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Useful Apps for First-Time Windows Users? 980

pauljoyce asks: "I'm a Mac fan who is intrigued by the possibilities of Apple's Boot Camp software. Now that I have a chance to painlessly dip into the Windows world, what I'd like to ask you is, what Windows software amazes you? I want to build a list of unique, elegant, can't-do-without apps, so all us new Boot-Camp babies can finally experience some of the great innovation happening over on the Windows platform. I roughed in a quick blogpage to collect the info, and to house any useful discussions. It'll probably deteriorate into a flame war at some point, but hopefully I can get a few contributions to each category before then. Would those interested please chime in with their list of favorites?"
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Useful Apps for First-Time Windows Users?

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  • flame war? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:31PM (#15110867)
    Asking slashdot for must have windows apps? Nah...
  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:31PM (#15110868) Homepage Journal
    Now that I have a chance to painlessly dip into the Windows world, what I'd like to ask you is, what Windows software amazes you?

    Java. Because it means that I can move the hell off of Windows and use a Mac instead.

    Whoops. Did I just say that out loud? :-P
    • by catwh0re ( 540371 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @12:00AM (#15111061)
      I'm finding this a remarkable piece of poorly thought out PR.

      Let's take a realistic point of view. We have a computer user who seems to be well experienced. They even have a nicely designed blog online where you can write in your favourite Windows-only applications. Yet they claim that they have never been a windows user before (Making me wonder where they have been for the past 10+ years where windows has been the ubiquitous consumer & business software platform.)

      Now let us pretend for a moment that this actually is some computer user who has already mastered implementing RSS+Atom into their blog, yet simultaneously never even noticed that Windows has existed alongside the Mac OS, nor ever even dabbled in it until the release of boot camp last week(I can hardly imagine them rushing out to a store and purchasing a copy of MS Windows for their not-even year old Intel Mac) So why would they be interested in beta software like MS Max? (Which is really only ever going to be as good as last years version of Apple's iLife?) And why is it that their top 10 Mac apps seem to resemble the top rated list from

      Now lets come back to the real world: If you haven't dabbled in windows ever then you're either a recent jail escapee or very good at digging one's own head deeply into sand. This story doesn't add up, and is coinciding with a new wave of windows advertising. Which is fairly interesting as it's before a major release is due. I think our friends in Redmond are just trying to peddle off some Windows sales. Now excuse me I have to drink coffee with a pretty lady from getty-images.

      • by mogabog ( 55770 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @12:10AM (#15111127)
        I don't know how to use a PC. Give me OSX or a CLI and I'm fine. But I only used a PC for the only two weeks I worked in a cube.

        I worked in a mac-based office (not a design firm, a real office) and have done years of development exclusively on macs. My servers are OS X servers.

        I do not know how to use a PC more than basic point and click. I have no idea what a DLL is. I don't know what it means to flash BIOS. Why? Because I have never needed to know, nor have I wanted to know.

        As for the atom feed and stuff, that stuff is basic when you setup a blog. Come on.

        Maybe this is astroturf, but I am a very tech savvy individual and have hardly any knowledge of Windows or experience using it. And I love it.

        • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @12:21AM (#15111189) Homepage Journal
          I have no idea what a DLL is.

          It stands for "Display List List", which is a list of the Display Command Lists used by your Atari 7800 to render graphics to the television. This amazing technology is based on arcade hardware, making the 7800 the most advanced Atari ever! Just imagine, you'll soon be able to play such amazing titles as:

          * Ninja Golf
          * Fatal Run
          * Desert Falcon
          * Scrapyard Dog
          * Plus all your favorites like Ms. Pac Man, Donkey Kong, and Mario Bros.!

          And that's not all! With your new Atari 7800, we'll include the arcade hit Pole Position II at no extra charge! Isn't Atari just amazing?

          Have you played Atari today?
        • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @01:18AM (#15111448)
          Well since you mentioned it on Slashdot, you are going to get told anyhow:

          A DLL is a Dynamic Link Library. Basically it's a collection of executable code that's not meant to be executed directly, but rather to be called by programs. Orignally the idea was to cut down on resorce usage as you only needed one copy of the code on disk or in memory. These days all programs get their own compy in memory (for stability reasons) and programs often include their own copies on disk to ensure they get the version they want. Their primary uses today are:

          1) To allow the easy use of 3rd party code. Say I want to encode MP3s or something, but don't want to write it all myself. Instead, I can just get LAME complied as a DLL, and put calls to that with my software. That also allows for the MP3 encoding section to be upgraded without messing with the main executable.

          2) To reconsile incompatible licenses. In my previous example, you could use a LGPL program (LAME) that requires source release without releasing your entire source wince it's called as a library. To link it in your own code would require opening up that code. Conversely, an OSS program can make calls to non-OSS software, with no problems. It never needs access to the code, just calls the library.

          Flashing BIOS is much simpler, it simply means to update the system BIOS. The BIOS is what loads when you first turn your system on. Some comptuers call this boot ROM, firmware, or a host of other names. Regardless, on the PC it's what loads when you turn the power on. Sometimes, computer makers with to put out fixes or improvements for that. To flash your BIOS is to apply the new update. Generally these days you just download and run a Windows program and it takes care of it.
          • really?

            I didn't know Windows always creates copies of DLLs for stability reasons... that kind of defeats the purpose of dlls, but I can see if the library itself was unstable there may be some advantages to that. There is actually another legacy reason for DLLs - the code can be loaded or unloaded as needed, so a large app could use a much smaller memory footprint (and load much faster) since all functions of the app don't have to be loaded when the program starts up. This became more of a non-issue much
      • by lmlloyd ( 867110 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @12:35AM (#15111270)
        I have worked with a LOT of designers, artists, video professionals, and even web developers who have REFUSED to ever work on anything but a Mac, and have never used Windows for more than a few minutes. It always amazes me, but I have found myself in situations more times that I can count, where as the one guy in the studio who has ever touched a PC, I have to explain all sorts of simple things, because they don't know the first thing about Windows.
      • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @01:15AM (#15111440) Homepage Journal
        Let's take a realistic point of view. We have a computer user who seems to be well experienced. They even have a nicely designed blog online where you can write in your favourite Windows-only applications. Yet they claim that they have never been a windows user before (Making me wonder where they have been for the past 10+ years where windows has been the ubiquitous consumer & business software platform.)

        I'm a software developer. I've worked for IBM. I maintain and develop several Open Source software applications. And I haven't been a Windows user since Windows 3.1.

        I always have to laugh when some Windows user thinks that it is simply not possible to exist in the computing world without using Windows. However, it's quite a bit easier to live outside the Windows world than you think.

        How did I do it? Long before Windows 95 existed, I used a fine 32-bit, pre-emptively multitasking operating system called OS/2, which I used for most of the 1990's. Towards the late 1990's, when OS/2 was on the decline, I started working for IBM as an OS/2 developer, where I also did a lot of Unix/Linux work. Around the same time frame, I started running Linux at home in parallel to my OS/2 machine as a way of running software through X that I didn't otherwise have access to.

        With the serious decline of OS/2 in the 2000's, I moved over to Mac OS X (along with running a lot of Unix systems). For the last number of years much of my paid work has been in Java comsulting, where I get to pick what platform I use.

        So I haven't had a Windows machine since 1993 at this point. True, I have encountered them here and there over the years, but I've been able to avoid being assigned to a Windows machine in my home or at any place of work I've held in all that time. The trick is damn simple for the most part: be so freakishly good at what you do that people will be happy to comply with your platform requests, and let them know up from you have no interest in working with Windows. So far, it's worked every time here.

        Windows Free since '93.

        • by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @02:32AM (#15111668)
          I'm a software developer

          I hope you don't mean you NEVER use Windows or a newer version than 3.1...

          You owe it to yourself to fully understand what is out there, and the development division of Microsoft has done some really cool things in the past 10 years. Not always perfect, but different and worth knowing to at least get ideas or very least know your competition.

          Even looking at the *nix market we see the classic 'taskbar' in everything from KDE to GNOME and other variants. It is kind of sad that MS was the first one with a taskbar like this, but it isn't such a bad idea, so I don't mind see others parrot it.

          I find too many experienced IT people that I interview and they are non-Windows people which is fine, but when asked what they are working on or why they like one OS, etc.

          I find that many times they have NO idea how much the industry has passed them by. I get answers like, I use XXXX because I want a real 32bit OS, or real Multi-Tasking, or I am developing this cool application idea (an idea that has been built into Window or other OSes for YEARS) and they think they are being innovative.

          Basically you can't be innovative, unless you know what else is out there.

          Getting off of Windows is great, but don't close your mind to the stuff from Redmond, they surprise many great developers sometimes, by statistics alone, it has to happen. For example at the PDC in September they shook up the way a lot of us developers view software, and even some of us are developing on other platforms, their ideas were something good to build from.

          I assume you don't mean you haven't used Windows to at least explore the competition, but in case you haven't or others in here haven't, it is worth your time...

          Nice VMWare or other tool and at least run a test version somewhere. (Hint, if you are using VMWare or another comperable tool, you can use the 180day Free version of WindowsXP and just reinstall it.)
          • Even looking at the *nix market we see the classic 'taskbar' in everything from KDE to GNOME and other variants. It is kind of sad that MS was the first one with a taskbar like this, but it isn't such a bad idea, so I don't mind see others parrot it.

            You'd have a great point, that is if MS actually *was* the first one with a taskbar like this...
            • You'd have a great point, that is if MS actually *was* the first one with a taskbar like this...

              So don't leave us hanging, which GUI do you think had it first? Personally, I'm going with Acorn RISC OS, but would be interested if there's another contender.

        • It's funny, I'm a former OS/2 user myself. When Windows 95 came out, and OS/2 software was becoming rarer and rarer, I broke down and bought it. It was about as dreadful as Windows 3.1 was, but at least had a useful desktop. I ended up going back to OS/2 and started using Linux regularly at that point, dual-booting between Warp 4 and Slackware (thanks, OS/2 Boot Manager!).

          But, eventually, I found that a lot of the mainstream stuff just wasn't available. It took a long time to compile software on a 486 und

  • Games. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jnelson4765 ( 845296 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:33PM (#15110875) Journal
    Really - there are all these cool games, that are released *years* before they are available on Macs.

    That's the only reason I have a Windows box - to play my games, b/c most of them don't run in WINE.
  • that you try this new application that is out... Linux :-)

    Yeah, maybe not that funny, but its required here
  • iTunes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:33PM (#15110880) Journal
    Best app on Windows, bar none.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Subject: iTunes!

      Best app on Windows, bar none.

      The name of the app is foobar [], not "bar none." But I agree, foobar is the best music player app on Windows.
  • by masterpenguin ( 878744 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:34PM (#15110882)
    Now you too can be amazed how fast your mac can turn from a sleek machine into a pop up filled zombie email machine.
    • Well, maybe not first time windows users, but for first time internet users I would give them the following:
      1) Firefox
      2) Wikipedia
      3) Google
      And tell them to go exploring.
  • Games (Score:5, Insightful)

    by biocute ( 936687 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:34PM (#15110884) Homepage
    Play as many PC games as you like.
  • VLC Media Player (Score:2, Informative)

    by Chanticrow ( 761422 )
    VLC Media Player is a fantastic media player for Windows. It plays just about everything without worrying about codecs or plugins.

    Videolan Website []

  • Decent file manager (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:34PM (#15110889)
    Total Commander, or Salamander Commander. Both are excellent file managers, and they make WinZip un-needed.
  • by Stevyn ( 691306 )
    Depends on what you're interested. The only applications I'd rather use over open source counterparts are part of the Microsoft Office 2003 and Photoshop CS. I use windows and linux and those are the only applications I prefer using the windows counterparts. Of course, nobody really uses office unless they have specific work to do, but photoshop is fun and useful.
  • Must have (Score:3, Informative)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:35PM (#15110906) Homepage Journal
    Theres something most folks will overlook (and I'm looking past the flamewar)

    The first couple of stops should be to AVG [] and Firefox []

    Being a mac user, you know windows has viruses, and well firefox speaks for itself.
  • Cool! The post is a troll! :)
  • by No Salvation ( 914727 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:36PM (#15110914) Homepage Journal
    AVG [], Zone Alarm [], AD-Aware [] and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion [] and you should be set.
  • I personally like the ease and simplicity of SDP [] (plus it's free) for recording various types of streams. -- Dave
  • by Kent Brewster ( 324037 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:37PM (#15110919) Homepage Journal
    If you plan to use it for development, you can't go too far wrong with TextPad [] and WinSCP [].

    You might also find Tunebite [] useful, if you subscribe to any online music services.
  • first thing I'd get (Score:5, Informative)

    by yagu ( 721525 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ugayay>> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:37PM (#15110920) Journal

    First app I'd buy is vmware (hey, it might be free now!) so you can run OS X on it.

    No, really, all seriousness aside, I am a big user and fan in XP of:

    • Photoshop Elements. Make sure you're looking at version 4 at least. I'm quite sure this is also a Mac product, so if you're already playing with that in OS X, never mind. PSE is a light version of Photoshop for about 1/4 the price depending on where you purchase. It has most of the digital manipulation functionality I need, and interestingly has some features VERY useful not found in Photoshop.
    • AVG Anti virus [] for antivirus. I'm using the free version -- so far I've found it excellent, and haven't had any problems with the machine at all (note: it's a good idea to ensure you have de-installed all of the commercial products in the meantime -- aside from not working very well, they can step on other running anti-virus programs).
    • the Ubiquitous OpenOffice [], and it's free. It can be a resource hog, but I've not had any Office product installed on my XP boxes for years now and never had a need, and OO just keeps getting better.
    • The OpenCD [] which includes browsers, all kinds of cool and fun free software. Pick and choose, these'll take you a long way.
    • Picasa [] for organizing and sharing and printing (and minor editing) pictures. I wasn't much of a believer in this one, but because of its simplicity I recommended and installed and consulted this for friends and family. And finally was hooked -- it really does a great job for all of the organizing I need. (I believe it's probably on the OpenCD). It may not rival the iPhoto (or whatever OS X has), but it's a sweet product.
    • MoodySoft Screen capture [] software. I do a lot of work requiring quick and easy screen captures. This one's not free, but it's not expensive either, and I've tried about a gazillion different products, so far this has been the best for me.
    • Any combination, or even full suite of cygwin software. If you have ANY scripting needs, to get real work done and already know shell and unix utils, this is ESSENTIAL (and, it has an excellent X Server).

    This is really a tiny partial list. It's a shame I have so many programs I like to run in XP, cuz I always prefer the linux or some variant of unix environment. But, this is a small sample of what gets me through an XP kind of day.

    • Adding a few more... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @12:22AM (#15111196) Homepage
      * Crimson Editor [] An amazingly powerful freeware text / script editor.

        * uTorrent [] Is there an open source Torrent Client in under 200k? Does it have RSS searching, bandwidth scheduling, automatic resume, and trackerless support? Yes? Oh, good then.

        * As -U- Type []. Spell check anywhere. It's a great piece of software, if you can get over the fact that the author barely speaks any english.

        * 3 Plane Soft Screensavers []. Ok, they're screensavers. And they're a rip off. But damn they're nice.

        * Trillian []. 'nuff said.

        * The Bat! [] The second best mail client created, behind only KMail.

        * IZarc [] If there were need for zip clients anymore, this would be the one to have. Also handles about 50 other file standards, integrates really well with explorer, is small and efficient, and did I mention free? Best unzipper out there, including the pay options.

        * Folder Size [] Shows you how big your folders are. If explorer were made by Apple, it would do this by default.

        * True Crypt [] Data so secure even it doesn't know if there is more to be found in a file.

        * Thumbs Plus [] Arguably there are a lot of good applications in this space, and there are ones out there with better interfaces. But it is the only thumbnail application I've ever used that can handle upwards of 20,000 files in a single directory. If you take lots of pictures, this is the one.

        * DVD Decrypter [] Recently bought out by Macrovision to shut down it's decryptey goodness, DVD Decrypter is really a no-nonsense, no-fuss DVD ripper and burner. Want to rip a movie from a DVD so you can watch it later? One button. Want to rip it back to a DVD? Another button.

        * Microsoft Power Toys [] Nifty stuff from people who both hate and make the operating system.

      And remember to use an antivirus, a firewall, and two anti-spyware suites. My personal favorites are AVG Antivirus [], Kerio Personal Firewall [], Spybot [], and Ad Aware [].
    • Picasa (Score:5, Informative)

      by alphakappa ( 687189 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @12:58AM (#15111369) Homepage
      Actually, as a longtime user of Picasa on Windows and iPhoto on the mac, I can say that not only does Picasa match iPhoto, it is far superior in usability. The mac is my primary computer and I am an avid photographer and it is only the lack of Picasa on the mac that really drives me nuts about OSX. If you are a mac fan, don't flame me unless you have really used Picasa for some length of time. Here are my reasons:

      1. Picasa lets me 'monitor folders', something iPhoto will not let me do. I hate having to 'import' pictures into iPhoto everytime I want to see my new pictures there.

      2. Picasa will let me put my photo album anywhere I want, including external drives. There is no straightforward way to change your album location in iPhoto (Yes it can be done, but it's a hack)

      3. Picasa will let me add photos to the library without actually copying them to the Picasa storage folder. iPhoto insists on copying all photos to the iPhoto folder everytime you add pictures to it. Why is this important? As a photographer I have tens of gigabytes of pictures that I do not wish to store on the mac hard drive because the storage I have on external drives far outstrips my hard drive size . Also they are organized the way I want them with proper folder names and heirarchies. If I 'import' them to iPhoto, it creates one big lump of a library which I have to organize painfully by hand if I wish to see my original configuration. Also, the folder organization in the iPhoto folder has no connection to the original organization I had.

      4. Non-destructive edits. I can touch, crop and do anything I wish to my pictures in Picasa and it doesn't hurt the original picture at all. I can come back later and undo everything I did. If I wish to retain my changes, I can simply export the current state of the picture. On iPhoto, the edits you do are non-undoable once you are done with the edits. Very painful for a photographer who wants to quickly try out some edits before opening up the full-fledged Photoshop.

      There are many more, but these are the important ones. As for features Picasa gives almost all the features I expect from a photo organizer (which, to be fair are also available in iPhoto)
      • Re:Picasa (Score:4, Informative)

        by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @01:36AM (#15111508) Homepage Journal
        Picasa lets me 'monitor folders', something iPhoto will not let me do. I hate having to 'import' pictures into iPhoto everytime I want to see my new pictures there.

        This is easy to set-up with iPhoto. Just create an Automator task that takes the files in a folder and auto-imports them into iPhoto when activated. Create a folder to dump photos into, and enable it's folder actions to call your Automator task whenever a file is added to the folder. Done.

        Non-destructive edits. I can touch, crop and do anything I wish to my pictures in Picasa and it doesn't hurt the original picture at all. I can come back later and undo everything I did. If I wish to retain my changes, I can simply export the current state of the picture. On iPhoto, the edits you do are non-undoable once you are done with the edits. Very painful for a photographer who wants to quickly try out some edits before opening up the full-fledged Photoshop.

        In the Library view, right click on the photo and select "Revert to Original". Edits in iPhoto are also non-destructive -- editing an image actually creates a new image file. The original is still present on your hard drive -- you just have to tell iPhoto to revert to the original, and you're ready to go.

        These may not solve all of your issues with iPhoto, but if you feel the need or requirement to work with it, hopefully knowing these two tricks will make it a little less annoying to you.


      • Re:Picasa (Score:3, Insightful)

        by slim ( 1652 )
        Never mind the features: Picasa is touchy-feely and has what I believe Mac people call "The snappy".

        I bought a Mac Mini because I thought it might be a good idea to store my growing photo collection on a machine that belonged to me, rather than my employer. I allowed myself to believe the hype about iPhoto, was curious about OSX so I chose the Mac.

        With 1GB RAM, iPhoto 5 takes unacceptably long to start up, stutters while scrolling through the library, freezes for seconds at a time, and generally gets in the
    • Microsoft Office (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rve ( 4436 )
      Seriously, why doesn't anyone mention MS Office?

      Visio and Access for rapidly and easily designing and prototyping, powerpoint for presentations. There are other applications that can replace Word and Excel, but they don't support ythe same level of integration. Just drag and drop a table from Excel into a Word document.

      Because Office doesn't support exporting to PDF yet, you'll need CutePDF writer: []
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:38PM (#15110924) Homepage Journal
    If you have a single button mouse, like most Mac users, you'll need to:

    1. Press Start
    2. Select Control Panel
    3. Select Accessibility Options
    4. Select the Mouse tab
    5. Select the check box Use MouseKeys
    6. Press ok.
    7. You can now close Control Panel.
    8. Press the - key on your numeric keypad.
    9. Point your mouse cursor at the window or icon where you want to right click.
    10. Press the 5 key on your numeric keypad.

    At present I'm not aware of any apps that you can get that will convert Apple+click to a right click. But I'm sure there'll be one available from the Apple web site soon, they seem to be doing everything in their power to make running windows on a Mac as painful^H^H^Hless as running it on any other x86 hardware.
  • by Russ Steffen ( 263 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:42PM (#15110952) Homepage
    AVG Anti-Virus
    Hijack This
    Spybot Search and Destroy
    Microsoft Anti-Spyware (aka Windows Defender)

    That should get ya started.
  • by Gribflex ( 177733 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:53PM (#15111027) Homepage

    Seriously though, there is nothing fun or amazing about the windows world (aside from games that aren't available on OSX). The only 'must have' applications are only 'must have' because my IT department says so.

    I'll tell you straight up - If you are using a mac happily now, you probably aren't missing anything.
  • by imidan ( 559239 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @12:13AM (#15111139)
    TFA says that the OP wants these: Productivity (spreadsheet), Graphics, Utilities (spam, anti-virus, FTP etc), Games, Online enhancements (e.g. toolbars etc), Other.

    I'm not entirely sure what he wants to do, but most of these categories are just as mature under MacOS as they are under Windows. A spreadsheet application? Well, you've got Excel, you've got OO, and that's about it, for the big one and the up-and-coming, unless Lotus/Quattro is still hanging around out there somewhere. I don't know what state of the art is for spreadsheets on MacOS, but it's gotta be pretty similar to Windows. It's much the same with graphics programs and online programs, really. Utilities? What are you going to do with them? Why do you need a spam filter under Windows if you're checking your mail under MacOS? Do you actually envision booting into Windows and using it for long periods of time?

    The only category that I see here where Windows definitely has a lot of options above and beyond MacOS is games. So go for that. Go down to the local video game store and look for some things on the PC shelf that aren't on the Macintosh shelf, and buy them. Over all, you probably aren't missing much.

    This post sounds like the OP has a solution (Boot Camp) looking for a problem. And unless you've got a specific problem that really needs solving with Boot Camp, what's the point in using it?

  • by Woldry ( 928749 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @12:25AM (#15111216) Journal
    Google Desktop; Firefox and/or Opera; OpenOffice and/or AbiWord; and the requisite antispyware/antivirus apps, of course. Oh, and Google Desktop.
    I also make heavy use of the following:

    ClocX []
    Windows XP PowerToys [] (highly useful, especially TweakUI
    Notify CD [] (bare-bones but elegant CD player)
    ReadPlease [] (text-to-speech)
    Foxit Reader [] (a much faster PDF reader than Adobe)
    Trillian [] (multiple IM)
    foobar2000 [] (audio player)

  • my list (Score:5, Informative)

    by timothv ( 730957 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @12:35AM (#15111263)
    File management/explorer replacement: Directory Opus
    Music: Foobar2000 0.8.3 (iTunes and dumbed down fb2k annoy me)
    Video: Media Player Classic with ffdshow
    Browser: Firefox 1.5 with ~20 extensions
    CD Ripping: Exact Audio Copy (only Windows can rip CDs properly)
    Anti-virus: Avast
    Shell: Cygwin with puttycyg or a local ssh server
    IM: Trillian (needs to be replaced with a Jabber client + aim/yahoo transport)
    Python development: Eclipse with the pydev extension
    IRC: Chatzilla
    BitTorrent: uTorrent
    Webserver: Apache 2
    Archive unpacker: IZArc
    Mail: Thunderbird
    Encryption: Truecrypt
    JPEG manager: iView MediaPro3
    CD/DVD burning: Nero
    Hex editor: XVI32
    Office suite: Office 2003
    Calendar: Outlook 2003
    Virtual drives: Daemon Tools
    Notetaking: Onenote 2003
    Batch image editing: Photoshop CS2
    Spoken dictionary: Encarta 2006 Dictionary Tools
    Audio quality checking: Nero WaveEdit, EncSpot, Audiochecker
    Time syncing: NetTime
    Firewall: Sygate (needs to be replaced)
    Various system tools: Startup, Tweak UI, Filemon, Peerguardian 2, Diskeeper, EVEREST
    Symbolic integration: Mathematica
    Packet sniffing: Ethereal
    This fun game: Typing of the Dead

    And I probably missed a few. Foobar2000, Directory Opus, and Firefox are by far the most amazing.
    • That's a pretty good list. A few of you selections reminded me of some other useful related tools.

      Music: Foobar2000 0.8.3 (iTunes and dumbed down fb2k annoy me)

      Foobar2000 is a great powerful alternative to iTunes, but every new Windows user should know about Exact Audio Copy (EAC) [] for making errorless CD rips. The "jitter correction" in other rippers (like iTunes) is not enough!

      Video: Media Player Classic with ffdshow

      That reminded me of the important fact that Windows XP does not come with a DVD dec

  • Here's a good link. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chalex ( 71702 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @12:42AM (#15111303) Homepage
    Unlike all the useless comments that recommend Adaware and Spybot Search and Destroy, I'll point you towards a thread called "the 'neat application I stumbled across on the web' thread" over on the ArsTechnica OpenForum: pc/f/99609816/m/1400961263 []
  • 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities [] for Windows. Very good list and a good newsletter. Subscribe to the paid newsletter and get more recommendations: Extended list of 81 [].

    Before, Saddam got Iraq oil profits & paid part to kill Iraqis. Now a few Americans share Iraq oil profits, & U.S. citizens pay to kill Iraqis. Improvement?
  • Bonzi Buddy (Score:4, Funny)

    by vzzzbx ( 760756 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @01:52AM (#15111551)
    Bonzi Buddy, CoolWebSearch, anything and everything from Gator/Claria. Best of all it's all free!
  • by JohnnyBigodes ( 609498 ) <morphine AT digitalmente DOT net> on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @02:55AM (#15111747)
    First important app: "How to right-click!" :p :p :P
  • Cygwin (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Baloo Ursidae ( 29355 ) <> on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @03:27AM (#15111852) Journal
    Cygwin [] is nice. One of the first things I do on a Windows box (and about the only thing I ever use IE for) is go to start, run, and type iexplore " []"/code to launch straight into the current setup program and get myself an xterm, a proper shell and openssh to make my workday considerably less painful. Any OSX fan that spends any time in a shell will probably miss the shell before long, Cygwin provides that in Windows. It's too bad cygwin doesn't ship a win32 KDE...not having my keybindings, having the Start and Menu keys working as advertised instead of doing something useful, lack of multiple desktops and just overall rigidness makes Explorer get in the way more than anything...
  • Good news (Score:3, Informative)

    by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @05:06AM (#15112109)
    The good news is that you'll have no problems finding software for Windows. The bad news is that much of it is crap.

    - Cygwin (Bash, SSH, GCC, and other GNU/Linux tools)
    - WinSCP (SCP client)
    - PuTTY (excellent SSH client with tons of options)
    - EmEditor (free version is a great replacement for Notepad)
    - vi (if you like vi)
    - CCleaner (cleans up temp files, browser cache, etc. for tons of programs)
    - Spybot S&D (effective antispyware)
    - Mozilla Firefox or Opera (if you don't like IE; I keep all three for testing)
    - Mozilla Thunderbird (you are using IMAP, aren't you?)
    - Microsoft Office
    - PDFCreator (make PDFs by printing)
    - iTunes (if you have an iPod)
    - K-Lite Mega Codec Pack (every codec you'll need plus Media Player Classic, Quicktime and Real alternatives, and a lot more)
    - Daemon Tools (CD/DVD drive emulator with copy protection circumvention)
    - Ethereal (for network troubleshooting)
    - Nero (CD/DVD burning)
    - RMClock (lets you control PowerNow/Cool 'n Quiet/SpeedStep)
    - EVEREST Home Edition (excellent system information tool)
    - AVG Anti-Virus (Free Edition)
    - Adobe Reader 7.0
    - Windows Desktop Search (corporate edition - without the MSN crap)

    You might also want to install some Windows games - there are plenty to choose from.
  • I'll base these on what other people send documents to us and say we *should* have these in order to do business.

    Internet Explorer - You just cant use the important parts of the internet without it (at least that's what many of the webmasters of sites that refuse to be more compatible say.

    Microsoft Outlook - So you can open all those winmail.dat files people send you.

    Microsoft Excel for Windows - Exspecially for those sheets with macros using active-x components, they insist thier stuff just would just suck without those gems.

    Microsoft Publisher - At work we regularly get .pub documents with the creators getting indignant when we say we can't open it. Of course depending on the sender, they expect you to have the version of publisher THEY have, not always particularly the latest version.

    Microsot Access - Here it is the panacea of all data needs, just about every agency with accidental techies have islads of productivityware using access (ignoring the fact there is no easy way to integrate all these these different islands)

    Webshots - just about every Windows workstation I see in or office runs Webshots, must be an essential utlity.

    The thing that makes smiley icons and patterned backgrounds in Outlook Second to webshots are the outlook emails with all the HTML and embedded gifs, which also advertise the utility that will turn your oulook browser into a similar productive environment.

    Turbo Tax, Tax Cut or Quicken Taxes - apparently we can't do our home taxes without them

    Besides more vertical market "canned applications" for accounting and such that's about it.

  • Here's a few. (Score:3, Informative)

    by amper ( 33785 ) * on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @09:28AM (#15112987) Journal
    I onestly can't believe that after nearly seven hundred comments on this topic, there nothing rated 4 or above that actually addresses the question. Sure, there's lot's of snide comments about the inferiority of Windows, but that's a given. What's not a given is what the questioner was originally asking. So, here's a few of the applications that I personally find indispensible for what I do..and BTW, I'm a Mac guy, an OpenBSD guy, and a Linux guy, much more than I'm a Windows guy.

    1. Visio. The day Microsoft bought Visio, I was *so* pissed off, because I knew that there was then absolutely no chance that Visio would ever be released for Macs. Yes, there are some similar programs on the Mac side (OmniGraffle, ConceptDraw), but none of them can hold a candle to Visio Professional.

    2. Duncan Munro's PSU Designer II and Tone Stack Calculator. Two essential tools for designing electron tube amplifiers that just don't exist on the Mac. Yes, a competent EE could probably figure it out in some horrible version of EDA software on a Mac, but all the Mac EDA packages I've seen are awful. As soon as I free up another machine, I'll try to install gEDA to see if that's any better (Linux or Fink/Mac OS X).

    3. A whole host of software for my Amateur Radio hobby. Yes, there's some stuff out there for the Mac, but the majority of it runs on Windows. Another thing that pisses me off. This also holds true for a vast range of command and control products.

    4. Ross-Tech's VAG-COM software to replace Volkswagen's scan tools. Uwe simply has no interest in porting, not even to Windows CE. Automotive scan tools are another area where all the software I've ever seen runs pretty much only on Windows, with a very few on Palm or WinCE.

    5. TrueAudio's WinSpeakerz. This was originally a Mac program (MacSpeakerz), but development on the Windows side has far outstripped the Mac product. Great for designing loudspeaker systems. Most of the packages for this type of work are Windows-only.

    6. Games? I couldn't care less about games, so this is really a non-issue for me.

    7. VNC. VNC simply works a thousands times better on Windows (or Linux) than it does on the Mac. ...and that's just off the top of my head. I hope Apple sticks with Boot Camp, and Microsoft updates Virtual PC. I'll happily buy two versions of Windows so that I can have seamless integration of Windows with my Macintosh hardware (one for dual boot for extended usage, and one for virtualization for quicky things), but I have a feeling that Apple will eventually pull the project.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.