Ten ideal programs for your new Windows 10 install
Now that Windows 10 is out and about, eating away at Windows 7’s market share like a tasty pizza pie, what do you want to do with the new OS? Why, install new software, of course! We’re not talking about games, but rather tools that you’ll likely need to get the best performance out of your freshly installed OS. This list of tools is ideal for those who formatted and installed Windows 10 from scratch, and for those who elected to take the upgrade route. Additionally, everything listed here is free, so there’s no financial risks to take.
The first item you should probably download and install is a web browser you know and trust. We're not saying that you should avoid using Microsoft’s new, built-in browser (Edge). However, browsing solutions like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have been around for quite a while and chances are that you have loads of bookmarks.
Because of this, you're highly familiar with these browsers and you know their capabilities. You've also likely connected your desktop browser to a mobile version so that your bookmarks are accessible from any device. That said, install your favorite browser while you get to know Microsoft Edge, although you won't get the multi-device experience given that Edge is only offered on Windows 10 and soon the Xbox One.
Don’t have an optical drive installed in your rig or laptop? No problem. That’s where Daemon Tools comes into play. Simply put, this software creates a virtual drive and also allows the user to “mount” image files such as an ISO or MDS. There are a number of versions listed on the Daemon Tools website, including Daemon Tools Lite 10, which is free to use.
“You can choose a free app to create, store, mount images, and pay for additional pro features you really need or get a Full Pack of tools at half price,” the developer says.
Users of the “Lite” tool can create or mount an image file. The latest version, 10.1.0, supports Windows XP, includes minor UI improvements, supports additional languages, and USB sharing via iSCSI Initiator.
This PC optimization tool, developed by Piriform, has been around for quite a while. There’s a free version, a $25 “Professional” version (tagged as Most Popular) and a $40 “Professional Plus” version (tagged as Best Value).
The free version promises to speed up your computer while it keeps your privacy on the Internet in check. If you choose the Professional version, you’ll get premium technical support, automatic updates, and real-time monitoring. The Professional Plus adds a disk fragmentation tool and file recovery.
No matter which version you choose, CCleaner is designed to clean your PC by getting rid of temporary Internet files, deleting invalid entries in the Windows Registry, removing unwanted programs from Startup, and more.
This is an open-source office suite that’s provided free of charge under the Apache 2.0 License. Apache states that OpenOffice stores all data in an international open standard format and is capable of saving and reading files in formats used by competing office suites.
This office-focused bundle includes Writer (word processor), Calc (spreadsheet editor), Impress (slideshow creator), Draw (artwork creator), Base (database editor), and Math (an equation editor). That said, this suite is jam-packed with features and the result of “over twenty years of software engineering.”
If you don’t want to spend hard-earned bucks on Microsoft’s latest Office suite, OpenOffice is a terrific alternative that’s competitive and extremely easy to use. The latest version, as of this article, is OpenOffice 4.1.1, which was released to fix “critical issues.”
This communications tool was launched back in 2003, believe it or not, combining VoIP calling with instant messaging. The big selling point is that Skype users can call other Skype users for free, and it’s great if a team scattered across the United States needs to come together and bash out great ideas without everyone needing to meet at the office.
Microsoft acquired Skype back in 2011 for a crazy $8.5 billion, and now we see the service seemingly popping up everywhere, including the Xbox One console and Outlook.com. Customers who subscribe to Office 365 get 60 minutes of Skype calling, meaning users can call non-Skype members on mobile and landlines. Skype users can even share files, share their screen, and more.
Need an image-editing tool that doesn't require you sell organs or take out a bank loan? The GNU Image Manipulation Program, aka GIMP, is the ideal solution for Windows 10. It's a free tool that allows users to create layered artwork, fix photos, change the format of an image, and so on. It's a powerful package that rivals Photoshop and is even built to accept extensions and plugins.
According to the GIMP website, the software also includes a scripting interface that “allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.” GIMP includes a full suite of painting tools, animation editing tools, and tons more that should tickle the fancy of any digital artist, photographer, or general consumer.
SPYBOT – SEARCH & DESTROY
This malware detection solution has been around since 2000, originally developed by German software engineer Patrick Michael Kolla and later picked up by Safer Networking, Ltd. There are three variants up for grabs: a free version, a $14 Home version, and a $26 Professional version.
The free version scans for malware and nasty rootkits, and removes the menacing software. Spybot also provides startup tools, blocks known malicious websites, and protects the user from unlisted malicious websites and cookies by providing a proxy.
The Home version is a bit more feature-packed, adding full anti-virus protection, live protection, and more. The Professional edition offers everything Safer Networking can offer, such as scanning iPhone apps, registry repair, a secure file shredder, and so on.
Want to get rid of files on your hard drive without the possibility of recovery? File Shredder may be the solution you’re looking for, a free tool that’s offered under the GNU/GPL General Public License. According to the developer, this software will “erase” files by writing a “random series of binary data” multiple times in a single spot so that the original file is no longer accessible.
Users can choose between five different shredding algorithms, which vary in strength. There’s also a Disk Wiper feature that will scrub unused disk space and an option to toggle on Windows Shell integration. File Shredder is a very small program that works on Windows 10 and older.
Don’t want to spend the money on software that opens ZIP and RAR files? Take a look at 7-zip, a free open-source archive tool that mostly falls under the GNU LGPL license (unRAR code is supported under a mixed license, the webpage says).
According to the developer, 7-Zip provides a Zip/GZIP compression ratio that’s better than WinZip, a premium archive handler that has a starting price of $30. 7-Zip also integrates into Windows Shell, has “strong” AES-256 encryption (ZIP and 7z formats), provides a file manager, and is even offered in numerous languages. Unpacking formats include RAR, FAT, ISO, CAB, TAR, GZIP, and loads more.
VLC MEDIA PLAYER
As the name states, VLC is a media player that’s offered for free on a number of platforms including Windows, Mac OS X, various Linux builds, and mobile platforms such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. The developer says that VLC will play just about anything you can throw at it without having to install a codec, including MP3, DivX, MPEG-2, H.264, and more. The software also plays media on DVDs, VCDs, audio CDs, and supports many streaming protocols.
The latest version for the Windows platform is v2.2.1 and weighs in at a mere 28MB.