A lot of people who know me, and even some readers feel that I am anti-Windows. I am not, though I have not taken any explicit efforts to correct the perception. I am against the strategies and decisions that Microsoft takes based on their businesses without thinking about the users, which probably poses me as a anti-Windows guy. What I usually do is recommend open source and free software over commercial ones, especially over pirated copies. I sincerely believe that there are a lot of quality open source projects which offer freedom and sometimes lower cost over the commercial counterparts. Regarding Windows , I was, in fact I am, a big fan of COM, Visual Studio and template libraries like ATL and WTL. I liked XP and used it quite extensively, but I am not sure I can say the same about Vista, I fail to see value there. I still use Windows, mostly for work reasons, where I use some software which is extremely good. As a first effort to say that I am an open source advocate but not anti-Windows, here is the list of softwares I use actively on Windows:
- Firefox is the default browser. Not only because it is a better piece of software, but also because it has a couple of extensions that help a lot in web development.
- Thunderbird is the best email client I have found for Windows. Even when compared to some of the paid ones. It is a customizable, secure and smart application that has some killer addons.
- OpenOffice is the office suite I use. One is because I do not want to pay for Microsoft Office for home use, the Microsoft Works Suite that came by default on my laptop really sucks and I am a supporter of the ODF that encourages interoperability.
- 7-Zip is a file archiver with high compression ratio. It is the best alternative to the popular WinZip which presents you with a prompt in the free version. Not only is 7-Zip free, but it provides a high compression with LZMA compression and supports the RAR format through a plugin.
- IrfanView is my favorite image viewer and manipulator. In addition to a host of plugins that it supports, IrfanView enables lossless JPG rotation, is easy to use and simply works. It is one of the best tools for quick works on images where other tools are either too heavy or too difficult. Another tool that I recently came across is Microsoft Photo Story via Amit Agarwal. It has scored pretty high in some of the test drives that I have taken. It can be an excellent tool for digital photos. Another new entrant has been Paint.NET which is finding its way into Mono tools.
- Gaim is a multi-protocol instant messaging client. It is a godsend when you multiple messengers like Yahoo, MSN and Google Talk. Using Gaim you can login to all these accounts using just one application, less clutter and easier to work with. Of course it has limitations, but good for most of the uses. There is also Trillian if you do not like Gaim.
- Freemind is a mindmapping tool that can help you draw your ideas very quickly and easily. It is one of the best tools of illustrating the different concepts and relations between them when explaining an idea.
- KeyNote is very similar to BasKet that I use on KDE. It is a tool for keeping notes, but different from the normal genre. You can store notes quickly. The application can be started with a single key, very essential but not intrusive for your main tasks. One of the key tools for productivity.
- Filezilla is the FTP client for Windows. I have not found any better one. It also has a FTP server, if you want to run your own FTP server.
- Audacity is an audio editor and recorder. It is a free tool, but its main advantage is the control you get when you edit audio files. Even if you do not usually edit audio files, it is the best recorder for Windows.
- Windows Live Writer is a good blog client. Its main job is to make writing posts easier and it is good at it. The HTML generated is still not great, but the basic task is done in a very good way. The only disadvantage? It does not install on anything older than Windows XP.
- Bricopacks come to your rescue if you, like me, get bored of your themes frequently. Bricopacks are more than visual styles or themes, they sometimes also include applications like docking applications. A must have if you want to work on the looks of your PC.
- dia has been my buddy for drawing diagrams for a long time. I have used it for drawing anything from illustrations to UML diagrams. But I have also used Inkscape some times.
- I keep wondering when Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP would be treated as a star application rather than as an extra. If you want to do anything more than just clicks on XP, remember to use the simple yet very effective applications provided through these powertoys. Tweak UI and Virtual Desktop Manager can help you customize your PC to a much more deeper extent.
I am sure I have enjoyed some more applications than what I have listed here. I also use free antivirus and firewall applications. And I have not included my development tools and editors, and some of the applications that others might find difficult to learn, like vim. I have been using vim for a lot of things on a lot of platforms like writing blog posts, including this one. Not surprisingly a lot of these are open source. I think most of the applications that I will use will end up being open source because of my inclination to it. There are some more web sites which list very good software that can be used on Windows.
I currently have Kubuntu on my laptop, and some of the applications I use are different from what I have mentioned here. But probably that calls for another post.