Nova Vozrak, Editor
Informer Technologies, Inc.
So you've bought a new computer, with a relatively new Windows 7 preinstalled. What do you install on it right away? To each their own, of course, and you probably have your favorite software; but it is still possible to list some of the most essential utilities. Let's try and do that.
First, you might want to change the look of your Windows 7. It's not the oldest OS out there, but design trends have definitely changed since its release. Installing so-called transformation packs can give you the desired result. These can make your system look like the latest Windows 8, if you're into this whole Metro thing, or even Mac OS X, in case you're switching from an Apple machine and want to ease the pain. That there are two possible options for either of those, only slightly different in the depth of changes made to the system.
Microsoft Security Essentials
Microsoft Security Essentials brings safety to your system. It's an antivirus that has firewall integration, so you can also make sure your data is not being sent somewhere without your consent. All in all, a descent free tool - quite enough to last you until you decide to install something bigger.
Here's one to have in your software library at all times. This little tool helps you keep your PC in a good state by cleaning your registry, browsing history, leftover files, etc. It is easy to operate and very efficient. You won't believe how useful it is.
I wouldn't be surprised if you said you've never heard about this program. But it's actually quite useful in terms of security. What does it do? It tracks your mobile or notebook (e.g. in case one of those is stolen) and sends you reports about your device's location, state, etc.
Kingsoft Office Suit
If you've just bought your computer, chances are you've also got a trial version of the Microsoft Office suite. Sooner or later it will expire and you might want to use one of the free alternatives. I'd suggest Kingsoft Office for this purpose. It's not as functional as MS Office, of course, that goes without saying. But it is still quite useful for regular things, like typing and formatting long documents, editing spreadsheets, building presentations, etc.
Compressing files saves you time and effort when you're sending them. Extracting compressed archives is essential if you want to use the files that are kept inside. I guess there's no point elaborating why file compression apps are important. Uniextractor is a handy tool of the kind, though it's not so well known. It works quickly and well enough. Though you might want to skip experimenting and get the more widely spread tool - 7-zip. Its universal praise is rightly deserved, believe me.
This tool is often included in all operating systems by Microsoft starting from some of the Windows 7 editions, so you may not even have to install it. Skype is the go-to service for corporative communication or just chatting with friends. Free voice calls and free video calls to other Skype users, great video and sound quality - what more could you ask for?
At some point you'll probably want to use your computer to listen to music. It's just the way it is. KMP and Winamp are probably the most-known applications that you can use for this purpose, and the fame seems rightly deserved, especially when you take into account that you can use them to watch videos as well. They're both quite powerful and you'll likely just pick whichever looks nicer.
You may be quite OK with using Internet Explorer for browsing, there's nothing wrong with that. If you're not, you may find Chrome or Firefox more useful. Both work faster and seem to be more secure than Microsoft's offering. You won't be disappointed with either of them.
Picasa Graphic Tool
Now, some of us buy computers to work with photos - organize them, catalog them, put them into albums, and so on. These people will be happy to know that there are tools like Picasa. It is not that powerful in terms of photo editing, but it gets the job done for the most part. And it is free.
I hope these tools will help you start working on your brand-new PC soon after you first boot it up. There are, of course, many other options, and it was really hard to decide which ones to include and which to leave off. If you think something is missing, leave a comment and let everyone know.
Here to the top applications for Windows XP.