Essential Software

Here are the bare essential programs I find myself installing on the windows machines within my sphere of influence. I take no responsibility for the ensuing madness or system malfunctions that will occur from using any of the following. Also, useful list of tools at http://www.hanselman.com/tools Scott Hanselman's blog.

3DMark + PCMark

http://www.futuremark.com/
Learn how inadequately your rig performs compared to others.

7-Zip

http://www.7-zip.org/
A good archiving compressor/decompressor, with the number 7 in front.

ActivePerl

http://www.activestate.com/
Compile code incomprehensible to most mortals.

Audacity

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
Windows sound recorder on steroids.

AVI2DVD

http://www.trustfm.net/divx/SoftwareAvi2Dvd.html
Use to make your Eggloft video watchable in a DVD player

AVIMux

http://www.alexander-noe.com/video/amg/
Sound and Video, together at last.

AviSynth + AVSEdit

http://avisynth.org/
Do amazing things with your media files (prereq. PhD in Computer Science)

CCleaner

http://www.ccleaner.com/
Clean up cache/history/registry etc. mess.

Console

http://sourceforge.net/projects/console
An improved terminal for access to the command prompt or other shells.

Cygwin

http://www.cygwin.com/
Pretend like windows has a useful shell. Better yet, remote access your linux desktop and pretend like windows isn't windows.

DVDShrink

http://www.mrbass.org/dvdshrink/
Magically back those DVR recordings into a smaller space at high quality.

FileZilla

http://filezilla-project.org/
Exciting name, boring file transfer.

Firefox

http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/
"take back the web", where shall I take it?

Add ons

Adblocker plugin for Firefox

http://adblockplus.org/en/
It's like stealing from the advertisers - who are trying to install spyware on you.

Delicious plugin for Firefox

http://del.icio.us/
All your bookmarks, conveniently located at an address you can never type properly on the first try.
nah. Digging diigo instead.

FlashGot

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/220
Send downloads straight to FlashGet

SiteLauncher

http://www.donesmart.com/sitelauncher/
Bookmark bar: bye bye. Keyboard access to bookmarks: hello.

Tab Mix Plus

Decent tab manager. Saved sessions and can open tabs adjacent from the launcheing tab.
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1122
Tree Style Tab better IMO

Tree Style Tab

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5890
Keep reasonable track of unreasonable numbers of tabs.

Add ons useful for EeePc

Creating more space in Firefox at [eeeuser].

Classic Compact Theme

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3699
Eeety bitty icons

Full Fullscreen

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1568
Perhaps not so useful if you don't have any toolbars.

Tiny Menu

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1455
Pack all of Firefox's menu items into one drop-down list

iFox Smooth

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1830
Nice theme, OSX style

Ghostscript + Ghostview

http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/
Helps deal with Postscript, even scarier than the name suggests.

Gimp

http://www.gimp.org/
PhotoShop shmotoshop, Gimp is free AND even harder to use.

Inkscape

http://www.inkscape.org/
AWESOME graphics editor. Use in combination with MikTex's ps2pdf to import postscript output and edit line graphics individually!!

IrfanView + Plugins

http://www.irfanview.com/
Scroll through the millions of pictures of landscapes and kittens on your hard drive.

MD5sums

http://www.pc-tools.net/win32/md5sums/
Generate the MD5 hash from a file to find out if you spent the last 2 days downloading a corrupt Ubuntu ISO.
From the website:

MD5sums can also be easily added to the windows shell. Use Windows Explorer to access your user profile directory (one level up from the "Start Menu" directory). Locate the "SendTo" folder and create a shortcut inside it to "md5sums -p" (pause before returning).

MikTeX + TeXnicCenter

http://miktex.org/
http://www.toolscenter.org/
A typesetting program that's not just smarter than Word, it's smarter than you!

Notepad 2

http://www.flos-freeware.ch/notepad2.html
Notepad's geekier older brother.

NTFS Link

http://www.elsdoerfer.info/=ntfslink
We all know NTFS is SUPPOSED to be able to make hard-links. To heck with useless "shortcuts"; realize your filesystem's potential with this utility and discover a new way to corrupt your disk.

Quicktime Alternative

http://www.free-codecs.com/download/QuickTime_Alternative.htm
Watch quicktime without installing the apple virus.

Sandboxie

http://www.sandboxie.com/
AWESOME. Run windows programs (especially email and web browser) from inside of jail, where they belong.

Skype

http://www.skype.com/helloagain.html
Easy video chatting… learn that everyone prefers you stick with text only.

SystemRescueCD

http://www.sysresccd.org/Main_Page
Make drive image points for backup and easy restore. Especially nice after getting windows the way you like it (with all the updates) and not having to run through the install process again.

Thunderbird

http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/thunderbird/
The best application for checking your spam.
Note: to specify a custom mail/profile directory, first launch the Profile Manager with thunderbird -P (see here)

Trillian

http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/
A great way to ignore your friends from anywhere in the world!

Ultimate Boot CD

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
Essential utilities to diagnose the reason your system died when you ran 3DMark.

UNetbootin

http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/
Make USB thumb drive boot friggin anything and any combinations of anythings.

UnixUtils

http://unxutils.sourceforge.net/
Why suffer the uselessness of the windows command prompt? Add Unix command functionality!

Unlocker

http://ccollomb.free.fr/unlocker/
WTF do you mean I "cannot delete file". Nuke it properly with this handy app.

VirtualDub

http://www.virtualdub.org/
Like splicing VHS with scotch tape, only slower.

Whats Running

http://www.whatsrunning.net/whatsrunning/main.aspx
Hunt down and kill bloat/spyware you have from installing the programs on this list.

WinDirStat

http://windirstat.info/
The prettiest map of crap you'll ever see. Find out what folders and files are eating all your hard drive space.

XviD

http://www.xvid.org/
Make and watch video compressed beyond the quantum limit

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