10 Must-Have Windows Applications You Should Install First
OK, you got your brand new Windows device (or just reinstalled the system, being tired of its bugs and trash in folders). Your documents are stored in your cloud or on removable media (at least so we hope). But all the software is gone. What to install first?
Microsoft Store, of course, will offer a lot of apps like Facebook or WhatsApp, but you can have it all as online services. Here we list the applications you’ll really need on your computer, those that can’t be replaced by web pages.
Google Chrome: The Default Browser of 2010s
To tell the truth, Microsoft Edge is no more than clumsy ersatz browser that Internet Explorer used to be. But still, it’s a half not as easy and convenient as Google Chrome. Not only is the product of Google optimized for one-click search and easy visuals. It also looks great as its controlling elements take as little space as possible. Combining search and address fields was a revolution; now it’s a common point. That indicates the influence Chrome had on the industry recently.
Now Chrome isn’t as lightweight as it was in 2008, but it has a lot of other pros. Extensions support, cloud cross-platform syncing (especially if you use Android mobile devices, but it’s available for iOS as well), password manager and generator, and other pros. And to tell the truth: we got quite used to it in these ten years.
There’s only one reason not to install it: you don’t trust Google. Then you have two more major options: Firefox (if it’s just Google you want to keep away from) or Tor (for hiding from virtually all).
The default office suite of 2018 has to include a text processor, a presentation editor, and a spreadsheet tool. That’s what LibreOffice offers absolutely for free. It also includes a vector graphics editor (a basic replacement for CorelDRAW, so forget about Paint), a formulae editing tool and a database manager.
Being a fork of OpenOffice project, LibreOffice supports a lot of office formats, including Microsoft Office files, ODT documents, and other standards. Its interface resembles rather MS Office before introducing ribbon style, but if you’re old-school a bit, you’ll even like it. Besides that, LibreOffice requires much less space on your drive.
In fact, there’s only one reason not to prefer it to Microsoft Office. If you really need cloud features provided by Office 360, LibreOffice is no alternative to it at all. But at anything else, it’s just as good as any commercial suite.
Panda Free Antivirus
There is an extensive list of cloud antiviruses that fill the holes left by Windows Defender. Panda is one of the most attractive antivirus services. Due to cloud integration, you won’t have to update databases or spend your performance for constant checking: it’s all done up in the cloud.
Besides checking your PC and detecting malware, Panda Antivirus offers rescue kit and USB check tool that disables malware trying to infect your PC from media. The features of Panda Free Antivirus are quite basic, but probably you won’t need more.
Spotify: Music Unlimited
Having a good local musical library is good when you’re offline. But why buy all of the tracks if there’s a better option? Spotify subscription brings you unlimited access to its catalog you can listen to in a streaming mode. In fact, being cross-platform and easy to use, it’s now considered the best streaming service, even better than Google Play Music or iTunes.
Along with saving your space, Spotify can generate random playlists in style you might like. Based on your marked preferences, these playlists may help you discover new tracks and artists. One account applies both for PC and mobile devices. And the monthly price seems more than reasonable: $9.99 for a single account and $14.99 for a family account. In fact, it’s about the price of one music CD (if you remember what it is).
The only thing to complain about is streaming quality. Quite decent at home or any place where bandwidth is sufficient, it may fail at the unstable connection. Well, you can cache some tracks to make them available offline.
FastStone Image Viewer: Including Free Photo Editor
This strange title will discover one of the greatest image viewers by now. Being completely free and including no ads, it supports a massive list of graphics formats, offers its own file manager, full-screen view, slideshow, sharing tools and so on.
The best part of it is the built-in editor that satisfies most basic needs. It allows to crop, rotate or mirror pictures, edit its parameters like color, brightness or saturation, add texts or stickers and so on. It’s no Photoshop, of course, but for common users it’s almost enough.
We’d also recommend a screenshot tool by the same developer. This one is paid, but it’s worth it due to wide possibilities and good quality. And it shares the same interface logic with FS Image Viewer, so you won’t spend time on mastering it.
VLC: The Most Versatile Video Handler
Of course, Windows has its own video player, but, with our right hand on the mouse: it’s poor. Most third-party solutions are better, but VLC is probably the best for now. Developed by Videolan enthusiast group, it’s completely free and contains no ads. Yet it can play virtually all video and audio formats offers easy controls and smooth playback even with dated hardware.
It’s hard to find a video VLC won’t play. Even if it’s corrupted or download is unfinished, chances are VLC will play as much of it as possible. The same is with audio files (though audio playback isn’t VLC’s pro)
The player is also available for mobile devices, so you can unify your video experience on your (say) PC, iPad, and Android phone.
The most simplistic audio playing app is a complete must if you like to listen to high-quality music. While Spotify is perfect at providing musical background and discovering new names, Foobar 2000 is the player that gets the most out of it. Download what you’ve found in some lossless format or purchase a CD, and then listen to it with the best quality possible.
Foobar 2000 supports MP3 as well as lossless audio formats, playing almost like the original CD or vinyl it’s been ripped from. It can interpret .CUE files for playing tracks from a solid rip. But you can as well just drag audio files on it, and it will add them to its playlist.
This player is completely free, and it supports extensions that make it open to new formats or allow new modes of playback. With the simplest interface possible, it can be customized with skins you can download.
CCleaner: Keep Your System Slim
As you keep using Windows, it gets more and more trashy. Documents and downloads, removed applications and program cache – it all requires space, it all slows down the system and may cause troubles. CCleaner is one of the best tools for keeping your system clean.
As you install CCleaner, it keeps track of your system changes, so it will know what files to remove and what folders to clean without bad consequences. It also cleans out errors in the system registry and controls cookies and trackers on websites you visit. The cleaning process can be scheduled so you don’t have to run it manually.
The application is available for all active Windows versions. It’s available in Free and Professional versions: while the latter requires an annual subscription, the former is completely free.
Dropbox: Cloud #1
It revolutionized working with documents when it just appeared. Having no need to sync your docs manually was worth a lot. Add also version history, adjustable access, sharing photos, API for third-party apps, and you’ll see why Dropbox is still #1 cloud service.
The app runs in the background and can be accessed from the system tray. In its settings, you can select what folders to sync to your PC, so you only get updated what you really need. The app also can help with backing up your docs from any folder or application. For example, you can install it on your smartphone and get the photos you make right on your OC without any manual syncing, whatever system it be.
The only place where it falls short is space. 2 GB is about nothing in 2018. You can extend it either by inviting friends or (it’s no secret anyway) multiplying accounts. Or subscribe and get much more cloud storage.
Foxit PDF Reader
While you can read .PDF files with any web browser, you may need a more powerful tool for it. FOXIT offers a third-party solution that works even better than the official one. At least, the system performance is not so crucial for it.
With FOXIT reader you can open and browse .PDF files, search for text within them, share a document or its part to OneNote or other application, comment any fragment of it, fill-and-sign, and so on. There is even more freedom when you get connected to cloud services: for example, text can be translated using online translators, sent via any application or shared within.
By the way, the application can be equipped with plugins allowing to view MS Office documents and presentations, integrate with the Windows context menu, check spelling and so on. But even as a basic PDF tool FOXIT reader is a great solution, better than Acrobat by Adobe.
While this list is not made to satisfy any specific needs, it covers most tasks an average user has to perform on their PC. All these applications are available for Windows 7 and fresher editions, up to the most recent Windows 10 update.
There is always something to add. We left overboard applications that can be replaced by its browser versions (from Facebook to Flipboard) but offered three media players for local or streaming playback. Basically, a PDF viewer or office suite can be replaced by browser too (with a little help from online services), but the experience differs drastically, so here they are.
If you think we missed something or know a better alternative to any of the listed, leave a comment below!