If you’ve bought a new PC or Windows laptop recently, it probably came “bundled” with a bunch of free software. It is a near certainty that the bundled software you got is awful. Most people I know who make their living from computers (the ones who use Windows instead of Mac OS X anyway) reformat the hard drive and install only what they need to avoid this junk. Why this software is on your computer in the first place is another story. This post is about where you can find free software you actually want on your computer.
The Google Pack (http://pack.google.com) is a great place to start adding software you actually need. As of this writing, the pack contains 14 applications. This includes applications like Adobe Acrobat Reader, Firefox, Picasa, Skype, and RealPlayer. The biggest benefit of adding these applications to your new computer via Google Pack is the updater software. You can configure it to automatically update applications when there are new versions.
Open Source Windows is another great source for free software. Unlike the Google Pack offerings, none of the software you’ll find at Open Source Windows is offered by Google. The types of software are broader in many ways as well. They include instant messaging (IM) clients, RSS clients, video playback, sound recording, graphics/photo editing, even games.
So if you’ve got a new Windows machine you need to get running, get rid of the bundled software and pay those sites a visit. It will only cost you a little time, and the quality of the software you’ll get in return makes it a worthwhile investment.