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|photo by DeclanTM|
Top Notch Freeware
With the growth of the open source movement, a vast range of excellent software has been created that is available to you for free. Good places to look for the best stuff is SourceForge who tend to host most of the latest freeware projects. Another site where you can find categorised freeware is Freeware Files.
From time to time new software is released for free for a limited time span in order to generate interest in the product. Giveaway of the Day regularly offer software to download for free for one day only. By subscribing to their feed you can always stay updated as to what is available. Also they offer full version games on Game Giveaway of the Day.
Commercial Quality Games
It may seem strange but there are quite a few high quality games that are free. No longer do we just see simple games with appalling graphics made by one guy and a cold pizza in a back bedroom. Trackmania Nations Forever is a stunning high quality racing game where you compete against the clock, racing people all over the world through the internet. Also you can find flight simulators like FlightGear and strategy games like Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe. It’s not just small developers who are making free games. The U.S. army have had a free first person shooter made for the public called America’s Army. Plus EA are planning to launch Battlefield Heroes which will be a free game funded by advertising, the release date is still unknown but is currently in beta, it may kick off a revolution in the games industry.
Free Classic Games
From time to time, old games get released for free, there is usually a little catch like you have to sign up for a newsletter. Classic games that are available include Grand Theft Auto 2, Sim City, Battlecruiser 3000AD and more can be found at Classic PC Games. A bit of nostalgia.
Photo editors can be very expensive software to invest in. But thanks to some people who believe in open source software, GIMP was born, unusual name, but GIMP will give Photoshop a run for its money. There are also plenty of tutorials and add-ons to get you started, with a massive community supporting it. If you are after something a little more simple, but more powerful than humble Paint, then give Paint.NET a go, it has all the functions you would expect of a good photo editor.
Only Open Office can rival Microsoft’s dominant suite, it also has the ability now to save files in the more common Microsoft formats. As you would expect, there is a word processor, a spreadsheet and presentation programme included. Alternatives tend to be based online like Google Docs and Zoho. Although very good they do lack some functions.
Almost an essential is a good anti virus software. There are a couple of good online scanners which will check your system for virus using their regularly updated database. Good examples are Trend Micro HouseCall and Kaspersky Lab. If you want something to protect your system day to day then you can’t go to wrong with AVG Free, which has remained free for many years. An alternative worth trying is ClamWin.
There’s two main browsers at the moment Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, if you’re not using Firefox why not? As you can probably guess I am and would highly recommend it over Explorer. Other new browsers are Flock also by Mozilla which is more for integrating social networking or try Safari, originally just for Mac’s it is now available for Windows also.
There is no shortage of little bits of software to add more functions to your desktop, ranging from widget based dashboards like Yahoo Widgets or Google Desktop. Other little gadgets that can be found include Battery Monitors and Currency Converters.
Got your own suggestions? Please leave a comment below.
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