Five types of software to install on a new Windows PC

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Microsoft has been the major and the most profited (I guess) player in the computer market. Apple has its Mac series of desktop computers and MacBook series of laptop computers which run on Mac OS. But people who dont prefer Mac go for Windows. Gamers, usually, and casual users, and some kinds of programmers prefer Windows over Mac. Anyway, when you get a new Windows PC, the vendor or the manufacturer of the computer ships it with a Windows OS with some extra manufacturer-specific software, often known as bloatware (some people use a more aggressive word “crapware”).

This aggression is because you usually dont need those extra software that ships with your computer, and those software take up system resources degrading the computer’s performance. However, have you thought why manufacturers spend so much time and money in developing those unwanted software? This is because even though Windows is one the great operating systems, it does not fully cater to users’ needs.

So, you will have to install a few software to make the PC suitable for your needs. This post deals with five such basic software that every windows PC needs to have. Below are the five types of software:

PDF logo1. PDF Reader

If you are accustomed to using internet a lot, you would have observed that most of the documents you get on the internet are PDF documents. You even get to download them. PDF is such a popular format because its gives a great deal of security to the documents. You can only view the file and and write into it or edit it if you dont have the permission. So, everyone uses PDF as the file format for sharing documents on the internet.

This makes it very important to have a PDF reader on your computer. There are a lot of software which allow you to open PDF documents. You can download the freely available Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is also one of the most popular ones. Acrobat Reader gives you some good features as well. There is also NitroPDF, which is also very popular. People say (I have never used it) that it will also allow you to create and edit PDF files.

If you want to create PDF files, you can buy Adobe Acrobat Reader X, or use NitroPDF as I already mentioned. Or, if you have Office 2007 installed, you can just download the “SaveAsPDFandXPS” plugin for Office which is free. Once installed, you can save your Word documents as PDF documents, this will however show some degradation in the quality of the document. If you have Office 2010, saving as PDF is a native option.

Anti-Malware Logo2. Anti-malware software

Security is one of the main priorities when you are using your computer, may be for professional purposes, or personal purposes. You dont want any of your secret info to be leaked out which can be used against you. And with connectivity options increasing so rapidly, you will be connected to one or the other network most of the times. This leaves you very vulnerable to attacks.

So, when/if you get attacked, its good if you have a software which can report such activity to you so that you can stop that from happening. If this is your priority, you better get yourself an anti-malware software. Your new Windows PC will come with either a 1 month or 6 month trail version of an anti-virus software. This may or may not contain an anti-malware module. You can check for it and if it does have one, you can it till the trail period expires and then buy it to continue using it.

If you are not satisfied with the software that came pre-installed or if that does not contain an anti-malware module, you can get another software for that. There are a lot of free and paid anti-malware software available on the internet. You can just make a search to get one.

Media Player logo3. Media Player

One of the uses of a computer is entertainment. I will not believe you if you say you never use your PC to play music or videos, or movies. So, for entertainment, you need the have a good software package that supports every format you have. Audio files usually come in the popular MP3 format and the stock Windows Media Player does a very good job in handling that. But still, if you are not satisfied with the performance or the options, you can turn your attention into other freely available software which offer a plethora of options.

Winamp is one of the oldest and popular alternatives to Windows Media Player. If you come with a compute background in the 90′s, you might have used Winamp a lot, I have. You can give it a try. There are both free and paid versions, the free version will be more than enough though. But if you are not satisfied with this, you can have a look at Foobar as well. Foobar has been gaining a lot of attention and fans from the last couple of years. It is now the most popular media player for Windows.

That covers the audio part of entertainment. Video part is the most important one. Windows Media Player is a good video player, but only for the formats which it supports, and that count is very low. Windows Media Player does not support most of the video formats available today. For example, even though it supports AVI, there are some types of AVI files which the Windows Media Player just reject to do anything with. For such situations you need to have a good alternative.

Finding the one that suits you will take some time, because there are just many of them. Popular ones include VLC Player, KM Player, Media Player Classic, GOM Player, and a few others. All of these are good ones and each has its one pros and cons. For example, VLC Player boots the audio in a video more than its original level, but some people just dont like its keyboard shortcuts. Another example would be that KM Player has good keyboard shortcuts, but it sometimes pixelates the video on some computers.

So you just have to use them all to get to know which one suits you best. All these are free software, and if you want, there are paid software as well. which you probably will not need.

4. Web Browser

Web Browser Logos

People usually think that a power user will need a third party web browser on a Windows PC. I strongly disagree with that statement. Windows’ stock Internet Explorer is a good internet browser, no doubt. And it is still surprisingly the most used internet browser. In fact, most people still use Internet Explorer 6. Even though the latest Internet Explorer 9 has great improvements when compared to IE 6 or even IE 8, its still not ready to used as the primary web browser. I strongly recommend using a third party web browser as your primary internet browsing tool. You can keep Internet Explorer as your second choice, if you need one.

When it comes to choosing a web browser, it all comes down to personal opinions. Just like the video player we discussed above, there are various web browsers available freely and each has its own merits and demerits. The most popular ones are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Safari for Windows. All these are good. Mozilla is the most used third party web browser, Google Chrome is over taking it pretty rapidly though. Opera is good, but not the best. If you are want to the best and the futuristic features in these web browsers, you can download the dev channel versions which give you the beta versions of the respective  browsers. This means you will be using the software which is not yet available as a stable version. But let me tell you, you will face a lot of issues as these will still be under development.

You can either read the reviews of these browsers or better, try them yourself to find out which suits you the best.

5. Other Essentials

Other essentials include stuffs like your network printer driver, accessory support software, and others. If you have a smartphone or a MP3 player, you will need to have a software which helps you use that device when you connect it to your computer. For smartphones, you will get something called a PC suites, which usually comes in a CD with your smartphone. This can also be freely downloaded from the manufacturers’s website. And if you have a MP3 player or a media player, iPod for instance, you’ll need the software which recognizes it on your computer. iTunes in this instance.

These types of software come under the other essentials section. You may not use them on a daily basis, but when you need to use them, they are very important to be present on your computer. These again pertain to individual interests and needs. If you dont have an iPod, you dont need to have iTunes installed (unless you like it as a media player that is).

So, that covers the five important types of software you need to install on a new Windows PC. Hope this has helped you. If you want me to add more to this list, feel free to leave a comment.

A good next step would be to consider MCP certification.

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