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You will find in this page some cool Windows freewares (free software) that are of particular value to me... I use most of them daily. Those suggested softwares are, to the my knowledge, clean of any spywares or other dubious components, or they simply wouldnt figure in this list.

Open source softwares are typically free, communauty driven projects programmed and designed by computer enthusiasts, where the source code is open and freely distributed under the GPL license (which permits one to add and compile their own changes or additions and distribute it as long they also provide their own source code). You wont find draconian EULAs (user agreements required to be accepted before installing the software that can violate your consumer rights), spywares or privacy invading functions in these softwares, and you can also communicate with the developpers to report bugs or request features. You can find a good summary of the differences between the GPL and Microsoft license here. Moreover, many major open-source projects are very often cross-platform, which helps your knowledge and familiarity make the transition between different systems, if needed be. I will usually recommend them over other equivalent closed sources products, unless the project has become relatively inactive or abandonned.

For more information on the open source and open standard movement, which covers a lot more technology than windows applications, such as cross platform file format (Ogg, OpenGL, PNG, XML, SVG, etc), web server software (Apache, MySQL, PHP, MajorDomo, etc) and Linux (an entirely free and open operating system), visit gnu.org and W3C. I have also been asked where I found most of these open source softwares for Windows, try this FreshMeat.net listing, SourceForge.net category and GNUWin for a start; the rest comes with general browsing, discussion forums, etc.

Closed source freewares are traditional softwares where the source code is kept private by the creators and only the binary version is distributed (the executable after compilation). They can be the result of a single individual ambitious hobby or a company who is trying to promote a professional version of the product through a "lite" and free, but still capable, version. Some of them have minor annoyances such as ad banners, which I will mention in my description, and it will go against their ratings.

To find other closed-source freewares, visit download.com.com, Freeware Pro or Simtel.com. Some of these are expiring demos and shareware, and some other can have nasty spyware, or clutter your desktop with commercial crap, however. I suggest a good spyware remover in any case.




Open Source




Mozilla 1.3a

Homepage:
mozilla_icon (1K)

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
mozilla_screenshot_thumb (5K)
Mozilla is a great software package containing a HTML/CSS W3C compliant browser, a robust email application with a good address book manager, user friendly multiple accounts manager, integrated bayesian spam filtering and web bugs protection, and, additionally, a graphical HTML 4.0 editor/publisher, a simple IRC chat client and a calendar organizer. Although the browser it is a bit slow and resources hungry, it is fully featured, cross platform (windows, linux, macintosh 9/X, unix, etc) and has great power-user utilities such as cookie managers, anti-popup windows options, images blocking (good for advertising banners), tabbed browsing, smart page information and an extensively customizable interface. A vibrant community of volunteer developpers also create many tiny applications that can be added to the package and add interesting and original functionality (so can you with a little bit of javascript and XUL knowledge). If you already have an email application and only need a browser, you can choose Firefox, which is a streamlined, speedier and lightweigth version of the browser (and to become the new Mozilla browser soon, with Thunderbird as the new separate email client). If you need an internet package that will be impervious to Microsoft worms, viruses, javascript exploits and other famous insecurities, if you need a cross platform solution (or development platform) that looks and feels the same everywhere, if you want to promote internet diversity and standard compliancy, if you prefer open source products to closed source ones, if you're still one of the last person on earth suffering through annoying popup windows, mozilla is a perfect choice. As a good measure, I suggest you back up your settings, like bookmarks and emails (generally located in Documents and Settings/Administrator/application data/mozilla in Windows 2000) every now and then.


CDex 1.4

Homepage:
cdex_icon (1K)

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
cdex_screenshot_thumb (3K)
CDex is a user friendly, no non-sense audio CD extractor to create your own Wavs or MP3s (and many other compressed audio format, such as Ogg, in particular, which is a highly praised free open source file format). It offers many options for your MP3 settings, such ID3 (version 1/2) tags, different file size and quality choices, but doesn't overwhelms you with endless audio preferences. Some other less scrupulous freewares use this software to make extrator clones filled with adware/spywares, so why not get this clean, original version. One suggestion: check the "normalize audio" option so that your volume is constant between your different CD sources. Nothing is as annoying than tuning your speakers between songs.


XChat 1.8.10

Homepage:
XChat

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
Xchat
Xchat is an IRC client (chat network) that was ported directly from an original Unix/Linux program, so you get an unconventional interface (for windows users) that require somme getting used to. It is, however, very capable and offer most of the usual IRC commands (ping, whois, file sending, etc), as well as servers and corresponding channel lists, at the click of a button. It wasn't always stable on my computer though.


FileZilla 2.1.2

Homepage:
filezilla

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
filezilla
Filezilla is a perfect example of open source software targeted at desktop computers: Its is fast, lightweigth, simple, stable, in other words it just does what its supposed to do, and does it well, in the Unix tradition of a single tool for a single task (no bloats). This is a great FTP client for windows, with no fluff, yet powerful, and there's also an FTP server program that accompanies it if you need one. Unless you have very specific needs, I don't see why anyone would use a commercial FTP client when this one is available. You can now download multiple files at the same time, it support resumable transfers (you can quit and it will start again on the next session of you choose to process the queue), you can continue browsing the FTP directories while downloading files, and it uses an simple XML file for the settings, so you can easily back it up. My only unfulfilled wish is an option to synchronize local and remote web sites, and an easily accessible "move files" function (but you can use remote raw ftp commands to go around that). Well, as with most open source programs, maybe I can just ask the developers for those features. This software gets my rare 5 stars, and I use it 20 times a day.


WinSCP2 2.0.0

Homepage:
WinSCP2

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
WinSCP2
WinSCP2 is a neat utility to transfer files using the SSH protocol so that your transfers are encrypted. You can use it on servers that only allow SSH connections (extra secure servers) or you can use it to protect sensitive files during a transfer on your web site. You have the option to use a "Norton Commander" interface type or Explorer interface type. Highly recommended for anyone who cringes at managing files with a command line SSH client.


GLtron

Homepage:
GLtron

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
GLtron
GLtron is a well done 3D game based on the digital moto races in the 80's cult movie (well, for us techies) Tron. It's perfect for that little 20 minutes you need to waste before the pizza comes in, works well on slower and older computer, and the nostalgic factor is greatly appreciated. Nice graphics, cool music, and simple controls makes this quick reflex game a fun freebie to have on your computer. Tip: The mouse, which controls your view independantly of your direction, is a higly valuable skill!


Egoboo

Homepage:
Egoboo

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
Egoboo
Not reviewed yet but looks pretty cool :) Here's the short description from their web site:
Egoboo is a 3d dungeon crawling adventure in the spirit of NetHack. It uses OpenGL and SDL. It should run on any Wintel, Unix, and MacOS X system.


Putty 0.52

Homepage:
Putty

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
Putty
Putty is an SSH command line client and it's pretty much the open source standard on Windows, so it's an unavoidable and necessary utility for any self-respecting webmaster. Their FAQ pages are very informative. Great tool for a little taste of Unix/Linux when managing your web site. Oh, and there's some silly encryption legal issue you might have to consider before downloading it in your country. Check their web site for more. Note: Always use SSH over Telnet over a remote server if you don't want your passwords to be easily snooped by hackers.


OpenOffice 1.0

Homepage:
OpenOffice

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
OpenOffice

I am not a big Office suites user so I will let the web site speak for the product. All I know is it uses open standards for its default file format (XML), as opposed to the bloated proprietary Microsoft Word format that no one can else decipher and that forces people to upgrade every year:

OpenOffice.org is both an Open Source product and a project. The product is a multi-platform office productivity suite. It includes the key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and drawing program, with a user interface and feature set similar to other office suites. Sophisticated and flexible, OpenOffice.org also works transparently with a variety of file formats, including those of Microsoft Office.

Available in 25 languages with more being constantly added by the community. OpenOffice.org runs stably and natively on Solaris, Linux (including PPC Linux), and Windows. Additional ports, such as for FreeBSD, IRIX, and Mac OS X, are in various stages of completion.

You can find more about OpenOffice features here. One nice feature is that it can share your Mozilla address book.



Password Safe 1.7.1

Homepage:
Password Safe

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
Password Safe
Password Safe is a great little utility to manage all your passwords with a single one to remember. You can just copy paste from your list to your web log-in form, for example, so it can also be a form of protection against key loggers. This version is freeware (and closed source) but the newest one, Password Safe 2.0, is an open source project in beta state. I find this utility highly practical and use it countless times a day. The encrypted file for your passwords can also be easily transfered from one computer to another to synchronise between work and home, for example, and you can use many different databases to better manage your lists. It also has a random password generator that will create a good combination of letters, numbers and caracters. Forgive the blurry screenshot, but I'm sure you understand why :)


YahooPOPs! 0.3.9

Homepage:
YahooPOPs!

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
YahooPOPs!
YahooPOPs! lets you download your web based Yahoo! email messages to your favorite email client, such as Mozilla Mail, Outlook, Eudora, etc. It's considerably slower than a normal POP3 account, but you get to use your favorite email application with all its cool features like address books, multiple accounts, search, offline composing/reading and, let's not forget, unlimited hard disk space. Great for anyone who can't get a normail address with their ISP. or wants to use Yahoo! for a public address, or has an old address to check on to now and then, etc. Make sure you have an anti-virus software that checks attachments though, and regarding this matter, my personal opinion is you should avoid Outlook/Outlook Express, because they can execute VB code automatically with badly set configurations (which are usually the default ones with microsoft products), and worse, they execute javascript and display web bugs used in spams to track your behavior. I really like Mozilla Mail, myself, it's free and secure (see Mozilla review).


Analog 5.1

Homepage:
analog 5.1

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
analog 5.1
Analog is an in-depth and powerful logfile analyzer (the logs that trace the activity of your web and ftp site). It is a command line program using text files for configuration, so it is not very user friendly, but it is an essential tool for webmasters. The information can be hard to decipher at first, so you can use other programs that work on top of this one, like Report Magic, another free open-source program, for an easier and more intuitive display.


Really Slick ScreenSavers

Homepage:
Really Slick

Rating:
Star Star Star Star Star
ScreenShot:
Really Slick
Really Slick ScreenSavers are beautiful 3D Open GL screen Savers. They are a bit demanding in terms of resources but it's really worth the download if you have the equipment. Be sure to get them all!


Closed Source