Each year, DetectorPRO will detect and publish the best free Windows software for you. This is the first year for us, and there is much great software out there, so the selection wasn’t easy and painless. We must test the software and also considerate usability, functionality, stability and also popularity of tested free apps. For easy selection, we put our software in 5 categories (Office and Photo apps, Internet, Multimedia, Utility and Desktop) and several subcategories. We decided not to go into specialized professional free software test (This is planed for future posts because this type of test need more time and expertise) for this selection, but to make basic selection suitable for every newbie and regular computer user. In some categories, where we don’t have one winner, we put both apps in the list, so your choice can’t be wrong. We try to be objective as much as we can, but mistakes are always possible. As I mention previously, this is first year for us and we are open for common suggestions, comments and proposals, so the next year the “DetectorPRO Best 25’s” list, as we name it, will be far better than this one.
Office and Photo apps
1. Office Suite – OpenOffice.org 3.0.
There no need for explanation: word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases, many document files support, save as .odf(Open Document Format); .doc (MS Office document format); PDF export, easy to learn, it does everything like MS Office and is free, and if you’re already using another office software, you’ll know how to use OpenOffice.org 3
2. PDF Reader – Foxit Reader 3.0.
Fast PDF reader replacement for heavy and slow Adobe PDF reader.
3. Photo editor – Paint.NET 3.36 or Picasa 3.
We choose Paint.NET over GIMP because of complex GIMP user interface (GIMP is going in professional DetectorPRO list). Paint.NET (is better and better in every new release) is not powerful as GIMP but is easier to learn and use, with easy user interface, has layers support, blending modes and special effects, gradients, unlimited undo history, image adjustments and many filter effects. Paint.NET also includes easy to use tools for drawing shapes and lines, a text tools, a clone stamp, recolor tool and other advanced functions needed by newbie’s, bloggers and regular users.
On other side, Picasa is basic image editor and photo organizer and its enough for many users for organize, print, and share images and do basic photo corrections like red eyes remove, contrast, color, retouches, crop, add text to pictures, collage tool, some effects and even basic movie maker tool. Picasa lets you scan your computer and connected USB cameras for images and organize them as chronologically sorted albums with thumbnail previews. It’s extremely easy to use and many users love it. So, it definitely made its place to DetectorPRO 25’s list.
4. Internet Browser – Firefox 3.0.x.
Fast, Stable, Customizable, Skinable, Tabbed browsing, Innovative, with many plugins and add-ons (for regular users, web developers, download, torrent, mail, RSS read, bloggers, fun.. in short – for everything you need)
5. Mail – Thunderbird 2.0.0.x + (“Lighting” – calendar and “minimixe to tray” add-ons)
6. Instant messenger – Pidgin or Skype.
We don’t find popular replacement for Skype protocol, we tested also Digsby and we are really impressed of digsby idea (Instant messenger, Mail, Social Networking all in one), but Digsby is still in development stage so the real stable competitor will show later, and that is the reason to stay out from DetectorPRO Best 25’s list this year.
7. Internet Radio Player – Screamer Radio 0.4.3.
There are no music boundaries, so download it, pick up radio station and enjoy. You can also save radio streams and add new stations. I admit that there is music players with already build in internet radio support but author of this tiny program with low memory usage has already selected perfect internet stations for every music taste.
8. Torrent download – uTorrent
It’s fast, tiny, stable and it does the job. Need something else?
9. Movie Player – Media Player Classic 18.104.22.168 or VLC.
Both programs are fully customizable, they play almost everything and there are free. VLC support skins and Media Player Classic has really old classy user interface.
10. Audio Player – Winamp 5.54 or popular newcomer Songbird 1.0.0. Winamp Is light (newer versions are not) and it plays everything. If some files are not supported by native installation you can found plugins for it. Also winamp support skins, visualizations, effects, and many more, it is customizable, free (basic part of it) and it has a lot satisfied users
Songbird has different approach, It’s built on Mozilla engine, it is very customizable and supports extensions, plugins and skins. Has many integrated services, hundreds of add-ons, and a growing developer community., so it will be the next mozilla firefox for music players. Read more at this DetectorPRO tutorial.
11. Media Center – XBMC
Many users shares this opinion, many users voted for XBMC on Lifehacker, so following user votes this year media center no. 1 is XBMC. The next year will be thought – Boxee is out the door, still in Alpha development stage and is build upon XBMC engine but with many useful services. Read more here.
12. Audio/Video/Photo converter – FFactory 1.6.
Simple: Convert anything you want in most usable audio, video, pictures, mobile, DVD and other files
13. CD ripper – Exact Audi
o Copy 0.99 prebeta 4 or CDEx 1.51.
EAC is the most precise CD ripper with advanced ripping functions and jitter correction. It is in prebeta so we add CDEx 1.51 my favorite of this list.
14. Audio/Video codec – ffdShow
The best codecs for all audio and Video formats, with many advanced settings.
15. TAG utility – Mp3tag 2.42
If you have big mp3 or other music collection, and it is in completely mess, this is the program for you. Easy rename, change, retrieve: artist, album, song name from internet and many more for free.
16. CD burnerXP 4.2.3
Free CD, DVD, HDDVD and BD burner. If you are using NERO just for burning, don’t spend money anymore. Check this year winner burning program on DetectorPRO 25’s list
Free system optimize and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. Also has fully featured registry cleaner (so it will improve system performance with removing crap from registry) and traces cleaner of your online activities like your Internet history. Read more here.
18. Download manager – FlashGet 1.9.6
If you download big files, movies, software and Firefox download manager is to useless for you, try FlashGet, advanced download manager with many settings, download limit, download speed, pausing..
20. Firewall – ZoneAlarm Free. Award wining firewall program.
21. Ad-Aware 2008 free
Best anti-spyware software
22. File Archiver – WinRar
Powerful archive manager. Basically it is free, you can use it but it shows popup to buy it on every use.
24. Yahoo widgets
Popular widgets like clock, calendar, weather, organizer, stock, mail and many more
25. Google Earth