So, you’ve just got home from the big box store and eagerly torn the bubble wrap from your brand new Windows computer. Congratulations! After going through the normal Windows setup and personalization, you’ll find yourself staring at a (mostly) blank desktop.
The sky’s the limit. You’ve got a clean system installation and reams of hard disk space. Understandably, it can hard to know where to begin. No worries. This handy list will help you get started with a few essential—and free—programs to install on your brand new Windows 7 computer.
Windows Live Essentials
It’s a wonder that this suite isn’t bundled with Windows 7 out of the box. Windows Live Essentials is a group of multimedia and communication applications that help you get the most out of the Windows Live services. This bundle includes Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Movie Maker, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Mesh (a cloud-syncing and backup service) and Windows Live Mail. Right off the bat, this single download takes care of most or all of your photo importing and organization, messaging and email needs.
Get it here: http://explore.live.com/windows-live-essentials
Windows Media Player 12 comes with Windows 7, and it works well as a basic music library. But if you want to sync your iPad, iPod or iPhone, you’ll need iTunes. Even if you don’t use Apple products, iTunes’ podcast management features and slicker user interface make it worth the download.
Get it here: http://www.apple.com/itunes/
Chrome is the wave of the future. It’s faster than Internet Explorer, it’s more secure than Internet Explorer and it’s more extensible than Internet Explorer. And, of course, it’s just flat out cooler than Internet Explorer. Chrome is quickly gaining in market share, and there are virtually no websites that don’t support it fully. If Chrome is still too cutting edge for you, try Mozilla Firefox.
Get it here: http://www.google.com/chrome
Microsoft Security Essentials
This is another program that is amazing that it’s not included with Windows 7. The “free” anti-virus trial software that you likely got with your computer is probably slow, outdated, annoying and about to expire. Go ahead and uninstall it and get MSE. It works seamlessly with Windows 7 and it covers all of the bases in terms of online security and virus protection.
Get it here: http://www.microsoft.com/security/pc-security/mse.aspx
Whatever MSE doesn’t catch, Malwarebytes will. This focuses on bloatware, spyware, adware and other annoyances that may not be outright malicious, but can seriously slow down your computer.
Get it here: http://www.malwarebytes.org/
Bing Dynamic Theme
Not technically a program, but you’ll certainly appreciate it every day. The Microsoft Bing Dynamic theme automatically rotates your wallpaper to the Bing image of the day. It adds a bit of eye candy and variety to your humdrum workday.
Get it here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/downloads/bing-dynamic-theme
doPDF Free PDF Converter
You don’t have to shell out the big bucks to Adobe to create PDF files. doPDF is a lightweight and free PDF convertor that lets you save documents and web pages as PDFs. Useful for storing confirmations and receipts and other important ephemera from the web.
Get it here: http://www.dopdf.com/
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