I enjoy a good discussion about the merits of various software applications and tools. My rationale is simple: I am open to using applications that have proved helpful for others. It is in this spirit that I've decided to compile a list of software applications that I currently use on Windows.
While I am not partial (or adverse) to using open source or free software, I believe in using the best tools for my needs. As such, I am not averse to forking out money if it makes sense to, and my list of preferred software reflects this philosophy. This is not a list of installed applications in that sense -- I have not included software that I am only testing, as well as assorted proprietary software specific to my personal needs.
Beyond that, you can say that the list of applications below mirrors what I regularly use. As usual, feel free to chip in with your own recommendations and comments.
Note: An asterisk (*) below denotes commercial software or service.
- Microsoft Office 2007*: I use Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in this office suite heavily. In my opinion, Microsoft Office looks much better than OpenOffice.
- Outlook 2007*: Technically part of the Microsoft Office family, though is normally only packaged with the higher-end edition. Anyway, the license for Outlook 2007 is specifically included as part of my Exchange 2010 hosting with Intermedia.
- IrfanView: A very lightweight and fast image viewer with many powerful batch-processing features.
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10.1*: Powerful speech-to-text software that I use to improve my writing productivity.
- SnagIt 8*: The best screen-capture software, in my opinion. It includes the ability to capture a Web page even if it extends your display. A newer version is available, though.
- Foxit PDF Reader: A fast, fully functional PDF reader that I have used for the past few years.
- Notepad++: A general-purpose text editor just as capable of manipulating text files as with a plethora of programming source code.
- Connectify: This very interesting tool is free and works only on Windows 7. The advanced software driver basically "virtualizes" an existing wireless adapter to connect through Wi-Fi and also simultaneously become an access point for your other Wi-Fi devices. Connectify makes it possible to share your Internet connectivity when travelling with multiple Wi-Fi devices using only one user login.
- FileZilla Client: One of the most popular free FTP software offerings out there; FileZilla supports SFTP and FTPS too.
- FeedDemon: I consider this one of the most powerful desktop RSS readers for the Windows platform. It syncs with Google reader, too. I use this practically every day.
- TetherBerry*: I use this to quickly tether my laptop to my BlackBerry for Internet connectivity. And yes, the product was recently rebranded as "Tether."
- UltraVNC: Connects to a VNC server over the network to control terminals remotely.
- Google Chrome: My primary browser of choice.
- Mozilla Firefox: Another very popular Web browser.
- Internet Explorer 8: This is what I use when all my other browsers fail.
- SugarSync Manager*: I subscribe to the SugarSync service for real-time backup protection. You can read about how I use this service in an earlier blog here. A free version also is available.
- 7-Zip File Manager: An open source software that works with a large number of archival formats.
- DisplayFusion Pro*: A tool to enhance your experience with multiple displays. The multi-monitor taskbar feature is something that Microsoft should have built directly into Windows.
- Google Desktop: An excellent global search tool for both files and e-mails. Let's just say that I won't be able to do without this.
- AVG Free 9.0: Free antivirus software that is robust and relatively lightweight.
- SlySoft Virtual CloneDrive: Mounts CD and DVD image files as a drive.
- Media Player Classic: Video player of choice.
- VLC Media Player: Another popular video player.
- Windows Media Player: Microsoft's media player for those times when only it works.
- Handbrake: Free utility that converts DVDs into movie files. Perfect also for converting training materials into video files to watch on portable devices such as an iPod Touch.