A list of essential programs

I recently had the misfortune of re-installing Windows 7 on my main workstation. This has more or less become an annual tradition for me, but this time around I’ve decided to backup all of the installers for the applications I use most frequently so that when I have to reinstall again I can just install Firefox instead of using Internet Explorer to download a better web browser.

The list may change a bit over the next few days, I’m still getting my new system up to snuff, but this is a collection of my go to applications when installing a fresh copy of Windows. All of these programs are free to download and most of them exist in one form or another on Linux or OSX:

Internet Tools

  • Google Chrome (my primary web browser)

  • Mozilla Firefox (my secondary web browser)

  • Pidgin (instant messaging, every way to reach someone on the internet ever)

  • UltraVNC Viewer (remotely control your computers)

  • Skype (easy VoIP and video chat)

  • Ventrillo (even easier voice communication)

  • uTorrent (the finest torrent client out there)

  • SmartFTP (for uploading and downloading to servers)

  • Hamachi (free virtual private networking)

  • AVG Free (easy and free antivirus with none of the bloat)

  • Java JRE (everyone needs some Java)

  • Tor (privacy is harder and harder to come by these days)

Productivity Tools and Eye Candy

You’ll notice an absence of iTunes. Ever since I sold my second generation iPod Nano I haven’t had an Apple device in my life, so no need to synchronize anything via iTunes, but as a music player I’ve found iTunes has really become too bulky and processor intensive for my needs. I’ve shrugged it off as my main music library manager despite all of the qualities I liked about the software. Seeing how Apples is evolving iTunes as a music store platform, I’m not encouraged by what the once humble music player is bound to become. I have no desire to participate in marketing campaigns such as Ping, I don’t want to discover new tunes via my media library. I just want to listen to some music! I’ve replaced iTunes with foobar2000.

This list only contains the most basic programs and utilities that I need to get up and running on a new Windows system. To compliment the other groups of software one is bound to want to have on their computer I plan to add a few more lists of this kind down the road, featuring everything from security tools to audio production and web development tools. Maybe even a list of games I enjoy.

This page was last updated on December 28, 2010.