Wibbly Stuff

Replace some Common Windows Softwares with Free and Better Alternatives

People don't like changes with the things they are already familiar with. And this habit reflects when they choose applications, even though there are better alternatives available. In this brief guide I will try to point out to some free applications that can replace those common choices for normal home users.

Replace Internet Explorer with Firefox, Chrome or Opera:
Although with more than 50% market share Internet Explorer is the most popular web browser, it is definitely not the best. Then which one is the best? Well, the answer is debatable. Because Firefox, Chrome and Opera, all of them do this job very well. Choose any of them, they are free.
  • Mozilla Firefox is the second most popular browser which is free, cross-platform, open source and offers fast and secure web browsing. The most important feature of Firefox is its huge collection of add-ons which extends the browser's capability.
  • Google Chrome is sleek web browser that is definitely faster than its competitors. It is  free, cross-platform and based on the open source browser chromium. Chrome is gaining popularity very fast. But some people do not prefer using chrome as it is accused that Google tracks which sites have been visited from the browser.
  • Opera is another free cross-platform browser that is feature rich and offers great usability out of the box, without any add-on or extensions. But the coming versions of Opera will support extensions too.
Replace Windows Media Player with VLC:
No doubt, VLC Media Player is the best media player in the world which is completely free, supports almost every media file types and runs on almost every possible operating systems. No need to install codecs for various media file types as VLC supports them out of the box. Not only this, VLC can also RIP DVDs, Convert audio and video files, Stream online media, Record videos, supports Subtitles and many more. The media player interface is fully customisable and skinnable.

Definitely VLC supports audio files, but if you want dedicated audio player foobar2000Songbird or Winamp are worth to be mentioned.

Replace Microsoft Office with OpenOffice and Google Docs:
You may argue that Microsoft Office is the best Office Suite, but do you know that unlike Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player, it does not come with Windows free. The copy of MS Office you are using is either bought from Microsoft by wasting money or just a illegal cracked version. There is alternative: OpenOffice. Anything that a normal home user do in MS Office can be easily done in Openoffice too. And it is fully compatible with MS Office file types too. Apart from OpenOffice, there is another alternative: Google Docs. As web apps are getting popular day by day, Google Docs has a great future ahead.

Leave Microsoft Outlook and Switch to Web Mail:
eMail applications are outdated. Instead of using a dedicated software, it is much better to access the emails from the web browser. But if you still need an email application, Mozilla ThunderBird will definitely replace Microsoft Outlook.

Replace Notepad with Notepad++:
Notepad++ is a simple yet feature rich text editor, with tabbed interface, multiple clipboard, drag and drop support, spell checker, external plugin support etc which the default notepad lacks.


Replace Windows Live Mesh with DropBox:
Windows live mesh offers free 5GB space as cloud storage where you can synchronize your files between your computer and cloud. Dropbox offers the same service but 2GB only. Then why DropBox is better? Simple, Windows live mesh supports windows only. But DropBox gives you access to your files on Windows, Linux, Mac and even on your SmartPhone. If you are not happy with 2GB you can upgrade your account by choosing a paid plan. Even you can increase your storage for free, by inviting your friends to dropbox. Apart from that, DropBox often offers free storage as giveaways for completing some simple tasks.

Replace Adobe Reader with Foxit Reader:
Adobe Reader is too resource-hungry and takes too much space in your hard disk. And my personal experience says it takes too much time to open a file!!! On the other hand FoxIT Reader offers a free light-weight reader that is capable enough to handle your PDF files.

Replace Nero with ImgBurn:
Nero, probably the most popular CD/DVD Burning tool, but non-free and resource-hungry. ImgBurn is a free light-weight tool that does not have as much feature as Nero, but can do the most common jobs very efficiently.

Replace Adobe Photoshop with GIMP and Paint.NET:
Adobe Photoshop, another example of popular yet non-free and resource-hungry software. You can easily replace Photoshop by GIMP, a free and relatively light-weight image manipulation software. Another great image editing software is Paint.NET, which aims to make image editing easyier than other image manipulation software available.

GIMP 2.6


Replace WinZIP or WinRAR by 7ZIP:
One thing I dont understand, why people still uses WinZip or WinRar when 7Zip can handle more compressed archieves, even though it is free. 7Zip not only supports a large number of compressed file types, but also does its job more effectively and offers better compression ratio. 7Zip also comes with its own built-in file manager, which looks dull but way fast than  Windows Explorer and other file managers for Windows.


Replace all Instant Messengers with a Single Application, Pidgin or Meebo:
You don't need separate instant messengers for separate chat networks. Pidgin supports GTalk, Yahoo!, MSN, ICQ, AIM, IRC and a lot more, all inside a single application. Moreover, Pidgin is completely free, cross-platform and light-weigh. It also supports external plugins, file transfer and a lot more features. But there is another multi-IM client, Meebo, which offers support for much more chat networks, much pleasant user interface and more features. It is web application though. But as I said before, web apps are being popular day by day.

Replace Internet Download Manager with Orbit:
Internet Download Manager is the most popular and efficient download manager for windows. But who want to pay when there is free alternatives? To be honest I don't think Orbit is as efficient as IDM, but it works quite well. Moreover it comes with some features that IDM doesn't have, like "Software Update Notification" which notifies you when there is any update available for any software installed in your computer.

Never Buy an Antivirus:
For the home users, there is no need to buy premium antivirus softwares, free alternatives are enough for securing your computer against malwares, unless you run your PC without common senses. Microsoft Security Essential is the free anti-malware from Microsoft which can protect your PC from threats without slowing down your PC. But you must have genuine copy of Windows installed in your computer to install it. In case it is not genuine or you dont want MSE, you can go for free antivirus from AVG, Avast or Avira, they are enough to protect your PC.

Microsoft Security Essential 2.0 Beta
This is just a brief list for showing that the world of free softwares is capable enough to handle all the jobs a normal home users do. And the list doesn't end here. You can add to it. Are you using any free software that can replace any commercial popular one? Feel free to share it with us.