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Essential Windows Apps

Green DestinyGreen Destiny Registered User regular
So after 10 years of using primarily Macs, I find myself once again using Windows (Windows 7, to be exact). Now, I'm completely out of the loop on what apps I need.

I need a good anti-virus/firewall program (preferably free or inexpensive), and any great apps that you guys can recommend.

I'm set on browsers, though; I'll continue using Safari. :mrgreen:

Green Destiny on
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Posts

  • Centipede DamascusCentipede Damascus Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Safari? On Windows?

    Seriously?

    Centipede Damascus on
  • exoplasmexoplasm Gainfully Employed Near Blizzard HQRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I've had this bookmarked forever from a thread here. Take your pick:

    http://shsc.info/UsefulWindowsSoftware

    exoplasm on
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  • FremFrem Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    The following are what I consider essential on any Windows computer I'll be using for a substantial period of time. Your selection and definition of "essential" may differ slightly.

    Antivirus: Avast
    IM: Pidgin
    Note-taking: Tomboy or Evernote
    Quick-launch: Launchy
    Email: Thunderbird or Postbox
    Music: Foobar2000
    Video: VLC or Media Player Classic.
    Text editing: Notepad++
    Clipboard management: Ditto
    File backup/sync: Dropbox
    IRC: Xchat
    Disk usage: SpaceMonger
    File copying: TerraCopy
    File compression/decompression: 7-zip
    (lightweight) PDF viewing: SumatraPDF
    (lightweight) Word processing: AbiWord
    General office documents: OpenOffice.org

    Free games? My list
    Got a flash drive? PortableApps
    Other sweet apps? LifeHacker

    Frem on
  • wunderbarwunderbar What Have I Done? Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Seriously though, don't use Safari on windows. It's a turd. It's fine on OS X, I use it on that, but I woudln't touch it with a 10 foot pole in windows.

    Use chrome or Firefox.

    wunderbar on
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  • DarmakDarmak RAGE vympyvvhyc vyctyvyRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    wunderbar wrote: »
    Seriously though, don't use Safari on windows. It's a turd. It's fine on OS X, I use it on that, but I woudln't touch it with a 10 foot pole in windows.

    Use chrome or Firefox.
    Seriously, Safari really isn't very good in Windows. Hell, even IE8 is fine and dandy.

    Darmak on
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  • elliotw2elliotw2 Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I tend to use Seamonkey on Windows for browsing, it's a little faster than Firefox, and it has all of the mail IRC and such included into it. For Anti-virus, go with Avast, it's free, it works, it doesn't have any stupid limitations like most other free scanners

    elliotw2 on
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  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    7-zip, then Google for a 7z.dll with decent icons appropriate for your theme. Remember to change 7-zip's options, too; the default settings are terrible (primarily how it hooks into the context menu, it fills it up with lots of stuff you probably don't use, like automatic archive+email. Also since it can open virtually all archives, you may as well tell it to handle all archives).

    Consider Picasa for photo library management, and Paint.net for casual picture editing. Picasa comes with some minor photo editing, too.

    uTorrent, for torrents.

    Remember to get drivers for your hardware. NVidia/ATI and so on, in particular.

    ImgBurn to burn images. Virtual CloneDrive to mount them.

    There's no need to grab everything immediately, unless you think you'll be out internet access for an extended period - with Windows the best software to do X keeps changing every now and then, so just grab it when you need it, if possible (especially with particular tools like ImgBurn and such).

    ronya on
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  • Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    http://download.live.com/ <- There might be one or two items you don't want but seriously this is a great set of programs from MS to install on fresh OS installs.

    Windows Live Mail is great email client, it's better than Thunderbird in my opinion.

    For Video on Win7 WMP12 is actually really good and has full hardware accelration for H.264 video that VLC is lacking. It's the best HD video player you're going to find.

    The best Anti-virus you're going to find is NOD32. You do have to pay for it but it's only $30 from newegg.

    As for browsers, give IE8 a little time. It might surprise you how good it is for end users. I'm not that big a fan of Firefox or Chrome for various reasons but Opera is pretty good.

    Dark Shroud on
  • StarfuckStarfuck Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited August 2009
    TeraCopy
    Great little app

    Starfuck on
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  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Opera, WinDirStat, Pidgin, TClock, foobar2000, 7zip, Foxit Reader, Process Explorer.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • AlgertmanAlgertman Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I don't know if it's OK to ask but what something that will let me download videos off of something like youtube and burn to dvd.

    Algertman on
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    ... essentially, don't; almost anything worth burning to DVD, is worth getting a better quality of, rather than converting and then burning an flv video.

    ronya on
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  • AlgertmanAlgertman Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Well that's the thing. I don't really know where else to find the stuff outside of embedded video sites.

    It's nothing illegal like full movies/TV shows. It's all art type stuff or weird remix videos or something.

    Algertman on
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Well, MediaCoder should be able to convert *.flv to whatever.

    Getting the *.flv from whatever video site may involve using any one of numerous online tools. Tedious, but it should be ok unless you're planning on burning a couple hundred videos or something.

    ronya on
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  • SeeksSeeks Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Video Downloadhelper.

    The second part is indeed one word. My go-to youtube ripper. Works with tons of other shit too.

    Seeks on
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  • DiannaoChongDiannaoChong Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Algertman wrote: »
    Well that's the thing. I don't really know where else to find the stuff outside of embedded video sites.

    It's nothing illegal like full movies/TV shows. It's all art type stuff or weird remix videos or something.

    I would find the artist, and ask him for a better copy. the sound quality jump alone would be worth it.

    DiannaoChong on
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  • DekuStickDekuStick Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Steam. Incredible deals on games some times and even if you're not a gamer, your PC gamer friends will have it and you can use the friends list to communicate with them.

    www.steampowered.com

    Ventrilo. The best voice communication program you can ask for. This also falls under my Mac essential programs list. Servers are really cheap and most of my friends have given up on IM. Any IM I get is usually "Vent?!".

    www.ventrilo.com

    DekuStick on
  • BioHaz594BioHaz594 Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    My Windows essentials list... (for my XP systems at least)

    Antiviral: ESET NOD32
    Chat/IM: Miranda-IM
    Email: Thunderbird
    Video Playback: Windows Media Player & Media Player Classic
    Music: Winamp 5
    File Compression: 7-Zip
    Browser: Maxthon 2, Tho someday I may switch over to Chrome
    Image Editing: GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

    Others:
    uTorrent for bittorrent client.
    Synergy for using one keyboard and mouse across my two systems simultaneously without a KVM box.
    Hamachi for private networking.
    TrueCrypt for file encryption.
    Samurize for system stats monitoring.
    RivaTuner to tweak my Nvidia drivers & using it to see my vid card stats ingame via overlay.
    Steam for buying games via digital distrobution & chat (even while ingame).
    Ventrilo for VOIP.
    Startup Delayer to keep some of these apps in line during system startup.
    Badaboom for transcoding videos for my PSP/PS3.
    DVD Shrink 3.2 for ripping DVDs I own.
    Media Monkey for managing my music collection.

    BioHaz594 on
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  • JerikTelorianJerikTelorian Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    AVG by Grisoft is a pretty good antivirus program (though it's been getting a bit bloaty, lately).
    http://free.avg.com/

    I rather like Trillian Astra for my messaging. It has a pretty good feel. Pidgin is also rather popular.

    JerikTelorian on
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    Anyone notice how some things (mattresses and the copy machines in Highrise) are totally impenetrable? A steel wall, yeah that makes sense, but bullets should obliterate copy machines.

    I don't know about you, but I always buy a bullet proof printer. Its a lot more expensive, but I think the advantages are apparent.
  • FatmanGamesFatmanGames Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    DVDFab5, Nero - burn dvds and transcoding
    PSP or Paint.Net - basic image editing
    Audacity - sound recording
    Steam (DUH!!) - games
    Firefox - browser
    Pidgn - IM
    iTunes - music
    Virtual PC or Virtual Box or VM Ware - virtual machine (make a VM to browse so you don't screw up your real PC)
    Skype - IM w/ voice, video
    FileZilla - FTP
    Notepad++ - text editing
    Visual Studio 2008 - development
    Office 2003 - I still don't like 2007! screw ribbons!
    Windows 7 - also, screw Vista.
    7Zip - file compression (or WinRAR)
    True Crypt + GetDropBox.com - online backup (DropBox) with encryption (TrueCrypt)
    Symantic AntiVirus - the corporate edition isn't so resource hungry, and it performs / detects better than freebies
    Subversion + Tortoise - Source Control (for coders)

    FatmanGames on
  • VistiVisti Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Utorrent, VLC and foobar2000 are all essential for me. YMMV.

    Visti on
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  • IdolisideIdoliside Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Steam, Winamp, Xfire, Firefox are my essentials. Other than games its pretty much all i use my computer for.

    Idoliside on
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  • SeeksSeeks Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Man, this forum really needs a sticky "essential apps" thread.

    Seeks on
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  • RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    MediaMonkey for music management.
    ZoomPlayer is a rad video player. Doesn't have the slick built-in hardware accelerated video playing that WMP 12 does but the interface and options are tons better.
    Notepad2 is so much better than Notepad++. Replace the built-in notepad app with this and it's happy times.

    RandomEngy on
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  • AzioAzio Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Internets
    Google Chrome - hands down the fastest and most attractive web browser on Windows today
    Steam - this is PC gaming
    Windows Live Essentials - Mail, Messenger and Photo Gallery are must-haves
    uTorrent - torrent program

    Video
    Combined Community Codec Pack - everything you need for playing videos
    MKVToolNix - for creating, unpacking, and modifying those pesky .mkv files

    Music
    Foobar2000 - highly customizable music software, pretty much the only decent one on the Windows platform today
    Exact Audio Copy - for ripping CDs
    Free Lossless Audio Codec - lossless audio encoding & decoding
    MP3Gain - makes all your MP3s the same volume
    MP3Tag - batch tagger

    Dev
    Visual Studio Express Editions - for coding
    Eclipse - Java coding

    Utilities
    Avast! Home - the best free anti-virus client
    Virtual CloneDrive - mount .iso files
    Process Explorer - see what's running
    Dropbox - for sharing files between your machines

    Azio on
  • CronusCronus Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Backup: Synctoy. Barebones, free MS backup.

    Browsing: It's been mentioned before, but Firefox. Though IE8 is surprisingly good, but it feels a bit slower than Firefox.

    Coding: Visual Studio. Express is good for hobbyists. If you are a college student check with you're school as you can probably get the full version for free.

    Media: VLC Will play almost anything.

    IM: Trillian IM client for AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, and IRC. A bit old now, but still my favorite.

    Traffic: Traffic Gadget It's so helpful having the traffic for all the major highways near me right on my desktop. It uses bing maps and overlays colors onto the roads to show the speed of traffic.
    I'd recommend many of the others listed here as well.

    Cronus on
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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Opera, WinDirStat, Pidgin, TClock, foobar2000, 7zip, Foxit Reader, Process Explorer.

    Lots of other good suggestions flying around, but this one seems like it could get lost in the shuffle. Fantastic app that allows you to see (graphically) where all your hard drive space is going (including color coding by file type and geometric organization by tree structure).

    It's usually that giant square in the middle representing your porn collection.

    You may be familiar with either the OSX or Linux versions (which use the same underlying concept), this be the Windows hotness.

    mcdermott on
  • ZellZell Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Audio
    Exact Audio Copy: This is more or less your only choice for ripping audio CDs.

    foobar2000: Don't even consider any other audio player. Very customizable, lots of features, support of third party components for even more features and very lightweight. If you find foobar2000 confusing in some way, ask for help. If that fails musikCube is a nice and less complicated media player.

    Mp3tag: Simple MP3 tagger for adding album art to id3, foobar2000 can do most other tagging and renaming.

    Video
    HandBrake: Very user friendly video encoding program, you'll need to decrypt DVDs first with some other program. Soft subtitle support and DTS support is supposed to be coming in the next version.

    Media Player Classic Homecinema: Biggest advantage over the more feature rich and user friendly VLC is the customizable mouse shortcuts. I also recommend you get ffdshow tryouts and Haali Media Splitter, but they're optional. CoreAVC might be worth it if you have lot of really high quality x264 files. Don't bother with codec packs, they're not needed.

    MKVToolnix: Pretty much essential for modifying MKV files. Adding/removing subtitles, chapters, audio streams and video streams.

    Internet
    Opera: Web browser with lots of features and a very good default interface. To less experienced computer users I would always recommend this over Firefox. If you know what you're doing I would recommend installing both and seeing which you like better, they both have features the other can't offer.

    Miranda IM: Very customizable IM/IRC client, not so good default settings and a very confusing options window though. Your only choice if you want a really pretty or really minimalistic IM client. If you don't care about that Pidgin is a good choice.

    uTorrent: The best BitTorrent client available, but it has awful queue management
    File viewers
    Irfanview: Lightweight image viewer, somewhat customizable, allows you to do simple image editing (filters, cropping, resizing, canvas resizing).

    Sumatra PDF viewer: Pretty much the best PDF viewer.

    WinRAR: For decompressing and compressing files, somewhat expensive but worth it (unless you actually use 7z for compression in which case go with 7-Zip).
    Other
    Pitaschio: Lots of weird, but nice features. I use it to customize what right clicking and middle clicking window title bars does (so nice closing and minimizing windows that way without trying to hit those small buttons), make windows snap together and send scroll wheel input to the window under the mouse without giving it focus. That's just the features I find useful, it can do lots of other stuff.

    ShellExView: Gives you a list of all shell extensions and allows you to disable the ones you don't want. Useful if you find your context menus are getting very large for no good reason.

    SuperCopier: TeraCopy is mostly recommended but I prefer SuperCopier's interface and it integrates better into explorer (it replaces the default move and copy context menu commands rather than adding new ones). I also think it has some queue management the free version of TeraCopy doesn't have.

    Taskbar Shuffle: Allows you to middleclick taskbar items to close them, like you middleclick tabs in your browser. It also allows you to rearrange taskbar and system tray icons, which seems pretty useless to me.

    Tclock2: Taskbar customization program, lots of interesting features. I use it to make the clock text bigger and show seconds, as well as making left clicking it open a calendar. If all you want is to show the date in a single line taskbar and get a single click calendar, WinCalendarTime is very nice.

    Tweak UI: Let's you modify some hidden Windows settings.


    Hmm that post became a bit long and confusing, but those are my recommendations for Windows XP, what doesn't work in Vista and Windows 7 should be somewhat obvious. Anyone have recommendations for image viewers, torrent clients, subtitle editors or dvd decrypters?

    Zell on
  • RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Azio wrote: »
    Foobar2000 - highly customizable music software, pretty much the only decent one on the Windows platform today
    Zell wrote: »
    foobar2000: Don't even consider any other audio player.

    Oh please. I've tried it and I like MediaMonkey better. I'm sure foobar has features that you like but it is not hands down the best like you're claiming.

    RandomEngy on
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  • ZellZell Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    RandomEngy wrote: »
    Azio wrote: »
    Foobar2000 - highly customizable music software, pretty much the only decent one on the Windows platform today
    Zell wrote: »
    foobar2000: Don't even consider any other audio player.

    Oh please. I've tried it and I like MediaMonkey better. I'm sure foobar has features that you like but it is not hands down the best like you're claiming.
    What exactly does MediaMonkey do that foobar2000 can't?

    Zell on
  • Shorn Scrotum ManShorn Scrotum Man Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I really liked MediaMonkey, but then they patched in an upgrade that meant I would have to purchase it again and foobar2000 was free. So yeah.

    Shorn Scrotum Man on
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  • elliotw2elliotw2 Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Am I the only one who hates Google Chrome, for being exactly like Firefox, if only slightly shinier. (I still hate the "pane of glass with stuff on it look" that all of these new programs and Vista/7 have on them)

    elliotw2 on
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  • Shorn Scrotum ManShorn Scrotum Man Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I love Chrome. Firefox is good, but feels bloated these days (and that's BEFORE adding my favorite extensions).

    Shorn Scrotum Man on
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  • CyvrosCyvros Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    A month or two ago, I'd have recommended Songbird, but it gets slower and slower with each release. I've gone back to foobar now, with no regrets.
    RandomEngy wrote: »
    Notepad2 is so much better than Notepad++. Replace the built-in notepad app with this and it's happy times.
    Eh, Notepad2 lacks tabs.

    Cyvros on
  • elliotw2elliotw2 Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    For a Browser, again, Seamonkey is like Firefox, but not as bloated despite having Thunderbird and chatzilla built in

    elliotw2 on
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  • Shorn Scrotum ManShorn Scrotum Man Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    As for IM clients... I've been using Digsby. I downloaded Miranda IM tonight since it was recommended so many times in this thread. Dear jesus is it hard to customize. Downloading all these skins and plugins and icons and none of them seem to have any instructions at all.

    I think the people who make addons for Miranda must hate users or something.

    Shorn Scrotum Man on
    steam_sig.png
  • JobastionJobastion Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    mcdermott wrote: »
    Opera, WinDirStat, Pidgin, TClock, foobar2000, 7zip, Foxit Reader, Process Explorer.

    Lots of other good suggestions flying around, but this one seems like it could get lost in the shuffle. Fantastic app that allows you to see (graphically) where all your hard drive space is going (including color coding by file type and geometric organization by tree structure).

    It's [strike]usually[/strike] ALWAYS that giant square in the middle representing your porn collection.

    You may be familiar with either the OSX or Linux versions (which use the same underlying concept), this be the Windows hotness.
    And I third the motion of this software being hot stuff.

    Jobastion on
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  • RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Zell wrote: »
    RandomEngy wrote: »
    Azio wrote: »
    Foobar2000 - highly customizable music software, pretty much the only decent one on the Windows platform today
    Zell wrote: »
    foobar2000: Don't even consider any other audio player.

    Oh please. I've tried it and I like MediaMonkey better. I'm sure foobar has features that you like but it is not hands down the best like you're claiming.
    What exactly does MediaMonkey do that foobar2000 can't?

    Out of box sync to portable MP3 players, ability to rate songs, smart playlists, an album art panel that shows embedded art for the currently playing song (and ignores file-based art), ability to apply a skin with the drop of a single file, ability to delete MP3s from the player, easy access to currently playing song in shuffle mode. Last time I tried to get foobar to do all that it was like going through hell and I never got it the way I wanted it.

    I'm trying it again and am not to impressed. The UI has taken a step forward, but it's still rather confused. MediaMonkey has a left folder-structure that shows all playlists, and the ability to search by artist/album/mood/rating/whatever, then a main "results" area that shows the items in each selected node in the tree view, or results for a search. In foobar, everything is its own panel, nothing really works together or re-uses space intelligently. The one thing I like better about foobar is the "Add to Playback Queue" option.

    RandomEngy on
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  • ZellZell Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Those are more or less all features supported by foobar2000 and I never claimed it was user friendly, but if you can get past that, I still say there's nothing wrong about my post stating there's simply no alternative.

    Zell on
  • DarmakDarmak RAGE vympyvvhyc vyctyvyRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    RandomEngy wrote: »
    Zell wrote: »
    RandomEngy wrote: »
    Azio wrote: »
    Foobar2000 - highly customizable music software, pretty much the only decent one on the Windows platform today
    Zell wrote: »
    foobar2000: Don't even consider any other audio player.

    Oh please. I've tried it and I like MediaMonkey better. I'm sure foobar has features that you like but it is not hands down the best like you're claiming.
    What exactly does MediaMonkey do that foobar2000 can't?

    Out of box sync to portable MP3 players, ability to rate songs, smart playlists, an album art panel that shows embedded art for the currently playing song (and ignores file-based art), ability to apply a skin with the drop of a single file, ability to delete MP3s from the player, easy access to currently playing song in shuffle mode. Last time I tried to get foobar to do all that it was like going through hell and I never got it the way I wanted it.

    I'm trying it again and am not to impressed. The UI has taken a step forward, but it's still rather confused. MediaMonkey has a left folder-structure that shows all playlists, and the ability to search by artist/album/mood/rating/whatever, then a main "results" area that shows the items in each selected node in the tree view, or results for a search. In foobar, everything is its own panel, nothing really works together or re-uses space intelligently. The one thing I like better about foobar is the "Add to Playback Queue" option.

    I wonder if there's a music player that doesn't have all that useless shit, it just plays music.

    Darmak on
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