Every time we install or reinstall our operating system (Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7), we find our self in need to install some software, without which, we cannot run our computer properly and with ease. There is a clear distinguishing between the must install applications and the ones with your choice. So here is a list of the must-installed apps, which are, to me unavoidable.
As a first step of computing you should be able to run all your hardware properly. To do so all, your OS requires device drivers for all the present hardware.
Where to find your device drivers ?
Generally it comes with the hardware you buy as CD / DVD but in order to extract better performance from your hardware or when you are changing your OS (eg, Windows XP to Windows Vista), you may need to visit website of the device manufacturer to obtain the latest drivers.
Runtime libraries enables us to execute applications developed in different development platforms. For example, you may need Adobe Flashplayer to view/ execute flash content which is the building blocks for most of the websites.
Which runtime libraries do you need ?
Security software (AntiVirus / AntiSpyware / Firewall)
Where do you get security software ?
There are many security companies offering AntiVirus (AVS) and AntiSpyware software solutions. For example, Norton Internet Security / Kaspersky Internet Security / ESET NOD32 / McAfee Anti Virus Solution / Trend Micro PC-Cillin / Bit-Defender / Microsoft Live OneCare / Avast (Freeware) / Grisoft AVG (Freeware).. Find more @ Wikipedia / Microsoft Knowledge Base
Multi Media Player / Codecs
As a default application, every windows (apart from the “N” versions) comes with an integrated media player, the famous Windows Media Player. But in today’s media standards it lacks the ability to play all the different codecs.
What is Codec ?
A Codec is a software / technique that can compress a large media file for different platforms and enables us to decompress it later on as a playable format. For example, in the mobile platform, 3GP codec is widely used for video playback, where as in PMP (Portable Media Player) MP3 is a very popular audio codec.
By default the WMP cant play popular codecs like XVid / DivX / AVI / MKV / MP4. However if you can provide the WMP with decompression information (Installing the proper codec packs) about these codecs, then it can play any available media.
Where to find codec packs ?
Alternate Mediaplayers !!
Apart from codec packs there is another option for playing media files created with different codecs is to use alternate mediaplayers. Players like VLC / Media Player Classic / Real Player can play virtually any type of media format.
Windows XP users please note, in case of WinXP SP3, the popular most OS nowadays, comes with WMP 9 series by default which you can update either by downloading the latest version WMP 11 or via Windows update service.
IM (Instant Messaging) Clients
These are the software tools that help us communicate with others users (having IM Clients) over the internet.
One can stay in touch with friends and family from any part of our world via Text / Voice / Video Chat, that too free of cost (ISP charges may apply). Some popular IM Clients are Windows Live / Yahoo Messenger / Google Talk / or any universal chat clients like Pidgin.
Via these services one can also do file transferring.
PDF is a file format by which most of the documents over internet are exchanged. This types of files are un-editable so provide more security.
The file format is developed by Adobe and one can obtain the Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.
We always have a default download manager that comes with every browser installation but that is not just enough with download speeds and download handling. So getting a download manager or download accelerator to increase the download speed is much needed. These applications also let us pause the downloads for a while and resume it later on according to our needs.
Maintenance Software / Applications
Conducting an uninterrupted computing obviously involves maintenance of the system. That let us free up hard disc space, clean unused Registry files, Tune up the PC, optimise the settings to increase the computing speed, performance as well as stability.
So apart from OS and software service packs / updates, one needs to have some Maintenance Software / Applications for performing these tasks at ease, one of which sis, CCleaner, a single click maintenance software along with Defraggler for defragmenting your hard drive.
That wraps up our 10 must install Software list but still one may feel some important apps missing, like CD DVD burner (Nero) / P2P Clients (uTorrent) / HTML Editors (NotePad++) / Compression Tools (WinRAR) / Blogging Tools (Live Writer) / Remote Support (Team Viewer) / Virtual PDF Creator (doPDF) / Gaming Utilities (Demon Tools) / Multimedia Apps and editing tools (Adobe Creative Suite).