Seven great (and free!) applications for Windows 7

Seven great (and free!) applications for Windows 7

Summary: An OS isn't much without software to take advantage of it. If you've just got yourself a copy of Windows 7 (by paying full price for it or by being canny) then you'll be looking for cool, useful, and above all, compatible software to install. Look for further!


An OS isn't much without software to take advantage of it. If you've just got yourself a copy of Windows 7 (by paying full price for it or by being canny) then you'll be looking for cool, useful, and above all, compatible software to install. Look for further!

Here's a top 7 list of what I consider to be Windows 7 "must have" software. Not only are these applications compatible with Microsoft's newest OS, but there's also all free!

Web Browser: Mozilla Firefox

Regular readers will know that Firefox isn't my personal favorite browser (it's Google Chrome) but that doesn't prevent me from wholeheartedly recommending Firefox to others.

Why? Because it's a darn good browser. It's fast, it's robust, it's reliable and if it doesn't do something you want it to do, chances are there's an add-on for that. 

And what better time to recommend Firefox, given that this month sees it celebrate its fifth birthday!

>> Learn more <<

Media Player: VideoLAN VLC Player

There's nothing more annoying than coming across a video of sound file and not being able to play it without messing about with codecs. Rather than stick with the built-in Windows Media Player I prefer to download and install something a little more versatile, like VLC Player.

VLC media player is a highly portable media player capable of reading most audio and video formats (MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, DivX, MPEG-1, mp3, ogg, aac ...) as well as DVDs, Audio CDs VCDs, plus it offers support for  a variety of streaming protocols.

VLC Player is a great bit of kit that I can't recommend highly enough.

>> Learn more <<

Email Client: Mozilla Thunderbird

Windows 7 doesn't come with a built-in email client. Microsoft does make available a free email client called Windows Live Mail, which you have to download. But since you're having to download an application, you might as well download something more versatile.

Thunderbird, by the makers of Firefox, is a fully-featured desktop email client that offers a whole raft of tools to help you control your inbox.

>> Learn more <<

Next -->

File Compression: 7-Zip

Windows does a pretty good job of handling Zip files. The OS has had support for making and opening .zip files since Windows ME (in fact, this support was one of the highlights of that particular OS) but the support is both basic and limited. If you handle more than the occasional compressed file you need a better application.

Enter 7-Zip. This app is a fully-featured compression tool that not only handles common compressed files such as .zip and .tar but also more exotic formats such as .cab and .lzh. What's more, 7-Zip can also allow you to look inside and extract files from .iso disc images too - a really handy feature for the power user!

>> Learn more <<

Disc Burning: CDBurnerXP

Why mess about with limited disc burning software when you can get a fully-featured program for free.

Don't let the name fool you, CDBurnerXP doesn't just burn CDs (it does DVDs, Blu-ray and HD-DVD too) and doesn't just work on XP (it works on Windows 2000, 2003 Server, Vista and 7 too).

CDBurnerXP can also do some cool tricks, such as burn and create .iso files, create bootable discs and inter-convert different image file formats.

>> Learn more <<

Data Encryption: TrueCrypt

While the more expensive Windows 7 editions come with the BitLocker encryption tool, there are tools out there that can offer you strong, cross-platform security ... for free.

TrueCrypt is a free, open-source disk encryption application that works with Windows 7/Vista/XP as well as Mac OS X and Linux and offers the user a myriad of ways to protect data. Using TrueCrypt you can protect whole partitions, USB flash drives, and even create hidden volumes and operating systems for the ultimate in deniability.

Excellent software. Highly recommended.

>> Learn more <<

Virtual Machines: Windows Virtual PC

Why be limited to running one PC when software allows you to turn a single PC into many.

While there are commercial tools out there that allow you to create and work with virtual machines, Windows Virtual PC is a great way for those who want to make occasional use of virtual PCs.

Windows Virtual PC is a really nice tool that offers advanced features such as USB support and printer redirection. Also, you're not limited to running Windows, as it supports Linux too.

>> Learn more <<

Bonus Application: Microsoft Security Essentials

Now that Microsoft has a free antivirus solution, there's no need for anyone (other than those running pirated copies of Windows ...) not to have antivirus.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a great product for those people who want an antivirus solution that just works in the background. It's also great for those wanting a free solution without all the hassle of nag screens and updates.

>> Learn more <<

<< Home >>

Topics: Software, Browser, CXO, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

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  • You added Windows 7 to the title for page hits...

    Any tech enthusiast worth their salt has long known about all these apps.
    • Nah ...

      ... for page hits I'd have added XP ... bigger user base ...
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • User base yes but Windows 7

        is what everyone is interested in reading about. But still a good article to remind those that believe its a Windows only world that there are good free software out there, and you are more likely to get people reading about it if you attach Windows 7 to it. That's (part) of what journalism is about; getting the attention of the readers with the title such as "kitten thinks of nothing but murder all day".

        Viva la crank dodo
      • You sure, not even a little bit? ;)

        W7 does have the bigger buzz base...
        • That's his expertise

          Windows 7 this and Windows 7 that. And OS wars. And Apple vs Microsoft wars.
      • Adrian... aside from... being "7" Great and Free apps, I'm kinda surprised you left out's Office Suite. I've used OO.O for months with the Free RC of Windows 7 with no snags whatsoever. In fact, using the Windows 7 RC (free!) I could build an entirely usable, fully featured desktop system for nothing more than hardware. Of course, using my Intel Atom MSI WindPC as the base of that system, I'd have less than $200 wrapped up in it, software and all. Yes, I still would have to eventually purchase a license - which I'm dreading - but still, even after paying for the OS I'm saving hundreds or more on fully free software.

        Of course, much as I'm pleased with how 7 has turned out and how just shy of flawless it has been thus far, I just can't see shelling out that much money for an OS. I like Linux like that.

        But, I still have valid licenses for XP Pro, so I'll go back once 7 "breaks." Been fun!

  • Paint.NET is another great app as well

    Now with Windows 7 support!
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • VirtualBox is better than VirtualPC, but...

    ...KVM on Linux is a Type 1 hypervisor and the best solution coupled with Virt-Manager.

    Trust me, a machine equipped with Intel-VT or AMD-V bios support flies with XP running on KVM.

    Reports have that kvm bare-metal efficency approaches 96% of speed as if XP were installed natively.

    And Utilization is low. This makes kvm a contender for replacing VMware ESX in big iron farms.

    That's k-v-m Windows Folks, included in the Linux Kernel at no extra cost to you.

    I'll let that sink in....;)
    D T Schmitz
    • re: don't bother

      Unless the Windows ad bots here that they
      can spend $$$$$ on licenses they don't care.

      Linux distro's are superior, however don't let
      the Windows ads get in your way!

      The tide is turning, VMware is based of a Linux
      distro and it is not Windows based.

      However, to Windows ad promoters nothing is
      good enough.
      • plain English please....

        Not to get too personal, but do you guys have life outside of Linux?
    • But what you don't get...

      With VirtualBox you don't get your free and legal copy of XP.

      Until somebody comes up with a solution for virtualizing the graphics hardware, the talk about hyper-visors and VMs is meaningless to the general public. Give me that solution, and we're completely untethered from the OS and specific hardware.

      Like that will ever happen.

      How GPUs work is still <i>Top Secret</i> tech. Perhaps Larrabee will change some of that, but I'm not holding my breath. Intel has a few legal hurdles to clear yet, as well as overcoming some technical barriers.
      • WARP, VirtualBox

        "Until somebody comes up with a solution for
        virtualizing the graphics hardware"

        Actually - Microsoft has, it's called WARP.

        Unfortunately, software rasterizers are slow,
        and this is no exception. Even with a cutting
        edge CPU, don't expect anything that will
        compete with a decent GPU. It's just not

        Also, Sun's VirtualBox has recently added 3D
        acceleration support - probably done by
        accessing the host machine's DirectX or OpenGL
        library, allowing the guest to use the host's

        "How GPUs work is still Top Secret tech"

        Yes and no. Ad the very low levels that may be
        true. But - at the high level, all you really
        need is DirectX or OpenGL support, as the host
        OS is very likely to understand one of those.

        "the talk about hyper-visors and VMs is
        meaningless to the general public"

        That part is generally true. But that's not
        just because of graphics. It's because most
        people aren't running big server farms. Even
        the most demanding home user generally doesn't
        need enterprise level VMs. Something like
        Virtual PC and VirtualBox work fine for home
    • No need to let that sink in

      While you are here with your usual sales pitch, the rest of us are steps ahead.

      Getting things done.

      Too bad for you :)
  • RE: Seven great (and free!) applications for Windows 7

    That's all well and good, and I run a couple of distro's myself but the topic at hand is not "teh awesume is *nix!". The topic at hand is Windows 7 freebies that excel and since I am not a one-trick pony, such as yourself, I can capably comment on both Windows and *nix without trying to derail the topic at hand.

    And in this particular case Adrian is citing VPC for Windows and I am curious why he picked that over the also free VirtualBox from Sun.

    What did you say before? Oh yes, "Thanks for playing", but you can move along troll.
    • That was a reply to DT Schmitz and bots on my question earlier. (n/t)

      "n/t" still means "no text" right?
  • VLC? Not so much...

    Installing VLC re-writes many of the systems codecs and file associations. For VLC thats a good thing, for other (not just WMP) applications using video its a horrible solution.
    • Solution to this would be to

      use VLC Portable:

    • Get a Mac

      No such trouble with VLC on a Mac.
      • You pour soul

        You enjoy your Mac.
      • Honestly, I haven't Noticed Ax's Issue on ANY Version of VLC

        I've got it running on WinXP, Win 7, OSX 10.6, Ubuntu, and whatever shell of Xandros is running on my wife's EEE PC - and while it likes to take over like every new app under Windoze does, I can still use Windoze Media Player if, to paraphrase Coultergeist, I really WANTED to....