Favorite Software That I Still Use

Paul Mah
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Favorite Software Picks for Windows Users

Paul Mah's top software choices for Windows.

I was poring through some of the blogs I've written on SMB Tech earlier this year, and came across an earlier piece titled "Software That I Use." Having recently purchased a new laptop to replace my two-year-old machine, I thought it would be interesting for me to explore the software that made the transition to the new machine.


The list below is by no means all-inclusive, but it contains my favorite applications. For this round, I also elaborate a little as to why I still find them useful.


Microsoft Office 2010: Microsoft Office 2010 was released to manufacturing in April 2010, and has been made available for general sales since June 15, 2010. Admittedly, my switch to Office 2010 was more a matter of it being available than the lure of any new feature. Having said that, I do love the fact that the ribbon interface has been extended to encompass the entire Office family, including Outlook and OneNote, both of which I use heavily. In addition, the various enhancements in Outlook 2010, such as its vastly improved search and conversation functions view, make the entire suite a worthwhile upgrade in my personal opinion. After using it for a few months, I will also add that the overall flow of the user interface (UI) is certainly more intuitive and more user-friendly than Office 2007.


Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11: Version 11 of Dragon NaturallySpeaking was released in July of this year, promising improved speed and accuracy, as well as an enhanced UI. I tried it and found the interface to be more intuitive than before. What I really liked was the new animated icon that appears in place of the distracting Results box when Dragon 11 is working its speech recognition magic. Upgrades will want to check out the full list of Dragon 11's new features. (FYI: The Home edition of Dragon 11 appears to be on a steep, 25 percent holiday discount at the moment.)


SnagIt 10: I switched to TechSmith SnagIt 10 as a result of a limited-time upgrade promotion. While I haven't exactly explored its broad range of new capabilities, they do appear to be a nice addition to its base feature set, which is already quite sophisticated. I've used SnagIt since version 8 and have found it perfect for work that requires me to capture screenshots or to capture the content of webpages. TechSmith offers a free, 30-day trial of the product here, which is available for both Windows and OS X platforms.


Foxit Reader 4.3: Many reader contenders have entered the field, including robust and full-featured readers like Naunce PDF Reader and Nitro PDF Reader. However, I've found Foxit Reader to be superlative in terms of its light footprint, which translates into very snappy performance. Unlike other, more basic PDF viewers, the fact that Foxit Reader supports interactive forms and a "Typerwriter" tool for manual text insertion sealed the deal for me.


Google Chrome 8: I first switched to Google Chrome due to stability issues (at that particular point in time) with Mozilla Firefox. I've never looked back, however, thanks to Chrome's inherent stability and minimalistic, but intuitive, UI. While I was certainly aware of its Sync capabilities, it was nevertheless awesome to see all of my installed Extensions, Preferences, Autofill data and Bookmarks magically appear on a new Chrome installation upon keying in my login details. In addition, Chrome will also update to the latest version by itself.


Other Utilities That I Still Use


SugarSync Manager: I use SugarSync as my main backup solution, which backs up all my work-related files on its servers, as well as syncs them with other workstations.

Notepad++: Excellent text editor that programmers and power users will love.

7-Zip File Manager: Open-source file archiver that is lightning fast-what more can you ask for?

IrfanView: Popular freeware graphic viewer that can open most types of image files, including Adobe PhotoShop format. Did I mention that its installation file is only 1.33MB?

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