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Gallery: Free and essential Windows apps

Make the most of your computer without spending a dime. These dozen must-have applications for Windows are all free.
By George Ou, Contributor on
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Make the most of your computer without spending a dime. These dozen must-have applications for Windows are all free.
uTorrent, the BitTorrent client, is a must-have for anyone who wants an effective file sharing application that allows you to download large files.
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.
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Skype is another killer-app for the modern personal computer. If you haven’t already heard of it and installed it, go get it. It’s the first and one of the few VoIP applications on the market that "just works".
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.
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Paint.NET is just a nice free replacement for Windows Paint. It requires .Net Framework 2.0 but that’s included in Windows Vista. For a managed programming language, it’s not that bloated and loads relatively quickly.
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.
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If you don’t have a Nero for your CD or DVD burner or some other burner application, Infra recorder is a good free alternative. Not only that, it’s a lot less bloated and it has a small memory foot print.
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.
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For anyone who wants to take their movies on the go or backup their DVDs to a smaller format, Dr. Divx is an excellent free solution. Unlike the commercial Divx encoder (which I bought and can’t use), Dr. Divx actually works in Windows Vista.
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.
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FastStone Photo Resizer is an absolute killer application for anyone who deals with images. It can batch resize, rename, and convert images of all formats and sizes.
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.
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If you are the kind of person who likes to download videos (especially from questionable sources promising adult content) and you don’t want to end up with malware, K-Lite Mega Codec pack plus QuickTime Alternative is for you. This is CRITICAL security advice that everyone needs to know about.
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.
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As good as the built in CAB and ZIP utility is in Windows XP and Vista, it isn’t enough because you need compatibility with all the other compression formats out there. IZArc will open any compression format under the sun and it’s free, unlike a lot of other utilities on the Internet.
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.
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CCleanerstands for Crap Cleaner. It is a great registry cleaner and temp file cleaner.
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.
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Autoruns is an essential tool from Sysinternals (now owned by Microsoft) in the war against crapware.
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.
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Process Explorer is another essential tool from Sysinternals for diagnosing computer problems and finding potential malware on your computer.
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.
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For me, the only good anti-virus application is no anti-virus -- but I realize that most consumers need some kind of protection from the hostile Internet and often themselves. So a really nice compromise is AVG Antivirus Free Edition which has a really small footprint and doesn’t slow your computer down to the point where your dual-core PC feels like an 80286 computer circa 1982.
Please see George Ou's blog for details on free and essential apps for Windows.

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