There are a few free programs that I install on any MS Windows PC that I touch. The list that follows will include download links and a brief description. More details will follow in my individual posts for each program.
The very first program I install on every system I touch. It's an excellent multi-format compressed-file handler with a built-in file manager that has both single-pane and dual-pane view modes. This makes it much easier to copy or move files or install new programs. There are more fully-functional file managers, but 7-Zip does things that the others cannot. My later article discussing 7-Zip is here.
The Windows-integrated Internet Explorer (IE) web browser is an insecure mess. Firefox beats it on speed, security, and extensibility via add-ons; it's also much more standards-compliant than IE. There are occasional sites that still need IE, but those numbers are shrinking.
Another must-have. It's a flexible graphics-file viewer that can handle a broad variety of filetypes, especially if you add the plug-ins available as a separate download from the same sources. It also includes simple-but-useful graphics-file editing tools.
I like music. Windows can multi-task. If I'm on broadband, I like to go to SHOUTcast or Icecast and "tune in" a music stream while I work. WinAmp is an excellent player for streaming music and video, though I prefer VLC for video. Grab a few skins to vary the way it looks. My later article discussing WinAmp is here.
That's it for this installment. There's more to come!