Open Thread: Must have apps for WinXP PC


In preperation of the Windows Vista launch, I am trying to acclimitaize myself with Windows XP operating system, and have a brand new machine which I want to use for a week, and then compare it with my Vista experience.

Since I spend most of my time on a Mac, it is hard to figure out what applications should one install on a PC. Microsoft Office seems to be an obvious choice, though I am sticking to Google Docs for now.

I have installed both Skype and Gizmo Project, and the machine came pre-installed with Google Talk. Microsoft Live Writer is a pretty good client for writing blog posts, and Feed Demon is as good a feed reader one can get. Beyond that, well I am at a loss. A large chunk of my time is spent writing, image editing, answering email, reading RSS feeds and listening to music. Any tips on the “very best” apps would be greatly appreciated.



Open Office is better than MS Office, also if you go to you will find open source software for Windows, just about all you need really and its free and open source.
Personally I would not invest in Vista, for the past year I have used PCLinuxOS, it is coming out with a 3d desktop, also has translucency, does all I want and I am a power user. Not once in the past year while using it have I ever used a command line. The modern Linux Desktop is easy to use. Like Vista there is a bit of a learning curve. But heh, if you are content with MS Windows and want to go that way, good for you, just thought I would add another choice for you.


audio – foobar2000
browser – firefox – w/ extentions
image – photoshop cs3
video – avid pro hd
files – beyoundcompare organizer
email – thunderbird
cd ripping – EAC w/ lame.exe, and FLAC frontend
torrent – utorrent
word processing – openoffice
im – aim 5

Tim Peter

The main list is pretty typical:

Finally, I still use MS Office pretty heavily, though I’m trying to get over to OpenOffice. We do use OpenOffice on my wife’s and kids’ computers.

Of course, you could also install Ubuntu and forget about Windows altogether. I’m leaning heavily that way since I don’t feel like buying all new machines to run Vista.

Dave Entwistle

From those already mentioned above, Foxit Reader and Notepad++ are great. Firefox + plugins of choice is kinda obvious :o)

Here’s one that nobody mentioned and is mandatory for all my WinXP machines: Total Commander. You might prefer some other similar program, but whatever you do, stay away from Windows Explorer!


horray for free. i’m a web designer/dev so some of this caters to that.

media monkey
cdex (cd ripping)

iceows (zip, integrates really well into windows)
atnotes (stickies. out of development, but still available)

textpad (the free version)
open office

firefox with:
– forecastfox (weather)
– fireftp (ftp)
– web dev
– firebug (debugging)
– editcss

used to use trillian for IMing, but recently switched to meebo.

Chakresh Mishra

I owe a lot to WWD. So here is my list.I had installed them on my pc
dabba software
itune 6
klite mega pack(from net)
fm radio
zune theme
deamon tool
spyware terminator
nvidia driver
clear type
registry mechanic
ms office
ms onenote
adobe acrobat pro
.net framework
nfs carbon/mw
fifa 2006


I use notepad2 for programming and editing html, gmail notifier, Opera, utorrent, Sygate firewall, AVG antivirus, irfanview, winrar, mirc, foxit reader (adobe replacement), putty, Terraim (lightweight aol messenger client), VLC, PDFCreator, Frostwire, emule, filezilla, xampp, portable firefox, portable audacity, truecrypt, xmplay, BreakOMat (some program I found one day that blacks out your screen on an interval you specify), dizzy (.nfo reader), dscrypt (aes encrypt/decrypt), cybershredder and a program called RemindMePlease by Spacejock software for reminders, all on a somewhat daily basis.

You might also want tweakui, spybot, and CDBurnerXP

Wow that list turned out longer than I thought it would.



Firefox (web)
Gmail (Email)
Thunderbird (Email archiving)
SyncBackSE (backup) *
FeedDemon (rss & podcasts) *
Hamachi (VPN)
UltraVNC (remote desktop)
SecureCRT (ssh) *
Skype (phone)
MSN/AIM/Yahoo (chat)
GIMP (image manip)
MediaMonkey (music) *
Adobe Photoshop Elements (image catalog) *
cutePDF (pdf writer)
foxit (pdf reader)
Google Earth (maps)
WinSCP (secure file transfer)
Windows live writer / Performancing (blog)
CDBurnerXP Pro (cd burning)

* – means you may have to pay for full version


If anything, I suggest:
Opera (web browser)
foobar2000 (for high quality music output)
Thunderbird (email client)
CPU Idle Extreme (cools down the CPU, when not in use)*
TuneUp 2007 (cleans up your computer a little)*
WinRAR (perfect for any, if not most, compressed archives)*
Nero 6 (for all your PC burning needs. Nero 7 is not very good)*

Some are freeware, but others require a retail edition for full usage and etc…
Things marked with (*) may need a full version.

Dave Child

Here are the apps I personally find invaluable on my XP machine. Not all going to be useful for everyone, and you can find them yourself, but might be useful :)

Synergy (keyboard and mouse sharing over networks)
Hamachi (zero-config VPN)
StrokeIt (mouse gestures)
Opera (browsing and email)
Firefox (developer tools and testing environment)
Winamp (music)
Buzzsaw (on the fly defrag – helps keep XP running smoothly)
7-Zip (zip, rar, anything)
Filezilla (FTP)
AutoHotKey (rebind caps lock to backspace and insert to delete)
VNC (usually TightVNC, remote desktops)

Most of the above are open source or freeware.

I also use EditPlus, but only because I can’t find a text editor for XP that does what I want as well or as easily.


For image editing try Paint.NET, it’s a free alternative that is just as good as Photoshop is but friendlier than GIMP.

I’m also hooked on Launchy for quick application launching.


Must have XP Apps:

Firefox (FireFTP, ChatZilla, Google Reader), 7-Zip, Foxit Reader,, Kaspersky AntiVirus, Notepad2, Fireworks (or Gimp), Winamp, Bittorrent, Messenger Live, Thunderbird.

Marc Orchant

Hi Om. I’ll second the recommendations Tris makes about MindManager and GyroQ. Also about ClearContext if you do decide to use Outlook in which case I also strongly recommend OneNote which is really nicely integrated with Outlook in the new Office 2007.

The must-have enhancement for Windows IMO is ActiveWords. It makes your PC smarter. It does what QuickSilver combined with TextExpander does for the Mac and more. It is the one enhancement I cannot function well without. Also SnagIt from Techsmith for screen capture (including web page capture with live links) and Anagram for intelligent parsing of the clipboard into Outlook, Palm Desktop, or if you end up using any of those apps.

Tris Hussey

Hey Om! First off, as much as Outlook gets slammed, I keep coming back to it. Outlook itself isn’t enough though. I found ClearContext recently which makes my e-mail life a little more painless.

I also suggest both MindManager and GyroQ for mindmaps. Browser, Maxthon 2 beta 3. Yes, I know Firefox is the blogosphere’s darling, but well I like the IE compatibility and speed it brings.

I’d also find a good desktop search app. I’ve tried them all. I think Google DS is fun, but can be heavy (IMHO). X1 is good. Copernic is good. I’m playing with Windows DS v3 again just for kicks. For you, I think X1 is a good choice.

Live Writer is good. BlogDesk is good for blog posts. Of course I still use Qumana all the time.

Does that help?


When I was running a PC as my work computer, I thought that Mozilla Thunderbird was by far the best IMAP mail client (and of course, Firefox as the browser). Gaim is a little ugly but is probably the best multi-IM client (some like Trillian). I used Sharpreader as my RSS reader, iTunes was my mp3 player of choice, though there are still a ton of Winamp loyalists. I used SecureCRT/SecureFX to connect to servers, but PuTTY is a free alternative and very good. EditPlus was my favorite windows text editor. For media, a lot of people like to avoid the hassle of WMP/Real and use Real Alternative and Media Player Classic.

Writing that, I’m realize how happy I am to have left all that behind, now developing full-time in OS X.


I would suggest for –

Text editing: Notepad++. I can barely bring myself to code without it.

Image editing: Well nothing really beats Photoshop (sorry, no commercial link plugging from me!) sadly. Though if you want a free alternative there is The Gimp… but if you are used to the Photoshop way of doing things then you could try the GimpShop.

Oh and why MS Office?? Why not

Well that will do for now… good luck.

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