- Mozilla Firefox – a fast, open source, secure, and extendable browser from Mozilla. Offers a number of features over Internet Explorer, including Smart Location Bar, Places Manager, and a rich database of extensions.
- Opera – Feature-rich browser. Includes email client, BitTorrent downloads, Speed Dial (page with quick access to favorite websites), and mouse gestures.
- Safari – Ported from Mac OSX, Apple brings Safari to Windows. Features private browsing and other enhancements.
- OpenOffice – a Java based office suite with features that rival the commercial Microsoft Office, and is compatible with Microsoftâ€™s own formats.
- AbiWord – Word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. While it does not include all the applications of OpenOffice, it can serve as a replacement for Wordpad.
- Notepad++ – a feature-rich text editor. Features syntax highlighting, function completion, tabs, and a plethora of other capabilities.
- Notepad2 – While not as feature-rich as Notepad++, it offers a simple replacement for Notepad with syntax highlighting.
- Power Calculator (XP only) – Microsoft offers a free more powerful alternative to the built in Calculator.
- CygWin – CygWin emulates the Linux shell for Windows, allowing you to work with a more powerful command line.
Built In Unzipping Utility
- 7-Zip – Supports a number of formats, including RAR, ZIP, TAR, and 7z; can also generate a self extracting archive.
- TUGZip – Supports a wide range of formats and can create a self extracting archive.
Windows Media Player
- foobar2000 – While only audio, supports a wide range of formats without plugins, and has low memory usage and is extremely customizable.
- iTunes – Media player from Apple. Provides access to the iTunes Music Store (although not recommended as it bundles DRM with songs).
- Songbird – In alpha stage, integrates well with music websites. Supports syncing to other devices.
- VLC Media Player – Does not have a library feature, but plays almost any media format.
- Miro – Video only, features RSS downloading, BitTorrent, and support for video websites such as YouTube.
Windows Media Center
- XBMC for Windows – Supports a large number of formats and is skinnable.
- Elisa – Provides support for a large number of media formats, external devices, auto detection of media on the network, and basic Internet integration.
- GIMP – Advanced image editor with functionality similar to Adobe Photoshop.
- Paint.NET – While not as advanced as GIMP, Paint.NET provides a large feature set, including support for layers and unlimited undo.
- Google Desktop Search – Allows you to search the computer and Internet history in an interface similar to Google Web Search. Also provides a sidebar and quick launch utility.
- Copernic Desktop Search – Provides an intuitive UI for searching and claims to be light on resources.
- Revo Uninstaller – Powerful uninstaller that attempts to remove all traces of a program when uninstalling.
- CCleaner – Searches system for unneeded files and cleans them. Also has a registry cleaner, start up manager, and minimalistic Add/Remove Programs interface.
- TightVNC – TightVNC sets up a server on the computer you want to control, and client software on the controlling computer. Offers a number of features over Remote Desktop.
- UltraVNC – Like TightVNC, with support for a Java viewer, text chat, and encryption.
- TeamViewer – Quick setup, with support for both Windows and Mac. Has file transfer; no firewall setting changes needed.
Windows Photo Gallery / Windows Picture and Fax Viewer
- Windows Live Photo Gallery – Microsoft provides an enhanced version of Windows Photo Gallery free, as part of the Windows Live suite. Provides photo library tools.
- IrfanView – Light image viewer with a wide range of features, including image manipulation and conversion.
- XnView – Another light image viewer with a wide range of features. Image manipulation, conversion, and meta data editing are a few features.
Windows Movie Maker
- Jahshaka – Offers much more functionality than Windows Movie Maker. Open source.
- LiVES – Not available for Windows natively, but can boot from a Live CD. Has a greater feature set than Windows Movie Maker.
- Windows Live Messenger – Offers more functionality (and bloat) than Windows Messenger. Supports only the MSN protocol, with some integration with Yahoo.
- Pidgin – Supports a wide range of protocols, including Yahoo!, MSN, IRC, AIM, Google Talk, Jabber, and others. Extendable with plugins.
- Digsby – Supports a wide range of protocols as Pidgin does, and also features integration with social media such as Facebook.
- Miranda IM – Light messenger with support for a wide range of protocols. Highly extendable.
- Yahoo! Messenger – Offers some integration with the MSN protocol. Mainly supports the Yahoo! protocol.
- xplorer2 – Offers a wide range of features over Windows Explorer, including dual pane and tabbed browsing.
- Free Commander – Offers tabbed browsing, dual pane, file wiping, and MD5 checksum abilities.
- AutoPatcher – Allows you to download necessary update files and apply them when offline.
- Project Dakota – Lets you download a CD ISO file with all the updates
- MakeUseOf provides a couple other ways to get your Windows updates.
- Blackbox for Windows – An alternative light shell replacement for Windows, based off of the Blackbox Window Manager. Highly customizable.
- JkDefragGUI – Is able to defrag when your screensaver comes on. Has other powerful features.
Outlook Express / Windows Mail
- Mozilla Thunderbird – Email client from Mozilla. Extendable with plugins and themes.
- Windows Live Mail – An improved version of Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail is part of the Windows Live suite.
- Evolution – Originally for Linux, Evolution is now available for Windows, offering an Outlook-like GUI.
- Mail functionality is also provided by SeaMonkey (formerly Mozilla) and Opera
- Comodo Firewall Pro – Protects outbound connections as well as inbound connections, unlike Windows Firewall. Has database of â€œsafeâ€ software to prevent unnecessary warnings.
- ZoneAlarm Free Firewall – Protects outbound/inbound connections, â€œstealthsâ€ your computer.
- Audacity – Record, mix, and apply effects to sounds in this fully featured audio editor.
CD/DVD Burning Functionality
- ImgBurn – Works with all types of media, able to create, build, and burn CD images.
- Google Desktop Sidebar – Google Desktop features a sidebar feature as part of the Google Desktop package.
- Yahoo! Widgets – While not a sidebar, Yahoo! Widgets allows you to place widgets onto your desktop. Also features a widget dock where you can view your widgets at a quick glance.
- Klipfolio – Place â€œKlipsâ€ around your desktop, with information from the web. Takes up less space than traditional widgets/gadgets.
- Vista Start Menu – Larger start menu which allows you to find your applications more easily and quickly perform tasks.
- Launchy – While technically not a menu, Launchy allows you to launch programs by typing a portion of the application name.
- ViStart – For XP users, this replaces the current Start Menu with Vistaâ€™s start menu, even containing search functionality.
- Launchy – Launch programs by typing a portion of the application name – as opposed to typing the full application name or executable name