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Summary:

Windows 7 is easily the best version of Windows but even so, it can be even better with the proper utilities. There are many utilities to choose from, however, so to help in the search here are my top five.

Rocketdock

I was speaking with my future sister-in-law over the weekend and she was complaining about her laptop running Windows Vista. She asked me if Windows 7 was better and I quickly realized I was gushing about it. Windows 7 (as I told her) is easily the best version of Windows and I recommended she upgrade her laptop if proper drivers are available. I also realized there are some utilities I use on every Windows 7 system I test, and I recommended them, too. Here are my top 5 Windows 7 utilities.

Microsoft Security Essentials. A good anti-virus/spyware utility is a must on Windows 7, and I like Microsoft’s latest free product. I have used other free products in the past, AVG and McAfee in particular, but I find Microsoft’s Security Essentials is easier to install on new systems and uses less system resources than any other.

Rocketdock. I use a lot of Windows systems with limited screen real estate, and the free Rocketdock is a good way to have one-click access to the programs I use the most. Rocketdock is fully configurable, and can be positioned on any edge of the screen preferred. It’s simple and indispensable once installed. And it’s the utility I am most asked about when showing off a system with it installed.

Batterybar. I only use portable computers, and keeping an eye on battery performance is critical. Batterybar is a free meter (paid version available) that sits in the taskbar and shows the battery gauge. It also tracks lots of stats about the battery performance, and over time is extremely accurate.

CCleaner. Windows 7 requires housekeeping, just like all the versions before it, if you want to keep it humming along nicely. CCleaner is a free utility that keeps the pesky Windows registry lean and mean, along with clearing out the jump web browsers leave behind.

Wireless Network Meter. Desktop gadgets were introduced with Windows Vista, and Windows 7 carries on the tradition. I live my work life online, so keeping an eye on the network performance is useful. Wireless Network Meter monitors the network bandwidth in real time. It provides useful network information to make sure hotspots are secure.

  1. I have to, since switching to Win 7, I never use RocketDock anymore. Used to LIVE in it with Vista.

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  2. Uh… Security Essentials is “must-have”, but most of the others are not; they’re apps that you have gotten used to. OK, I could throw in CCleaner with the Security software since they’re in a similar category. By the way, these apps are requisites for Windows in general, not specifically Windows 7.

    RocketDock specifically is far from a must-have, but when it comes to Windows 7 RocketDock is redundant and almost superfluous, thanks to the Windows 7 Taskbar. “One-click access” to your apps is built-in

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    1. I hear what you’re saying about Rocketdock. I test a lot of small handheld computers and the Windows 7 taskbar is too small in portrait orientation to display all of my app icons. Rocketdock to the rescue. Not everyone will need it but I use it heavily.

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  4. Not sure if Firefox counts as a utility, but it’s a must-have on Windows 7.

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    1. I run Firefox on everything except the iPad. :)

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      1. I like IE still myself

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  5. Nice list, really…

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  6. Autoexec.bat Monday, April 5, 2010

    Gizmo Central…a must-have for laptops without an optical drive. Can mount ISOs from thumb drives, can even mount VHD files for quick emulation. Good burning software too and includes itself in context menus in Win7 like every good utility should.

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  7. Apoorva Pandya Monday, April 5, 2010

    Must haves:

    Avast Anti-Virus,MalwareBytes(to detect malware)

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  8. I was relieved to find my two must haves for Windows function.

    4t tray minimizer allows you minimize any window to the start tray if you leave certain programs running all the time, and don’t want them to take up space on the taskbar. It will also hide any open apps. I think it will also make your whole start tray disappear, which I rarely need, but it clears the space.

    And WheresJames Winspike will make any window you choose stay on top of others. I’ve never understood why this function is only built into a few programs, and not a feature next to the close/maximize/minimize buttons on the top right of every Windows program. Even with multiple displays, there are times when I want a calculator, an email, or Word doc to stay on top of everything.

    Both of these have other functions I don’t use, and best of all they’re free, and live in the start tray.

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  9. I would agree with you on CCleaner and maybe Microsoft Security Essentials but the others seem pretty optional. I would also include a good music/movie player as a must have (vlc maybe), a good browser (FF or Chrome) and probably an antispyware product like spybot.
    To be perfectly honest I would dump M$ Security Essentials for avast or avira.

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  10. useless post. there are many must-free windows software

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    1. I disagree, I didn’t even know Microsoft Security Essentials existed and had forgotten about CCleaner. So thanks for the post James!

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