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Free Alternatives to Windows Programs

New substitutes for built-in Windows programs have been popping up all over the place. The alternatives listed below can sometimes be more useful or simply more fun. We all need a little change once in a while, right?

Replacements for Wordpad include…
* OpenOffice – a Java based office suite that is perfect for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases, and more. It allows you to store your information in an international open standard format.

* AbiWord – You are able to collaborate with multiple people on one document at the same time. You can store documents online, share them with your friends, and convert formats easily.

Replacements for Notepad
* Notepad++ – a text editor that supports several languages. It has a higher execution speed and smaller program size. It’s trying to reduce the world carbon dioxide emissions since it uses less CPU power.


* Notepad2 – this is a fast and light weight Notepad-style text editor with syntax highlighting. Since it can be run without installation, it doesn’t need to access your system’s registry.

Replacements for Calculator
* Power Calculator (Windows XP only) – an upgraded calculator where you can graph and do various other functions the regular Windows calculator cannot.

Replacements for Built In Unzipping Utility
* 7-Zip – is a self extracting file archive with a high compression ratio. It is a powerful file manager, command line version, and has localizations for 74 languages.


* TUGZip – is an archiving utility that provides support for compressed, encoded, and disc-image files.

Replacements for Windows Media Player
* foobar2000 –this is an advanced freeware audio player that only plays audio. You can easily customize it and it supports various formats without plugins.

* iTunes – the ultimate Apple Media player which has access to millions of songs and videos through the iTunes music store.

* Songbird –This integrates itself with online music content. You can select the features you want and change the interface to suit your mood.


* VLC Media Player – Plays various media formats, but does not contain a library.

* Miro – This is a popular open-source for videos. You can download torrents, podcasts and play any video. There is support for video websites like Youtube.

Replacements for Windows Media Center
* XBMC for Windows – an entertainment hub for digital media and it is open source. It is the ideal solution for your home theater.

* Elisa – a support system for various media formats, devices, and Internet integration.


Replacements for Paint
* GIMP – the GNU Image Manipulation Program allows photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring.

* Paint.NET – Has various features such as support for layers, unlimited undo options, and tutorials.

Replacements for Remote Desktop
* TightVNC – With more features, it can set up servers and client software on the main controlling computer.

* UltraVNC – Very similar to TightVNC, it can also support text chat, encryption, and Java viewer.

* TeamViewer – You can transfer files without having to change your firewall settings. Great for both Windows and Mac.


Replacements for Windows Photo Gallery / Windows Picture and Fax Viewer
* Windows Live Photo Gallery – An upgraded version of Windows Photo Gallery that gives you tons of photo library tools.

* IrfanView – With various features such as manipulation and conversion, this is a great light image reader.

* XnView –Much like IrfanView, this also includes manipulation, conversion, and meta data editing.

Replacements for Windows Movie Maker
* Jahshaka – Has various more functions than Windows and is open source to boot!

* LiVES – mixes realtime video performance and non-linear editing so you can edit and make videos right away. No need to worry about formats or frame sizes.

Replacements for Windows Messenger
* Windows Live Messenger – Has various functions and is integrated with Yahoo messenger.

* Pidgin – Can be integrated with Yahoo, AIM, Gtalk, Jabber, and several others.

* Digsby – Not only can it support various protocols, it can also be integrated with Facebook.

* Miranda IM—smaller, faster, and easier this is an open-source multi-protocol instant messenger.

* Yahoo! Messenger –Has tons of settings and skins, and allows you to see updates from Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook.

Replacements for Windows Explorer
* xplorer2 – Features like dual pane and tabbed browsing make this the upgraded version of Windows Explorer.

* Free Commander – Also offers dual pane, tabbed browsing, archive handling, and file wiping features that are easy to use.

Replacements for Windows Firewall
* Comodo Firewall Pro – offers firewall protection, antivirus software, and proactive security. You will get protection for both inbound and outbound connections.

* ZoneAlarm Free Firewall – Protects your computer from hackers by hiding it from unsolicited network traffic.

Replacements for Start Menu
* Vista Start Menu –a much larger start menu that is easier to navigate for your applications and tasks.

* Launchy –launches your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks by typing in a portion of the application name.

* ViStart – For XP users, this reduces the time needed to search for programs since it indexes your program shortcuts. When you type part of the program into the start menu, it will be able to find it right away.


Do a Google Search today and give these alternatives a try!

~Zahid Javali