Free Windows Software That I Recommend

As of 2014-07-26

The following is free software that I use on Windows 7 at home. All also run on Windows XP. For other versions of Windows, please check the documentation on the appropriate Web site.

Despite being free, these packages are not in the public domain and each comes with license conditions.

Software for All Users:

Web Browser
The browser I use everyday is Firefox which I use on Windows and Linux. I also like Opera.

E-mail Client
An e-mail client is a fairly simple program and there are many good ones (even Microsoft's Outlook Express is minimally acceptable). I now use Thunderbird except at work where they won't let me. Its spam filter is very good.

File Erasure
When you delete a file, its contents remain on the hard disk. Fairly simple tools can recover this data. Sensitive files should be erased by a program specially written for this purpose. Eraser is easy to use and will ensure that a scientist with an electron microscope will be unable to recover your deleted files.

Clock Accuracy
If you want your system clock to be accurate, Atomic Clock Sync can do this either automatically or whenever you run it manually. It is a very easy program to install and use.

Password Database
I have more user-ids and passwords than I can remember. So I store them in a KeePass database which uses strong encryption and is controlled by a single master password.

Portable Document Format (PDF) Reader
Adobe's free Acrobat Reader is large and slow. I've been much happier with Foxit Reader for Windows.

Rather than pay for PKZIP or WinZip, you can use 7-Zip which supports several compression algorithms and includes strong encryption.

I'm not a computer game player but I do occasionally play chess against GNU Chess for Windows.

Software for Programmers:

Programming Language
Unlike Unix/Linux systems, Windows does not ship with many useful programming languages. For scripting and general-purpose programming, I like Python. It's an interpreted, object-oriented language with simple syntax and a large collection of standard libraries. It's elegant and reliable, and is simple enough for a beginner but rich enough for a pro. I use Active State's ActivePython on Windows.

Text Editor
Notepad and WordPad, the text editors that are shipped with Windows, have almost no features. There are many excellent commercial text editors (I like TextPad) but Notepad2 or, if you want more features, Notepad++ are just as good.