Found something useful? Don't forget to leave a comment!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Whitehat's List of Top Windows Apps, April 2008

There are a lot of programs available for the Windows platform, and not all are created equal. In this first roundup of top apps, I'll show you which ones are the true winners...

Web Browser: Mozilla Firefox 2

Get Firefox

The free, open-source Firefox browser is lean and mean. With a mind-boggling array of extensions and themes, it is infinitely customizable. The fact that it sports better performance and render times (usually) than Internet Explorer or Opera doesn't hurt, either. And the upcoming release of Firefox 3 is a welcome event as well.

Email Client: Mozilla Thunderbird 2
Get Thunderbird
Another Mozilla product, you ask? No, I don't have any secret agenda - Thunderbird just happens to be one of the most robust mail clients out there. Also free and open-source, this fast client supports the standard POP3, IMAP, and SMTP email protocols, while also doubling as a newsreader. Again, there exist a myriad of extensions and themes. The only competitor that comes even remotely close is Microsoft Outlook, and that's gonna set you back a pretty penny.

Office Suite: Microsoft Office 2007

Yeah, this sure ain't free, but the power and quality of this office suite is a force to be reckoned with. The latest 2007 spin includes a spiffy new Ribbon interface, which I personally find to be much more sensibly organized and easier-to-use than conventional menus. The new 3D effects and the fresh new fonts are worth looking into. Just be careful with the file format - the 2007 apps save in OOXML format, which earlier Offices can't read without a compatibility pack.

Text Editor: Notepad2

The built in Windows Notepad is definitely a little anemic. Notepad2 infuses some much needed features into a text editor, such as advanced find-and-replace, regex matching, and the ability to use different encoding formats such as UTF-16. Its most useful feature, though, is the syntax highlighting. Throw a C, Perl, or PHP file at it, and it comes out nicely colored. For extra fun you can completely replace the Windows Notepad - it's only one EXE.

PDF Reader: Foxit Reader

If you use Adobe Reader for your PDFs, boy do I feel sorry for you. Adobe's PDF app is notorious for crashing, hanging, and long load times, especially within a web browser. You would think that the company that basically originated the PDF format could put out a decent reader for it. Apparently not. But that's where Foxit comes in. This ultra-fast PDF app handles huge PDF files and quick page flipping with aplomb. Believe me, you won't use anything else once you see how wickedly fast it is.

Heavy-Duty Graphics Editing: Adobe Photoshop CS3

This heavyweight champion costs a heck of a lot of dough, but with it you get the most respected name in graphics manipulation software. The latest CS3 release is reasonably fast and, as always, handles a multitude of file formats. Its advanced capabilities are definitely not for the faint of heart, but it can handle any task, easy, small, big or little, with ease.

Light Graphics Editing: Paint.NET

Got a quick-and-dirty editing job you need to do? Need to whip something up, but Microsoft Paint just can't handle the heat? Then you need Paint.NET. This editing app boasts an intuitive interface as well as a respectable array of tools, filters, and effects. If you don't need heavy-duty horsepower, Paint.NET is the tool to use.

IM Client: Pidgin

With all the different IM networks out there, along with their respective proprietary clients, it can be a pain to have multiple clients running. Even more annoying is the fact that some companies think it's OK to shove adware and spyware down your throat when you install their client *cough* AOL *cough*. Here comes Pidgin, swooping down to save the day! (Yes, a pidgin is actually a bird. Neat, huh?) Pidgin allows you to manage all your IM clients, all across the different networks. Advanced features such as video-conferencing and file-transfer are a little on the flaky side, but it more than makes up for it by being free, open-source, and completely liberated from spyware/adaware.

That's all for today...stay tuned for a discussion of the best torrent app, media player, and more!

No comments: