Recommended Windows productivity software


Updated: July 21, 2011

I have given you my perspective on the motivations for choosing operating systems and software for Linux. Now, we will talk about my favorite Windows programs. While you could easily refer to either my A-Z guide or the must-have list for the ultimate compilation, so to speak, those collections represent the wider spectrum of good software, not necessarily always the top pick in every category. What more, I also use payware programs.

Without repeating myself, I will give you an insight into more productivity software that I use for my daily work, fun and research. Most of my arsenal is cross-platform, so the top choice of Web browser, office suite and other categories still holds true. However, some of the stuff is Windows-only or Windows-preferred, hence this sequel.

Archives

This is an interesting category. What should you use to extract archives, be they RAR, ZIP or something else entirely? Well, I believe 7-Zip is the best overall choice. It's simple, portable, it can utilize multiple cores to speed the archiving process, and there's a dedicated 64-bit version.

7-Zip

Backup software

Linux backup is covered by CloneZilla and Grsync. In Windows, I use Karen's Replicator for data backups and mostly Acronis True Image for system imaging. On some machines, I'm also using the free Paragon backup software. Windows installations on multi-boot machines are imaged using CloneZilla, too.

Replicator

Acronis

CD/DVD burning software

My Windows burning needs are met by InfraRecorder. This is a very simple and handy program, which does what you expect. My secondary choice is ImgBurn.

InfraRecorder

PDF software

This is a tough one. I still believe Foxit Reader is the best choice overall, but their practices of late are becoming troubling. There might come a critical moment where annoyance will prevail over convenience. For the time being, Foxit it is.

Foxit Reader

Security

Again, it's all about strategy. You can do anything you want, as long as you have a plan. In my case, it has nothing to do with the wild exaggeration of Internet threats. My security focus is on minimal interference and performance penalty, maximum compatibility and no blacklists. The principle of least privilege also holds.

Therefore, on some of my XP boxes, you will find SuRun. Windows 7 runs with UAC. I'm also dabbling in EMET, which seems to be the best invention Microsoft released in a long, long time.

SuRun

EMET

Now, I won't lie to you, there are many other useful security or security-related tools you can use for Windows, but they should complement your strategy rather than define it. For example, having a bootable Windows live CD is a great thing. But what next? What do you intend to do with it? Likewise, running Sysinternals tools or Nirsoft programs will also boost your reputation as a geek, but then, what are you trying to achieve? Will you know what to do with ProcessExplorer when the right moment comes?

We could debate a lot about firewalls and malware scanners and registry tweaks. That's not the purpose of this article. So I'd say SuRun and EMET and possibly Secunia PSI.

If you need more info, you may want to read my Windows security articles. There's a plenty of them, so just browse through the Software section. There's general safe Web practices, mail security, Windows 7 security, and a handful more.

Other stuff

We talked about Notepad++, IrfanView, GIMP, Firefox, VLC, and other programs. As useful on Windows as they are on Linux. In fact, so useful that I'm using some of these through Wine, believe it or not.

There's a ton more other programs and niche categories, like sticky notes, VNC viewers, screenshot utilities, webmail integration programs, desktop search, download managers, and others. Unfortunately, I can't give you a single recommendation. You probably don't care that I use ffmpeg for multimedia conversion as much as I don't believe in desktop search. So that would be all, I guess.

What else would a typical Windows user need? I can't say. If you have any ideas to what kind of desktop activity should be included, then I might provide the preferred software for that. And that's all for today.

Conclusion

This article is shorter than its Linux counterpart, for one simple reason. Most of my software choices is open-source and cross-platform, so you can run and enjoy them on any which system. There are some differences in overall setups. As always, you should take my recommendation with a grain of salt, firstly because who cares what someone else runs half way across the globe, and secondly, because your needs are completely different from mine.

However, if for some weird reason you believe my advice is holy and it could benefit your productivity immensely, then you may want to consider rearranging your setup to include a new palette of programs. And remember, you must have a strategy.

That's it. I guess I will need to revisit my compilations once again and update them with the most relevant, recent information. And there's also choosing the right hardware for your Linux. So stay tuned.

Cheers.

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