In my line of work in the IT field, I install Windows and similar operating system on a regular basis and I actually enjoy doing that. There's something about seeing a PC boots up and comes to life for the first time with a new operating system installed. The question is where do we go from here? What software or apps that you regularly install on your newly assembled PC? Here's some of my must-have and favorite apps.
7-Zip is an open source compression utility similar to WinZip and WinRAR. The only difference is it's open source which comes high on my preference list. It can unzip major compression formats like ZIP, RAR, TAR, UDF, ISO, CAB, DEB and their very own 7z format.
Before there was Google Chrome, Firefox used to be my preferred web-browser. Then it got bloated and heavy and slow and when the uber-fast Chrome came out it quickly became my first choice. For an app that I spent 60% on my time on, it has to be the best. Google Chrome is the best browser you get on the market.
In the era of tree-huggers, PETA and eco-everything who prints documents anymore? Well, a lot of people still do but unless you really have to, there's always doPDF to convert all your documents into PDF format. It's free, doesn't nag you to buy the full version and support virtually every file format that you can send to the printer.
When it comes to cloud storage, Dropbox has always been my personal favorite from day one. It's fast, secure and reliable despite the meagre 5GB starting space. And thanks to it's cool referral program, I've earned 18.4GB of cloud storage space over the years. My second favorite cloud storage provider should be Microsoft's SkyDrive with it's massive 25GB storage space and now, desktop syncing.
Whether you're a budding visual artist, web designer or photographer, Adobe's Photoshop should be the first software that comes to mine for graphic manipulation. However Photoshop would usually cost you an arm and a leg so, for a cheaper alternative that costs literally free, GIMP is a designer's best friend. It can do almost everything Photoshop can including the numerous filters. Did I mention it's open source and works on PC, Mac & Linux?
Usually Windows' built in file burner is good enough for your document or music burning needs. But if you need something extra, there's always ImgBurn which can do what most popular paid CD-burning apps can, for free.
MagicDisc is a virtual CD/DVD manager which allows you to mount any ISO image on your computer. This app is especially useful if your PC or laptop doesn't have an optical drive (or is damaged) or you just simply like to mount an ISO image quickly.
Windows PC needs a good antivirus software like fish needs water. That said, you can stop buying another paid antivirus software since Microsoft's very own Security Essentials is good enough to protect your Windows box. That said, if your Windows is somehow not genuine (gasp!), Panda's Cloud antivirus is another lightweight and good antivirus program.
I bet many of you didn't know that Microsoft actually has a free version of their Office productivity suite. As much as that is hard to believe, they do and it's called Office 2010 Starter. The only caveat is, this office version comes with limited functionality and it is ad-supported. As far as I know there's no way to remove those ads on the right-hand pane so you'll just have to deal with it. Office 2010 Starter is bundled with Word 2010 Starter, Excel 2010 Starter and PowerPoint 2010 Viewer. If you need to create some basic document or spreadsheet, the free Office 2010 Starter should get the job done for you. For a truly free & open source productivity suite though I would recommend LibreOffice.
OmmWriter is a must have app for writers or blogger like me. It is a simple and minimalist writing app that removes clutter and all other distractions so that you can focus solely on your work. OmmWriter has a free version for both Mac & PC.
Another app that I always install with new PCs is TeraCopy. Like its namesake, TeraCopy makes copying files and folders so much faster and efficient. You can skip files during copying and for really large copying session, you can set the app to shutdown your PC after it's done.
Unlocker helps to you to avoid those WTF moments when you wanted to delete a file or folder so much but you just can't because some evil process is holding on to that file for dear life.
If there's one multimedia player that you need to install on your PC, Mac or Linux machine, it's VLC media player. It plays just about any kind of format thrown at it and it comes with numerous little features that makes your movie watching experience so much better.
Although VLC media player can play any mp3 file just fine, I still prefer Winamp whenever I'd like to listen to my music collection. I guess after more than a decade of using this app, old habits die hard. Just remember to customize your installation and skip all the useless ad-ons & toolbars.
XMedia Recode is an extremely useful app for all you smartphone and tablet users out there. It can convert multimedia format from one type to another according to the device type and make such as Apple, Samsung, HTC and much-much more. Forget about the others, XMedia Recode is just what you need. For your sanity, Google XMedia Recode and translate the site to English first before entering.
So there you have it, some of the apps that I usually install on my PC and other people's machine whenever I format the hard drive. Of course different people has different needs but for me, these are the apps that I can't live without. If you noticed, all of the software that I list here is either open source or free so this should be useful if you'd like to use strictly legal apps on your PC. Who knows when the auditors might come, right? Cheers!