Essential (and free) software

We all have our special few programs that we cannot live without and always install after every time we format our PCs. Below are a few of the applications that I hold dear, and all are free to download.

Firefox (7.6MB)

When looking at the market share for October 2009 [as per – statistics vary significantly according to the polled user demographic -Ed.], IE8, IE7,IE6, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera are at 12.8%, 14.1%,10.6%, 47.5%, 8.0%, 3.8%, and 2.3% respectively, Firefox is currently the top Web browser. With the plethora of plug-ins available for the browser, it’s not hard to see why. (150MB)

Since April 30th 2002, when Open Office(OO) 1.0 was released, the product has taken great strides and is a competent alternative to the Microsoft Office suite of products. OO consists of multiple components, with Base, Calc, Draw, Impress, Math, and Writer being the OO versions of Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Power Point, Microsoft Equation Editor, and Microsoft Word, respectively.

Thunderbird (6.4MB)

Thunderbird is a Mozilla-developed e-mail client for a complete replacement of Microsoft Outlook.


Super Anti-Spyware (7.2MB)

I have a lot of appreciation for this application. While paid-for versions of SAS are available, the free version does everything you need it to.

Foxit PDF Reader (5.11MB)

Who likes waiting an age for PDF files to open? Not me. Foxit Reader is a lightweight, lightning-fast PDF reader. Foxit

Reader also has support for tabs, so you can have multiple PDF files open in one instance of the reader, which makes life much easier when working with multiple PDF documents.

K-Lite Codec Pack (Size Varies)

K-lite is perfect for someone (like me) who plays a lot of media on their PC and doesn’t want to worry about which codecs they have installed. It also comes with Media Player Classic, so you can play all your videos in one player instead of requiring multiple players for multiple formats. The K-Lite pack comes in multiple versions (Basic 4.7MB; Standard 10.4MB; Full14.2MB; Mega 23.2MB) with the Mega Pack having support for Real Media files. For a complete run-down of each package’s capabilities, please look here.

VLC Media Player (17.2MB)

As good as Media Player Classic is, I just prefer VLC. Whether it’s because I just know all the shortcuts or because it just works, I’m not sure. VLC also can do a lot more than just play media files; for a full feature list take a gander here.


ImgBurn (1.48MB)

For anyone who is tired of Nero’s bloat, ImgBurn comes to the rescue.

Pidgin (13.8MB)

The default installer has support for 16 different IMs, and more with the use of plug-ins. You can use Pidgin to chat on MXit from your PC and look a lot busier at work than if you were using your phone. A slightly older version of Pidgin with the MXit plug-in can be found here.

7-Zip (1MB)

A tiny application with support for about a gazillion formats, and better compression ratios than WinZip.

Another notable mentions include Teracopy, Daemon Tools Lite, AVAST, DVD Decrypter, Free Download Manager, PC Tools Firewall Plus, Guru3D Driver Sweeper,and nlite.

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