If you are like millions of home computer users on Windows, then there is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on software. Many of your daily computing and multimedia needs can be met with some fine free downloads.
As of March 2007, here is the Net for Beginners recommended list of Free Internet Downloads. This list represents what we About writers believe to be the most useful free software on the Net, for the greatest breadth of user needs. Most of all, the price is right. Perhaps try these products for a few months, at which point you may outgrow them, but at least it won't cost you an arm and a leg.
(this list is in random order)
- Thunderbird Email Client (a fine alternative to Outlook email.)
- VLC media player (much easier on your RAM than Real Player or Windows Media Player, and VLC will play a greater breadth of file types.)
- Picasa digital photo organizer (outstanding usefulness for any digital camera owner.)
- WinRar compression/decompression (a shareware product, WinRar outpaces WinZip because of its ability to open more file formats.)
- Ad-Aware personal anti-spyware (excellent spyware protection for no fee.)
- Audacity audio editor (for recording radio songs, creating voicemail messages, ringtones, and more.)
- Fox It .pdf reader (faster and less cumbersome than Adobe, and it does not clog up your memory like Adobe does.)
- Firefox web browser (simply put, Firefox 2.0 is better than IE6 for daily web browsing, and Firefox outpaces IE7 in the area of custom modifications.)
- Skype communication software (add a headset, and you can talk to people long distance through your computer... for no long distance fee!)
- Google Earth (the power of satellite photography, GPS tracking, and the Internet, all in one screen!)
- Open Office spreadsheet, word processing, and presentations software (for most people's needs, Open Office is 2/3rds as good as Microsoft Office 2003. Not to mention: Open Office is free.)
- Trillian instant messenger (run multiple accounts and names, and have Wiki access too. Excellent if you like to instant message.)
- Special mention: uTorrent (this is the single most reliable bittorrent downloading software today.)