Microsoft offers a free a basic photo editor, Windows Live Photo Gallery for Windows Vista and 7 or Windows XP. You can organize your photos into albums, make edits and enhancements, and create panoramas, movies, slide shows, and more. Then you can share or publish them directly to websites and social networks like Facebook and Flickr. Editing features include auto adjust, cropping, red eye removal, retouching, noise reduction and color and exposure levels. You can also apply coloring effects, such as black and white or sepia.
If you want more advanced editing features like what Adobe PhotoShop offers, consider GIMP. It’s an free open source editor that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It includes advanced editing features for photo enhancing and digital retouching. It’s compatible with a wide variety of image formats, including Adobe Photoshop (.psd) files.
If you’re looking for an advanced graphics editor, similar to Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw, the vector graphics editor Inkscape is free, open source and a fine alternative. It supports the SVG format with features such as basic shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, and grouping. It also supports Creative Commons' metadata, node-editing, layers, complex path operations, text-on-path, text-in-shape, and SVG XML editing.
For video editing, Microsoft included the Windows Movie Maker in Windows XP. Though it was removed in later versions, they now offer the Windows Live Movie Maker for Windows 7. You can add videos, photos, and music as well as apply titles, captions, transitions, special effects, and credits. When completed, you can save and/or publish directly to websites and social networks (YouTube, etc.)
If you’re looking for a more advanced video editor, like Adobe Premiere, try Cinelerra. It’s a free open source program but doesn’t run in Windows, just Linux and Unix-like operating systems. This might be an initial letdown for Windows users, but this is a good opportunity to run a version of Linux (Ubuntu, for example) off of your machine via DVD or a flash drive.