Path: Computer > Free Software
A lot of people think that they have to pay for all the software they intend to use. For a large chunk of available programs that assumption is plain wrong. Freeware, in its many guises, is actually the next best thing to a free lunch (although Micro$oft would surely not agree): it's software that's useful, that works (sometimes even better than payware, their commercial counterparts) — and it's really free. Just download the stuff and enjoy!
Indeed, in many areas there's now such a plethora of competing free programs that it's actually getting difficult to separate the chaff from the wheat. What's more, a lot of the so-called “freeware” is nowadays more a vehicle for all sorts of odious stuff, like adware, spyware, trojans and worse. So even if freeware _is free, it pays to be vigilant and to check, before indiscriminately downloading a ton of stuff, that the programs are actually worthwhile.
That's where my (relatively) short list of freeware I use comes in handy: this is an attempt to condense my nearly twenty years of experience with free software into a usable guide for others. It's not a list that tries to be as comprehensive as possible, just the other way round: I've included only those freeware programs that I think are outstanding and that I constantly use myself (many of them indeed on a daily basis). For complete newcomers to the freeware scene, I have also written a quick'n'dirty page with a few basic explanations and hints.
Last but not least, a word about what, in my opinion, makes good freeware:
- it has to be free:-)
- it should be small with no or only a lightweight installation procedure
- it should use its own directory (or even better a user-defined directory) and not the Windows registry to store defaults and options
- it should run just as well from an USB stick
- it should be cleverly designed and implemented, not like some bloatware from the big names
A tall order, I agree, but amazingly most freeware succeeds. That is more than I can say about the big boys' software. (Actually, Microsoft applications ain't too bad. They're neither fancy nor especially imaginative but they tend to work as expected. If you want to use a piece of really bad software, install something, anything from Symantec. IMHO, of course:-).)
$updated from: Free Software.htxt Wed 18 Apr 2012 16:02:46 thomasl (By Thomas Lauer)$