The Best Free Software, Part One

July 31, 2008

Adobe Reader
www.adobe.com
Windows | MacOS | Linux | Mobile This simplest of Adobe’s PDF programs lets you do just about anything PDF-related (besides create new ones), including online collaboration. It includes a host of features to aid users with disabilities.

AIM
www.aim.com
Windows | MacOS | Linux | Web One of the most widely used pieces of free software ever, AOL Instant Messenger offers a ton of capabilities.
Read our full review of AIM 6.5.

Audacity
audacity.sourceforge.net
Windows | MacOS | Linux Whether you’re recording or editing, Audacity is all about audio in practically any format.

Firefox
www.mozilla.com
Windows | MacOS | Linux This PC Mag Editors’ Choice Web browser has been on top of the heap since version 1.5 came out in late 2005. Read our full review of Firefox 2.0.

GIMP
www.gimp.org
Windows | MacOS | Linux The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) does most of what Photoshop does; the Gimpshop project (plasticbugs.com) even makes it look like Photoshop. Read our full review of The GIMP 2.0.

iTunes
www.apple.com/itunes
Windows | MacOSWhen you’re attached to the top media player in the land (iPod), success is a given. iTunes continues to build sales and refine its organization of songs, video, games, podcasts, and more. Read our full review of Apple iTunes 7.6.

OpenOffice.org
www.openoffice.org
Windows | MacOS | Linux You can spend a lot for Microsoft Office or nothing for this suite with full-function word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentations, even an equations editor. Read our full review of OpenOffice.org 2.3.

Skype
www.skype.com
Windows | MacOS | Linux You’ll pay to call regular phones, but if you sign up all your friends, Skype provides easy (and even international) calls and video-conferencing for nothing. Read our full review of Skype 3.0.

Thunderbird
www.mozilla.com/thunderbird
Windows | MacOS | Linux Mozilla’s no-cost e-mail alternative is extensible, fast, and easy to master. And a wealth of free add-ons means there’s not much this program won’t do, from calendars to encryption. Read our full review of Thunderbird 2.

Ubuntu
www.ubuntu.com
Linux This Linux-based OS comes with many of these Hall of Fame products (Firefox, OpenOffice.org) preinstalled.

WinAmp
www.winamp.com
Windows After a decade of playing music, the "skinnable" WinAmp has several versions, including one with full CD ripping and burning.


Operating Systems


ajaxWindows
www.ajaxwindows.com
Web A virtual operating system (aka Web OS), it uses Asynchronous Java-Script and XML (AJAX) programming to mimic the look and feel of a Windows desktop in Firefox or IE. It stores files (using Gmail) and runs its own applications, plus Web apps like Meebo and Google Maps. If you can launch a Web browser, you can get work done through ajaxWindows.

eyeOS
eyeos.info
WebThis Web OS has ultra-simplified applications, including an RSS reader, satellite maps, a word processor, even a browser—yes, for browsing the Web while on the Web.

Freespire 2.0
www.freespire.org
Linux This community-driven OS is based on Linspire (formerly Lindows)—a Linux distro that looks like Windows, with an emphasis on compatibility with other platforms.

Glide
www.glidedigital.com
Web | Flash Sleek style sets this Web OS apart, as does the ability (using a separate utility) to sync files, bookmarks, and e-mail from your real OS. Read our full review of Glide Effortless.

gOS
www.thinkgos.com
Linux Ubuntu-based and powered by Google’s apps (just don’t call it Google OS), gOS comes with the $200 PCs from Wal-Mart, but you can download it for any PC.

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