/partition management tool
Clonezilla | DriveImage XML | Drive Backup 9.0 Express | Easeus Disk Copy | Macrium Reflect Free Edition - Free backup & recovery utilities.
F-Secure Bootable CD - Free bootable utility for AV scanning & disinfection.
NTPasswd - Offline SAM editor for unlocking local accounts & resetting passwords for Windows systems.
PhotoRec - Data recovery software for recovering lost/deleted files.
DBAN - Darik's Boot and Nuke is a useful automatic secure disk deletion utility. Note - DBAN will wipe any hard drive installed in a system that boots from this disk.
Link to the old thread.
Link to settings to make Windows Vista much faster. (Mukki)
Some handy apps for a new PC
http://pcdecrapifier.com/ - remove the crap that comes preinstalled on a new machine
http://ninite.com/ Tick the apps you want to install. The installer can also be used to update apps later on.
Note Secunia PSI listed above will can also patch most common apps.
http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-multiboot-usb-creator/ Great for creating a multi boot USB. You can include rescue disks and anti virus scanners as well as live distros, thus giving yourself a very useful tool.
Comes in both Windows and Linux versions.
CCleaner - Crap cleaner.
Revo Uninstaller - what Add/Remove Programs should be.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware | SuperAntiSpyware - On-demand malware scanners.
Teracopy - Alternate to built-in windows copier. Allows pausing and queueing of copy & paste jobs.
Treesize Free | WinDirStat - See how much space is taken up where and by what
Fences - Just handy for organising your desktop, stops icons rearranging after exiting full screen programs (used to happen me a few times in XP)
Search Everything - Alternative to windows search.
Not sure if this has been posted before (apologies if it has, I couldn't see it in a search of the boards)
There is an update for Windows 7 to allow you to preview RAW files in the 'windows viewer'
MS Camera Codec Pack
Secunia's Personal Security Inspector v2.0 is out now, and includes the ability to automatically patch/update vulnerable or out of date packages. Potentially very useful if you're used to being the family tech support person.
CPU-Z is also a very handy little utility for identifying system specs from within Windows. If you download the zip version you don't need to install it, just run the executable.
Recently while sorting out a home DVD project I ended up trying out DVDFlick and DVDStyler. As far as I know they aren't as sophisticated as commercial products, but on the other hand they are free and seem to work reasonably well.
PDF's Free software
Sumatra PDF is a free PDF, eBook (MOBI), XPS, DjVu, CHM, Comic Book (CBZ and CBR) reader for Windows.Fast no frills reader
Foxit PDF reader is fast, lightweight and allows you to open pdf, view pdf, print, and read any PDF files. - you can also redline PDF's, this allows you to add a layer of comments and text , basic freehand drawing , and highlighting too. Very handy for notes
Free reference manager and PDF organizer | Mendeley and 500MB of storage for PDF's can highlight them and add notes and search the text across all of them. Integrates in to word and openoffice so you can add references easily - pick the format from a list - for libreoffice you have to click on the .oxt file in the openoffice plugins folder
PDFCreator - The free PDF Creator and Converter - print any document to a PDF also prints to .jpg . png pictures and multi page TIFF's
PDF Split and Merge works at page level, allows you to join pdf's together or extract full pages , handy for adding Graphs and Appendices to reports
You can stop reading now there rest is for completeness sake
To protect a document a little you can print it with pdfcreator
at this stage you can copy text so use Adobe Acrobat to open it , when you print go into advanced and print as image to pdfcreator having set the security options in pdfcreator to whatever you like , it won't stop OCR but will make it a little more difficult, after that you are down to watermarking documents
Adobe Acrobat X is bloated, but it now has an option to convert PDF to word or excel online, haven't tried it yet, but I'd guess it respects some of the PDF security settings - most of which you can remove with a pass through pdfcreator.
many scanners give you the option of scanning to PDF, but you can use pdfcreator and pdf split and merge to assemble images into a pdf manually if you felt inclined.
- Don't use Acrobat unless you need to be 100% sure the document looks fine in it. It's bloated , it needs monthly security patches that are bigger than most of the following apps. And most importantly most of the patches are for functionality you don't actually need.
PostScript is a Turing complete stack language. This means it is impossible to for Acrobat to detect all possible nastiness a pdf document. Simple as. Last Christmas there were some patches for HP printers, since you could use postscript in a doucment to change their firmware. Zombie printers [/RANT]
If you've got this far and you have a HP network printer, please update it's firmware if there was a patch released last December.