We’ve picked out the best free software programs for Windows Vista, so there’s no need to spend big dollars to get top quality applications and utility software.
Whether you’re looking for free anti-virus software, or free Office software, you’ll find it here.
The first group of programs listed are the stand out programs; we use them on a regular basis and find them indispensible.
The stand outs
Audacity – This offers a simple sound recording and editing tool. It lets you record live audio, convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files, cut/copy/splice/mix sounds together, and change the speed or pitch of a recording.
AVG Free Edition – One of the most popular anti-virus protection tool, AVG Free is easy to use and will not noticeably slow your system down. Its features include automatic updates, the AVG Resident Shield (which provides real-time protection as files are opened and programs are run), free Virus Database Updates for the lifetime of the product, and an AVG Virus Vault for safe handling of infected files.
FileZilla FTP Client – This fast and reliable cross-platform FTP, FTPS and SFTP client offers tons of useful features and an intuitive interface.
GIMP – Your best free alternative to Photoshop and other paid graphics manipulation software, GIMP performs operations directly on the pixels that make up the image, and is not a vector editor. It’s helpful for photographers who want to edit photographs and are more familiar with Adobe Photoshop as most of the menus and capabilities of Photoshop can be found in GIMP.
Mozilla Firefox – Of course this has to be on the list. What better way to browse the Internet? IE8 is good and will probably work well with Vista considering that they are both Microsoft product. But Firefox is definitely much faster than IE8.
OpenOffice – Who doesn’t know about OpenOffice? It’s your best alternative to the highly-priced MS Office, offering a suite of software for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages – including MS Office.
And the rest are also good
7-Zip – This free archiving tool features a high compression ratio supporting most compression formats such as, 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR (for packing/unpacking) and RAR, CAB, ISO, ARJ, LZH, CHM, Z, CPIO, RPM, DEB and NSIS (for unpacking only).
Adobe Flash Player 10.0.12.36 – What can we say? It’s a lightweight, highly expressive client runtime that delivers powerful and consistent user experiences across major operating systems, browsers, mobile phones, and devices. To state it simply, it lets you play interactive online content.
Basecamp – This program offers a fresh and novel approach to project collaboration by providing tools tailored to improve communication between people working on a project.
Cabos – This file-sharing program was based on LimeWire and Acquisition and provides a simple sidebar interface, Mojito DHT support, firewall to firewall transfers, UPnP support, IP2Country support, iTunes integration, searches and more.
ClipMagic – This is a clipboard program that allows you to capture, store and categorize text and images and even record URLs. It also provides extended clipboard capabilities for saving clips in a convenient categorized format.
CuteWriter – This easy-to-use PDF writer supports 64-bit Windows Vista. It integrates well with CutePDF Professional and the latest version of Ghostscript. It also supports foreign language well.
deVault2009 – This program lets you store, classify, organize, compress, encrypt, backup, and share all your files in sophisticated digital vaults.
DVD Flick – With this simple yet powerful DVD authoring tool, you can take a number of videos on your computer and turn them into a DVD that is playable on a standard DVD player. It also lets you add additional custom audio tracks, subtitles and menus for easier navigation.
Feeds Plus – This allows you to read all your RSS feeds from a single location. It’s very useful if you subscribe to dozens of feeds.
Foxit Reader – This PDF document viewer is quick to load, utilizes few resources and offers more than enough features to answer your need for a PDF reader. It supports PDF Standard 1.7.
Free Studio – This program offers 20 tools for video editing, processing and capturing in a single package. It lets you convert, split, join, burn and download videos and audio files, and it allows you to burn, copy and backup DVDs. It also lets you convert video files from one format to another, save video and DVD files to your iPod ,iPhone, PSP, and cellphones.
Fullscreen Photo Viewer – This is an image viewer designed for high-quality viewing of high-resolution pictures and photographs. It uses advanced scaling algorithms to fit image rendering on your PC’s monitor.
GanttProject – This easy to use Gantt chart-based project scheduling and management tool includes features such as task hierarchy and dependencies, a Gantt chart, a Resource load chart, Generation of PERT chart, PDF and HTML reports, MS Project import/export, and WebDAV based groupwork.
GOM Player – This is an easy-to-use and light multimedia player that eliminates the need to download additional codecs to support popular media formats such AVI, DAT, MPEG, DivX and more. It also lets you watch video while you download them.
iBrowser 1.4 – A powerful image and thumbnail viewer and browser, this program lets you preview folders with a large number of images. It also lets you change the look and feel of the program and save your interface layout. It features 14 language localizations and power features such as customizable interface layouts, advanced memory management, a slideshow setting, format defining by signature, full screen view, animated images, autoplay, intelligent large-file support, and more.
ImgBurn – This lightweight CD/DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-ray burning application supports a wide range of image file formats such as BIN, CUE, DI, DVD, GI, IMG, ISO, MDS, NRG and PDI. It lets you burn Audio CD’s from any file type supported via DirectShow / ACM – including AAC, APE, FLAC, M4A, MP3, MP4, MPC, OGG, PCM, WAV, WMA and WV.
Jing Project – This is a supplement to all your chat discussions, email threads, forum posts and blog entries. Sitting nicely on your desktop, the application is always ready to capture and share your stuff. All you need to do is simply select an area of your screen, capture it as an image or record it as a video, and then click Share. Jing conveniently attaches a URL to your content, which you can paste into any of your conversations or share on screencast.com, a local folder, a network drive, clipboard, ftp server and Flickr.
King Kong Capture – This screen capture tool that lets you capture any image on your screen from the smallest icon to the whole desktop. It allows you to do simple edits, save your screenshots in any format , and print and share your screen capture.
Limewire – This is the world’s fastest P2P file-sharing application for all types of computer files including, music, video, pictures, games and text documents. It could be a valuable addition to your Vista installation. It features dynamic querying, file previews during download, advanced techniques for locating rare files, and an easy, clean user interface.
M2V Player – While it’s another good multimedia player, it lacks the various media codecs. Still, you can play any movie format as long as you have its video codec. Its features include customizable keyboard shortcuts, aspect ratio adjustment, easy subtitle configuring and resizable windows.
Miro – This is an internet TV and video player that allows you to download video from RSS channels. It supports Torrent and offers a search/download feature from YouTube and other video sites.
Mozilla Lightning – This is the email calendaring task from Mozilla’s email client Thunderbird. It’s a good alternative to Outlook Express.
Net TV and Radio Player – 2.1 – This lets you watch thousands of worldwide online TV and radio stations including movies, sports, news and many other stations. This software is also able to update channel lists.
Paint.NET – Another image editing and photo manipulation tool similar to GIMP, this supports layers, unlimited undo, special effects and other useful tools.
PDFCreator – You can use this PDF creation software as a printer in Word, StarCalc or any other Windows applications. It encrypt PDFs and protects them from being altered or printed by third parties. It sends generated files via email.
PhotoFiltre – Another image editing tool, this time PhotoFiltre allows you to perform simple or advanced adjustments to an image including various filtering options. It features an easy-to-use and intuitive interface. It also features a robust toolbar that gives you access to the standard filters with just a few clicks.
PictureShark – This program lets you add a watermark to any image and lets you adjust its transparency.
PopMan – This POP3 and IMAP4 manager can be used to list all emails received on your incoming mail server without having to completely load the messages. You can deleted unwanted emails directly from the server as well as use it to check your email accounts in the background.
Sociagami – This program lets you manage your Myspace, Facebook and Twitter accounts from one Vista application. Sociagami brings together the latest messages, comments, wall posts and status updates in one place.
Trillian – Possibly one of the best and most robust IM clients that you can use with your Windows Vista installation. This supports AOL IM, MSN, ICQ, Yahoo, voice chats and file transfers.
VLC – This highly portable multimedia player works with various audio and video formats including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, and more. It also supports DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. You can also use it as server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.
Web Album Maker 2.20 – This program makes the task of creating a Web gallery easier and faster. It produces HTML and flash templates for your photo gallery, creates thumbnails of your photos and displays them in HTML format. It also lets you produce slideshows.
Window Clippings – Available in both free and paid versions, this is a simple-to-use screen capturing software that lets you save in various formats. It also lets you capture Windows Vista shadows.
Zipeg – This program allows you to open and explore content of zip, rar and other archived files. It also allows you to preview files and images before you extract/unzip them. It extracts only the files you want, zip thru photo archives, and see image thumbnails.
Have we missed a program that you think should be on our list? Feel free to add it in the comments.