Must have software for Windows

by venukb on April 20, 2008

I happened to reinstall the OS on my system (yet again) and there is a set of software that I install after every OS re-install. In fact I have a “Must Have” directory which has all the software’s that I use on a day to day basis.

Here is my list of “must have” applications for Windows. I am also mentioning it in the order of install of these applications.

Kaspersky Antivirus

The first thing to do after reinstalling an OS (or before you connect to the Internet) is to install a good Antivirus  and a AntiSpyware application.Kaspersky I currently have a 2 year subscription of Kaspersky and its one of the best AV applications that I have used so far.

There are a lot of quality free Antivirus software out there, but this has been one area where I am not willing to take risk by opting for a free alternative. I’ve had bad experience using some of the free alternatives and even some of the paid ones such as Norton gave me a lot of trouble.

Kaspersky takes the least amount of memory and CPU and also does the best job when finding/detecting viruses. No wonder its rated in the top in almost all the Antivirus reviews !

For spyware, as of now I am relying on Windows Defender which comes pre-installed with Vista ! Not sure if I am taking a risk here :)

Mozilla Firefox

Unfortunately the OS (Windows XP/Vista) does not come pre-installed with this powerful browser and I do have to install it separately ! FirefoxAlso thanks to the continuous updates, I always download the latest version rather than choosing the installable in my “Must Have” directory !

Few years back if you happened to visit a browsing center, you would only find IE installed on all the systems. When I used to ask about Firefox, I always used to get “What is that” expression ! Now I see that Firefox is also installed by default. Yes more users are now aware of this browser and rightly so !

I am not going to explain the choice of this browser; If you are a Firefox user you know the reason, if you are not, you better switch and start using Firefox !

And if you also happen to reinstall your system OS every now and then, do remember to backup the bookmarks via the Bookmark Manager !


This is again a shareware application, but I do have a registered copy of WinRar and its way better than WinZip. Especially while handling the CAB or the JAR files I find WinRar very useful. 7Zip is a free alternative if you don’t want to shell out money for WinRar.

Free Download Manager

Free Download Manager

When it comes to download managers, you again have a lot of options. I have tried most of them and have finally settled on Free Download Manager. It has the best user interface and does not run any Ads !

I do find the community options annoying is one feature that I turn off during the installation.

Do remember to run the “Optimization master” (found under options menu) to get the best download experience possible via FDM !


If you are keyboard junkie then you would definitely like Launchy. It’s one powerful application launcher and have written more about this app in my earlier post.

Read my earlier post on Launchy !


I hate web based RSS readers, they are slow and UI is sluggish compared to the desktop based readers. Of the desktop based readers, I love FeedDemon for its simple yet powerful user interface and the synchronization feature ! What more, its free and a must have if you don’t like Google Reader :)

Read my earlier post on FeedDemon !

VLC Media Player/iTunes

VLC Media PlayerAh ! I hate the inbuilt Windows Media Player ! I end up seeing the “codec” error almost every time I play a video (which is not AVI ! ).

This is when VLC Media Player comes to my rescue ! It’s a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, etc) as well as DVDs, VCD’s, and various streaming (RTSP) protocols.

I also install iTunes to manage my iPod and the loaned iPhone !

Notable Alternative: Zoom Player

Google Talk

Google Talk is the only IM client that I use ! Yes I’m done with Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger ! Google Talk is light on memory and has almost all the features I need from a IM client; Presence, Chat History, Sharing files etc. And I love the way it delivers IM even though I have logged in from more than one location !


This app might not be required as soon as you re-install the OS, but does come in handy over the period of time. The default “Disk cleanup” feature in Windows does almost nothing compared to CCleaner ! And yes it does the cleanup work pretty fast too !


TextPad saves you the pain of installing an editor for every other file format ! Want to open a CSS file, PHP file, HTML file,  a properties file or even a file with no extension, TextPad comes in handy.

Notable Alternatives: Notepad++ and PSPad

Windows Live Photo Gallery

Live photo gallery is one of the applications from the Live family that is worth loading. No Google love here;I prefer this app over Picasa for a number of reasons !

Read my earlier post on Photo Gallery to know why ! 


If you download a lot of stuff from torrent a lightweight BitTorrent client is a must ! Even though I don’t download much data from Torrent sites, I have used ĀµTorrent a couple of times !

The install size is pretty small and even the memory usage is pretty low compared to the other BitTorrent clients !

Foxit PDF Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader is a pain to use; its slow and more often than not it freezes the browser (including Firefox). Though there are extensions in Firefox to avoid this, nothing has been done to improve the Reader loading speed. It’s one of the reasons I have settled on Foxit for opening PDF documents. Its amazingly fast and its a must have if you open a lot of PDF documents !

Read my earlier post on Foxit !

Note: The below mentioned applications might make more sense if you author a blog


There are a lot of quality FTP clients for windows and I have settled on FileZilla for its simplicity. You have a site manager feature, if you do connect to a lot of different FTP servers and transferring of files between the server and client is damn easy (Even drag and drop onto the server is supported)


WinSCP is a free SFTP and SCP client for Windows. Unlike FTP clients, there aren’t many quality clients out there supporting SCP on Windows. When I edit any of the files on my server I always do it via WinSCP. Editing a file on the server opens the same on a SCP editor and a save on the file automatically puts back the file on the server.

WinSCP also has come in handy for me to transfer files between my iPhone and the PC !

The good thing about WinSCP is that it does come with a standalone version which can be copied and run from your USB drive !

Windows Live Writer

Almost every blog writer has fell in love with this Microsoft product ! Live Writer simplifies the task of writing and publishing posts !

Read this to know why Live writer rocks !

The following is the other list of software that I install and have mentioned separately since they are not the “must have”

  1. SharePod – Used to copy songs between iPod and PC

What does your list look like ?

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