Simply put, this list answers the question "What should you install right after installing Windows on your PC?" Our list of fifteen software follows. It's based from our collective experience as long-time PC users.
It's obvious that an antivirus program should be the first companion of any new Windows installation. The problem is, which one should you choose? In our most recent comparison of free anti-virus software, Avast won over six other competitors, including Microsoft's own Security Essentials. The free anti-virus program won praise from our hardworking testers thanks to its performance, accuracy in detecting threats, and (most importantly) user-friendly interface.
Everyone knows that the more programs you install and run on a Windows PC, the slower it becomes. CCleaner minimizes of this slow virtual decay somewhat, by providing an easy way to clear unnecessary data from your PC. This utility also makes hiding your web history a snap.
It's still a bit hard to believe: in a span of a few years, Google Chrome has grown from its buggy beginnings into a popular heavyweight. As one of the first programs that popularized the minimalist web browser interface, Chrome is perfect for people who like to see as much of their favorite web pages as possible. It also helps that Chrome can close individual unresponsive web pages without forcing the user to close the web browser as a whole.
The first web browser that really made a dent on Internet Explorer's long-time dominance, Mozilla Firefox popularized the multi-tab setup and third-party plugins that add to the program's utility. Now locked in a serious war against Mozilla Firefox for the browser usage share crown, Firefox remains a must-have install for many users running a new Windows installation.
Microsoft Office is king, but pricey. Google Docs is free but reliant on internet access. Open Office is a long-time free alternative that will run even if you're not connected to a network. While in many ways it's less user-friendly and functional than Microsoft Office, it gets the job done for those who need to write out reports, balance figures on a spreadsheet, or prepare presentations for meetings.
Need to keep in touch with friends and family from across the world? Tell them to download and install Skype on their computer, and do the same with yours. Skype remains popular because it makes free video calls over the internet possible, even with contacts that are literally halfway around the world. The only problem: you need a good internet connection to maximize it.
Perhaps you communicate through AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) or its equivalent from Microsoft. Or maybe even Yahoo's Instant Messenger. Regardless of what instant messaging service you rely on, Pidgin probably supports it. Even better, this program lets you stay online across multiple accounts, on different IM services. So copy-pasting that text from your AIM friend and sending it to your YM friend is easier than ever.