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Today we would like to inaugurate a new section of our website. Here you will find articles and opinions about Windows Vista. Also, we will try to present free or open source applications that are made for Windows Vista.
For our first article we have a list of 10 free applications that work on Windows Vista, split into these categories: Antivirus Solutions, Anti-Spyware Solutions, Internet Browsers, Multimedia Players, Office Productivity Suites and Compression Tools.
Avast! Home Edition is one of the best antivirus solutions available on the market and yes... it is free for home users and non-commercial use. It has an interface that is easy to use and provides all the security features you need: standard real-time protection (including support for e-mail clients like Outlook), protection for instant messaging and peer-to-peer programs, a lightweight firewall that analyses all network traffic and a web shield that filters all HTTP traffic. The biggest drawback of this free version compared to the commercial one is the fact that you cannot schedule any tasks.
AVG Anti-Virus Free is one of the first antivirus solutions to offer support for Windows Vista. I personally used it for a few weeks and I was satisfied with it. The interface doesn't look great but it is easy to use. AVG Free offers standard real-time protection for your system including support for e-mail clients and limited task scheduling features. Unlike Avast it doesn't filter HTTP or network traffic nor does it offer protection for instant messaging and peer-to-peer programs, but the most impressive thing about AVG is the fact that it consumes very little resources. If you do not have a very powerful system, AVG might be the best antivirus solution for you.
Spybot Search&Destroy is a pretty old anti-spyware solution that offers good protection. It offers two resident modules: the TeaTimer which blocks browser hijacks and malicious processes from loading in memory and the SDHelper that blocks access to sites known to install spyware. Spybot checks your system against a comprehensive database that is continuously updated and offers a good level of protection against spyware.
Ad-Aware SE Personal is a well known anti-spyware scanner that also offers support for Windows Vista. It has an easy to use interface that supports skins and does a pretty good job when finding and removing adware and spyware from your system. Unfortunately the free version of Ad-Aware does not include a resident protection system so you will have to scan your system manually.
I am sure you have already heard about Firefox - the most popular open source browser on the web. It offers plenty of great features such as: tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, integrated spell checking, session restore, phishing protection and live bookmarks just to name a few. It's greatest strength is its extensibility. If you want a feature that is not included by default in Firefox, you have a big chance to find a Firefox add-on that will suit your needs.
Opera is another great internet browser, developed in Norway since 1994. Unlike Internet Explorer and Firefox, Opera is 100% compatible with all existing web standards. One of its greatest strengths is its rendering speed. Opera's features list includes: tabbed browsing, fraud protection, widgets (similar to Firefox add-ons), built-in torrent client, an integrated mail client and the possibility of controlling the browser using voice commands.
GOM Player is a very simple, free and light multimedia player which frees the user from having to download additional codecs. This player supports most popular codecs (AVI, DAT, MPEG, DivX plus many more) with its own embedded codec system. So you won't have to look for appropriate codecs everytime you can't play a certain video format. Another great feature is the possibility to watch video files while you are downloading them. The list of features doesn't stop here. If you want to know more, just visit the GOM official site.
Another great multimedia player is the M2V Player. Unlike GOM Player it doesn't have any included codecs. You must install them separately. The list of "bad" things seems to end here as this player can satisfy even the most pretentious users. With M2V Player you can play any movie format as long as you have the codecs for it. The list of features includes: customizable keyboard shortcuts, aspect ratio adjustment, easy subtitle configuring and resizeable windows.
Office Productivity Suites
If you don't have money to buy Microsoft Office 2007 then you should consider OpenOffice. It is a free suite that offers similar features and a similar look to older Office versions like XP and 2003. It can also read and write most of the Microsoft Office file formats. If you don't need the special features included in the latest Microsoft Office version or you have pretty basic needs, then OpenOffice is perfect for you. If you are a more pretentious user, you should consider OxygenOffice Professional - an enhanced version of OpenOffice that contains more extras like templates, cliparts, samples and fonts.
7-Zip is a free archiving tool with a high compression ratio that supports most important compression formats: 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). Its producers claim that for ZIP and GZIP formats 7-Zip provides compression ratio that is 2-10 % better than the ratio provided by PKZip and WinZip. We used this tool for a few weeks and it proved to be fast, very reliable and easy to use.
Note: we did not include any free firewalls in our article because at this moment there are none available. If you know any free firewalls that are compatible with Windows Vista please make a comment using the options below..
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