The wonderful world of FREE Windows 7 applications.

I know I said last week that I would be covering Microsoft’s Courier dual screen booklet OR How an organisation can leverage IT to create competitive advantage and I promise that I will cover these in the near future. As you know, recently, I wrote a blog on Houston, Windows is counting down 10,9,8,7 and as I became aware of applications that are either free/considerably lower cost than their mainstream rivals, I decided to cover them now, rather than later. That way, readers can be equipped with the knowledge that there are more FREE/ Cost effective versions for usage with Windows 7.

The following software is usually free (utilises the GNU LGPL or equivalent licence) and/or open source. The distinction between free and open source software can sometimes be quite blurry and I would urge users, especially, organisations of any size to check the licensing terms for usage. Some software may seem free but many software applications can sometimes expect the users to pay a token amount for usage of the software (seems fair, after all they developed it). These applications will mostly be completely free for private users and for organisations will cost considerably less, if they aren’t free.

The first area that everyone, regardless of whether they are office users or private individuals, need to address once they have bought Windows 7 are applications that they rely on to do their everyday job:

Desktop applications:

  1. OpenOffice (Free GNU LGPL Licence). This is a free equivalent to Microsoft (MS) Office, offered by Oracle and offers word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It started life as StarOffice in 1999 and is quite a mature product now that allows documents to be saved in MS formats.
  2. Firefox web browsing, software is provided by Mozilla and again is an established provider with a mature product.
  3. An alternative to MS Outlook (email/contacts/calendar) is Mozilla’s colurful offering, Sunbird.
  4. There are a variety of free email offerings but I will recommend, GoogleMail.
  5. For free PDF readers, use Adobe or Foxit FREE Readers.
  6. For times when you need to reduce the size of documents and bundle them together, for example, for emailing, use   7-Zip (WinZip/WinRaR equivalent)
  7. CD burning can be accomplished by CDBurningXP .
  8. Home movie and photo slideshows can be created well with, DVD Flick .
  9. For equivalent to Google Earth/Maps and MS Bing maps platform, use Marble
  10. You can even store your documents online and retrieve them from anywhere in the world, courtesy of MS Skydrive

Desktop (Graphical) applications:

  1. At the top, I have to place GIMP (Photoshop/PaintShop Pro equivalent). No matter where I have gone on the Internet, the reviews for this application have always been outstanding, again, a mature product and one of the best.
  2. Vector graphics applications can be created with the assistance of, Inkscape.
  3. For 3D graphics, Blender is a good alternative to applications such as AutoCAD.
  4. For diagram creation use the tool, DIA (MS Visio equivalent).
  5. For multimedia player equivalents to Windows media/Real’s Real players use, SM Player or VLC Media players.

Computer Security:

Windows 7, just as Vista, provides free spyware in the form of Windows Defender and a pretty good firewall, Windows Firewall. Essentially, this means that your computer should be well protected. That just leaves the question of, which Anti Virus (AV) package should I install?

  1. I use Avast and I rate it as the best free AV package out there currently. I have tested this piece of wonderful AV software and it has always delivered. I even managed to rid a few computers of viruses that I couldn’t eradicate even with the established players and the free providers in general.
  2. AVG Free gets a lot of attention in the press but it failed my tests of getting rid of viruses, so I will still mention it as it gets pretty good reviews elsewhere.
  3. A new one that I have come across is Avira. It is relatively a newcomer but seems good for the job.
  4. Microsoft has also jumped on the free Anti Virus bandwagon, as part of its security essentials.

Communications:

  1. Free VOIP communications including teleconferencing is available via Skype .
  2. Chatting can be enabled via XChat and Pidgin (Allows to integrate the popular ones into it, such as MSN, Yahoo and others).
  3. Instant messaging, including twitter, is available by using AIM
  4. For web conferencing (see David vs. Goliath clash on web communications technologies), use Dimdim , Yugma or Ekiga .

Entertainment:

  1. If you wanted a way of listening (legally) to music without paying for it, head to Spotify. The only thing that you can’t do is to download it to your hard drive.
  2. For TV channel viewing, use the various channel players, such as, BBC , ITV , Channel4 , Five and Sky.
  3. Free encyclopaedia, if you don’t know already is available from Wikipedia.
  4. How about some free books?

Sources of information:

  1. Open source freebies for Windows 7 – ComputerWeekly, 17-23/11/09.
  2. Set yourself free – Which? Computing, November 2009.

About mubbisherahmed
I am passionate about IT and its ability to deliver cost effective, value for money solutions that can enhance performance and in many cases provide competitive advantage by using a range of solutions and approaches in innovative ways.

2 Responses to The wonderful world of FREE Windows 7 applications.

  1. mubbisherahmed says:

    Steven Stern, Strategic Information Technology Management, a fellow member on a social media site said:

    I wish I could like OpenOffice. I use it daily on my Linux machines, but it looks “old” and has issues with getting on screen fonts. It may be that the next version, soon to come out of beta, will solve those issues, but it’s not there yet.

    Thunderbird is my preferred email client if I’m not talking to an Exchange server.

    I replied:

    Your comment is invaluable as I haven’t used OpenOffice/Thunderbird and I am sure that this info will be useful to other people who read the blog as well.

    I suppose that Oracle isn’t really bothered to make any significant investment into OpenOffice as it is a free offering. I am actually surprised that they haven’t started charging for it yet!

    I’ll add your comment to my blog so it is of use to others as well, unless you have any objections.

  2. George Sagen says:

    In addition to GIMP for photo editing and drawing, I like Paint.NET, available for free download at http://www.getpaint.net/download.html

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