Must have software for Windows

Tips n Tricks, Tools

I happened to reinstall the OS on my system (yet again) and there is a set of software that I install after every OS re-install. In fact I have a “Must Have” directory which has all the software’s that I use on a day to day basis.

Here is my list of “must have” applications for Windows. I am also mentioning it in the order of install of these applications.

Kaspersky Antivirus

The first thing to do after reinstalling an OS (or before you connect to the Internet) is to install a good Antivirus  and a AntiSpyware application.Kaspersky I currently have a 2 year subscription of Kaspersky and its one of the best AV applications that I have used so far.

There are a lot of quality free Antivirus software out there, but this has been one area where I am not willing to take risk by opting for a free alternative. I’ve had bad experience using some of the free alternatives and even some of the paid ones such as Norton gave me a lot of trouble.

Kaspersky takes the least amount of memory and CPU and also does the best job when finding/detecting viruses. No wonder its rated in the top in almost all the Antivirus reviews !

For spyware, as of now I am relying on Windows Defender which comes pre-installed with Vista ! Not sure if I am taking a risk here πŸ™‚

Mozilla Firefox

Unfortunately the OS (Windows XP/Vista) does not come pre-installed with this powerful browser and I do have to install it separately ! FirefoxAlso thanks to the continuous updates, I always download the latest version rather than choosing the installable in my “Must Have” directory !

Few years back if you happened to visit a browsing center, you would only find IE installed on all the systems. When I used to ask about Firefox, I always used to get “What is that” expression ! Now I see that Firefox is also installed by default. Yes more users are now aware of this browser and rightly so !

I am not going to explain the choice of this browser; If you are a Firefox user you know the reason, if you are not, you better switch and start using Firefox !

And if you also happen to reinstall your system OS every now and then, do remember to backup the bookmarks via the Bookmark Manager !


This is again a shareware application, but I do have a registered copy of WinRar and its way better than WinZip. Especially while handling the CAB or the JAR files I find WinRar very useful. 7Zip is a free alternative if you don’t want to shell out money for WinRar.

Free Download Manager

Free Download Manager

When it comes to download managers, you again have a lot of options. I have tried most of them and have finally settled on Free Download Manager. It has the best user interface and does not run any Ads !

I do find the community options annoying is one feature that I turn off during the installation.

Do remember to run the “Optimization master” (found under options menu) to get the best download experience possible via FDM !


If you are keyboard junkie then you would definitely like Launchy. It’s one powerful application launcher and have written more about this app in my earlier post.

Read my earlier post on Launchy !


I hate web based RSS readers, they are slow and UI is sluggish compared to the desktop based readers. Of the desktop based readers, I love FeedDemon for its simple yet powerful user interface and the synchronization feature ! What more, its free and a must have if you don’t like Google Reader πŸ™‚

Read my earlier post on FeedDemon !

VLC Media Player/iTunes

VLC Media PlayerAh ! I hate the inbuilt Windows Media Player ! I end up seeing the “codec” error almost every time I play a video (which is not AVI ! ).

This is when VLC Media Player comes to my rescue ! It’s a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, etc) as well as DVDs, VCD’s, and various streaming (RTSP) protocols.

I also install iTunes to manage my iPod and the loaned iPhone !

Notable Alternative: Zoom Player

Google Talk

Google Talk is the only IM client that I use ! Yes I’m done with Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger ! Google Talk is light on memory and has almost all the features I need from a IM client; Presence, Chat History, Sharing files etc. And I love the way it delivers IM even though I have logged in from more than one location !


This app might not be required as soon as you re-install the OS, but does come in handy over the period of time. The default “Disk cleanup” feature in Windows does almost nothing compared to CCleaner ! And yes it does the cleanup work pretty fast too !


TextPad saves you the pain of installing an editor for every other file format ! Want to open a CSS file, PHP file, HTML file,  a properties file or even a file with no extension, TextPad comes in handy.

Notable Alternatives: Notepad++ and PSPad

Windows Live Photo Gallery

Live photo gallery is one of the applications from the Live family that is worth loading. No Google love here;I prefer this app over Picasa for a number of reasons !

Read my earlier post on Photo Gallery to know why ! 


If you download a lot of stuff from torrent a lightweight BitTorrent client is a must ! Even though I don’t download much data from Torrent sites, I have used Β΅Torrent a couple of times !

The install size is pretty small and even the memory usage is pretty low compared to the other BitTorrent clients !

Foxit PDF Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader is a pain to use; its slow and more often than not it freezes the browser (including Firefox). Though there are extensions in Firefox to avoid this, nothing has been done to improve the Reader loading speed. It’s one of the reasons I have settled on Foxit for opening PDF documents. Its amazingly fast and its a must have if you open a lot of PDF documents !

Read my earlier post on Foxit !

Note: The below mentioned applications might make more sense if you author a blog


There are a lot of quality FTP clients for windows and I have settled on FileZilla for its simplicity. You have a site manager feature, if you do connect to a lot of different FTP servers and transferring of files between the server and client is damn easy (Even drag and drop onto the server is supported)


WinSCP is a free SFTP and SCP client for Windows. Unlike FTP clients, there aren’t many quality clients out there supporting SCP on Windows. When I edit any of the files on my server I always do it via WinSCP. Editing a file on the server opens the same on a SCP editor and a save on the file automatically puts back the file on the server.

WinSCP also has come in handy for me to transfer files between my iPhone and the PC !

The good thing about WinSCP is that it does come with a standalone version which can be copied and run from your USB drive !

Windows Live Writer

Almost every blog writer has fell in love with this Microsoft product ! Live Writer simplifies the task of writing and publishing posts !

Read this to know why Live writer rocks !

The following is the other list of software that I install and have mentioned separately since they are not the “must have”

  1. SharePod – Used to copy songs between iPod and PC

What does your list look like ?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Harish Apr 20, 2008 Link

    my list is almost the same (except for the blogging tools and the free alternative of AV). But as far as a download manager goes, I prefer Flashget. Atleast when i lasr used both these (i.e. when i was still using windows πŸ˜€ ), i found flashget a better alternative to FDM.

  • shitu Apr 20, 2008 Link

    i think Free Download Manager is not that much good you should try Internet Download Manager.
    Same with Utorrent .Bitcomet is good

  • abhishek bhatnagar Apr 20, 2008 Link

    looks a cool list….but i would like idm instead of fdm and notepad++ instead of textpad…neways good post.

  • TheAnand Apr 20, 2008 Link

    really awsome list……co-incedently i was trying to figure out what next for my uncles new laptop πŸ™‚

    you could have split this into two posts….

  • PAStheLoD Apr 21, 2008 Link

    Some comment copy/paste from digg (I’m sleepy and lazy at the same time, sry :))

    For Firefox the downThemAll extension is works great, no need for the DL manager, though that can come handy sometimes.

    Get a G15 and you won’t need Launchy ^-^

    GoogleReader is a bit more useful than feedDaemon, IMHO, plus it’s always with you πŸ™‚

    I’d include the Java and Flash redist. packages, and foobar2000 or Songbird (it’s at 0.6 beta, getting coooler by the moment!444 ;] ) And jkDefrag and IrfanView for making sandwiches and coffee.

    Plus where’s Thunderbird.. sometimes Gmail is just not an option.

    And why not use AVG Free instead of Kaspersky? I’m having absolutely 0 viruses for the last few years anyway (:

  • venukb Apr 21, 2008 Link

    Will definitely try FlashGet and Internet download manager ! A comparison post is coming up soon πŸ™‚

    Harish, which AV are you using ?

    Yes I have mentioned notepad++ as an alternative. Its just that I have been introducted to Textpad first and more comfortable with this app. I have tried out PsPad, looks more featureful !

    Glad to know that the timing of the post was right πŸ™‚

    Remember trying downThemAll extension, not sure why I didn’t continue with it, will checkout again.

    G15 ? 100$ Nah will stick to Launch for now πŸ™‚ Also looks more of a gaming keyboard !

    Regarding mail client, I have always found it easier to use Gmail rather than a client especially if you access mail from multiple computers.
    When Gmail did come up with IMAP support, I quicky switched to a desktop client but found it way too slow πŸ™‚ (especially the synching of lables etc)

    Thunderbird is one of my favorite, I liked Windows Live Mail too ..

    AVG free, how is the CPU and memory usage of this AV ?

  • PAStheLoD Apr 22, 2008 Link

    Yeah, gaming benefits the most from the G15, but the LCD and the volume potmeter is cool even if you don’t game πŸ™‚

    Ah, IMAP is a little frustrating with Gmail, but with Tbird you have a ton of filters, otherwise you wouldn’t have.

    I personally don’t use AVG Free, but last time I checked (installed on other ppl’s box) it needed resources next to nothing.

  • Geoserv Apr 22, 2008 Link


    Nice list, I have most of them.

    VOTED for this post at:

  • TechAddict Apr 22, 2008 Link

    My list mostly matches yours.

    You are indeed a brave soul to live without a separate anti-spyware program. It’s usually one of the first things I install on a new PC. I personally use Spybot Search & Destroy. It’s been around for a while, and detects other types of malware infections as well.

    I have used AVG Free for a while as well. Resource usage is quite low, and it will detect any virus I throw at it. Disable the startup scan and you’re all set.

    Long live G-Mail!

    This is an excellent post.

  • Raj Apr 22, 2008 Link

    I already use some of these softwares. I use Norton though because it came with the laptop and I just keep renewing the subscription. I use Flashget for downloads. I use Bloglines beta as my feedreader. I am a satisfied user of WinSCP & Β΅Torrent. Can’t believe I used the resource hog Azureus earlier.

    I wanted to try Windows Live Gallery after you wrote about it first but the live universal installer refuses to install it on my comp for some reason.

  • Ralph Apr 24, 2008 Link

    I don’t like kaspersky I use avast instead, apart from that I use almost all of the other softwares you mentioned. Great list.

  • venukb Apr 25, 2008 Link

    Will definitely check on AVG Free Edition.

    Yes I am relying on Windows Defender to protect me ! Also I am assuming that Vista is more secure that XP πŸ˜‰

    Even I had NAV which came with the laptop, but after trying out Kaspersky I feel that its way better than NAV.
    Regarding Windows Live, check if the following KB article is of some use

    Not sure why you didn’t like Kaspersky ! Will definitely check on Avast.

  • Harish Apr 25, 2008 Link

    I use AVG anti virus and Zone alarm as a firewall. But since i hardly log on to windows, ive been fortunate enough to have not been affected with a virus for atleast a year (i havent reinstalled windows for more than a year, which in itself is a record atleast for me :D)

  • Christina Jul 23, 2008 Link

    Well, my list looks very similar to yours except for the AV part πŸ™‚ I use AVG which is free and I’ve found it to do a great job… so far anyways! Though obviously everyone has his opinion, right? Good list πŸ™‚

  • Jason Oct 14, 2008 Link

    I really like some software named izarc it lets you open virtually anything that is compressed. Sometimes it’s nice to just open the driver exe and get just the driver out. It even opens ISO’s. It’s free too.

  • Antony Oct 21, 2008 Link

    like most of the applications you have put down but i keep wmp and just download K-lite which has every codec you will ever need lol and i have used mff but still prefer ie didnt find any difference in performance and i dont like the way it downloads but the themes you can out on are awsome … and a good freeware ad-ware security program is Ad-Ware 2007 which i have found has got me outta some sticky situations which norton couldnt do =S anyway i will stop if not go on forever =D

  • venukb Oct 22, 2008 Link

    Christiana – Many have suggested AVG for AV. As I mentioned earlier, one thing which I didn’t want to take risk was w.r.t to virues and hence opted for a paid one πŸ™‚

    Jason – Will definitely give IZARC a shot !

    Antony – I have no other complaint on WMP except the startup speed. IE is defintely slow to load and use compared to Chrome which I am currently using, though I accept that IE8 looks cleaner compared to previous versions.

  • Dickson Nov 29, 2008 Link

    Why not try YouTubeGet? Download YouTube Videos to PC.

  • pepcoy Dec 2, 2008 Link

    actually ur list very impressive, anyhow I am looking for suggestion about
    – what do you thing bout NOD32
    -Looking for anti spywre that can be match with Karpesky or NOD32
    -any comment or suggestion to use or better not to use internet booster/optimizer .

    thanks a lot

  • Will Dec 10, 2008 Link

    Nice list… I’d add Unlocker to it, and perhaps the app πŸ˜›

  • Bruce Jan 2, 2009 Link

    Great list. I would include Imgburn, DvdShrink and DvdDecrypter for burning; AVG Free, Spybot for protection and although it’s an OS, Ubuntu can be installed in windows and it’s easy to set up a dual boot system so people can get a feel for Linux if they want.

  • venukb Jan 28, 2009 Link

    Hadn’t heard of Unlocker; Will definitely try.

    Yeah I do agree, the list lacks multimedia tools. Yeah I have used Ubuntu in the past, but my favorite Linux Distribution has always been SUSE πŸ™‚

  • Although I agree that Kaspersky is an excellent antivirus, I don’t agree that it is the best spyware prevention software. Spyware Cease outperformed every spyware blockers program that we tested for removing spyware/adware/malware etc.. In the very rare exception that they do not remove whatever it is whatever spyware threat your computer is infected with, they will design a custom solution just for you. It is part of their 100% removal guarantee. The anti-spyware software is also equipped with advanced anti-rootkit technology as well as real time guard. I have not seen an antispyware program be so effective as this one.

  • Nikolai Jun 24, 2009 Link

    I prefer this list. Its a little long, but covers every program on my computer. Obviously, I don’t have very many, and most of them are licensed. This is a very nice setup for people who spend their lives at their personal computer like me!
    – Norton Internet Security (many people say this is terrible, and I used to use Avast!, but Norton is much easier to manage. Anyone have anything lighter, let me know!)
    – Microsoft Office 2007 (I enjoy using Microsoft products on Windows because I like to have everything from the same company.) From Office 2007 I use the following individual programs:
    -Adobe Creative Suite (I have hobbies where CS4 comes in handy. I don’t use it often, but it really helps when I do!)
    ~Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection
    -uTorrent (Mentioned above, a must have if you use torrents!)
    -MasterCook Deluxe (I am the designated chef at my house, so it helps to have a way to organize my recipes)
    -Windows Live suite (The complete suite available from the website. Except for the security program, forgot the name, I use all of these programs every day)
    -7-Zip File Manager (Free .zip and .rar file manager, with much more capability than WinZip or WinRar.)
    -Belarc Advisor (Whenever I need to see what requirements my computer has or needs, I start Belarc and in minutes have a complete overview of my computer hardware & software, including all the updates for Windows, program versions, and more. Extremely powerful!)
    -vLite (I am a freak for modding, and whenever I need to change my Vista setup, I pop this in and get a new .iso for it, then run the new OS in VMWare. I run VMWare in a Windows XP host stripped down to use barely any resources.)
    -VMWare (mentioned above, this is helpful to run multiple OSes without having to reboot to change them, plus, it lets me test any new programs or mods I made before I put them on my physical drive and blow the thing apart)
    And last but, most definately not least:
    -Command Promp (Sure it’s built into Windows, but it is an extremely powerful tool to keep my computer in top form. I use it mostly to clean up any old files lying on the HDD.)

  • DavidLi Jul 8, 2009 Link

    This is a great list, most of them are installed on my computer. but if you download flash video, why not try Flash Video Capture

  • Crucio Jul 9, 2009 Link

    a great list, i totally agree with kaspersky, an excellent anti-virus and internet security tool, but I use orbit grab as my download manager, its great as far as i know, though i dunno much about memory usage..:P

  • Allen Sep 3, 2009 Link

    list looks cool… but CCleaner is not so much good… Acc to mine PC Optimizer Pro is good as comparison to this …

  • Elijah Sep 10, 2009 Link

    I’d recommend PolyEdit Lite. It’s a free word processor for Windows comparable to AbiWord.

  • Jai McDonald Mar 16, 2010 Link

    This list is great. I have pretty much an identical list that I keep burnt on a CD called “Essential Programs”. Basically the minimum programs you need to be able to do everything on the net and otherwise. Of course Flash plug-in, and all that stuff will be automatically installed. One program that not to many people know about but is a very powerful, and free one, is Auslogics Disk Defrag. It is way better than the disk de-fragmenter that comes pre-installed with your copy of windows as it keeps a memory of the previous defrag, so if you do it once a week it only takes a minute or so, it still shows the map of files like windows defrag used too, and it also tells you how much, in percent, the drive was de-fragmented by. A great one to add to your list. You can get if free here


    Jai McDonald

  • hennie mulder Sep 18, 2010 Link

    Great list with the acception of your av , I use ms security essentials not very intrusive, light on resource and realtime protection. for spyware I use malware antibytes free software.

    2. Cd / dvd burning I use ashampoo 2010 – retail great value light and easier to use , does the same as nero but very affordable.
    Ripping DVD I use cole2k dvd ripping suite it includes dvd decrypter and dvd shrink all needs catered for in one package.

    3. Office 2010 pro I covers my need for productivity , although this is expensive it is what I got used to , and compared to open office easier for me.

    My browser is firefox although I do use ie9 beta from time to time , by the way I. Kind of like ie9 windows7 integration with jump lists.
    And the browser seems better than previouse iterations.

    For multimedia I use klite codec pack vlc media player and mostly I use windows media player.

    Downloads are catered for by fdm .
    Then flash and java redistr are essential software on my pc. Utorrent is essential for torrent downloads.

    My communications are covered with icq and windows live messenger suite.

    The list goes on and on and is always added to as I discover new and better ways to do things.

  • John Green May 28, 2011 Link

    well i like your post . .the information in your post is quite good;) . .nice work .. Thanks a lot keep sharing:)

  • Daisey May 31, 2011 Link

    Hey, loved your article. Oh, and I’d definitelly recommend speeding up windows when you are a regular user of Windows. Anyway, cheers.

  • dtc Jul 18, 2011 Link

    Some good stuff on your list – one small (free) program that I use almost everyday is “deskpins” ( which “pins” whichever window you want on to the top of the others .. great program.

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  • Ben Nov 19, 2019 Link

    Instead of FileZilla and WinSCP, you should consider adding “FTP Manager Pro” in the list. I recommend this excellent file transfer FTP client. Apart from FTP transfer, it supports moving files between PC folders, mobile devices, ftp servres and cloud storage services. Great app.