My machine runs XP with Office 2007. I have OpenOffice on my system, in case someone sends me an OpenOffice document, but I prefer Office 2007. Adobe Reader’s sluggishness and security problems make it a poor choice for a PDF reader, so I use Foxit Reader with no hesitation or problems. For an internet browser, I use Firefox but may switch to Chrome. I use 7-Zip for .zip files and do my searching in Windows Search 4.0, because it integrates into Windows better than the Google Search does.
Windows Explorer is replaced on my machine with xplorer2. There are many alternatives to Windows Explorer and once you have experienced file management with tabs and saved sessions, you will wonder how you worked without them.
I have two plug-ins for Outlook: MX Logic for spam control, which has a one-button solution that completely deletes the offending message and sends a message back to MX reporting the email as spam, and the LinkedIn Outlook Toolbar, which routinely scours my email for contact information and has a Grab button that puts a person’s email contact information into an Outlook Contact file. It is a very intuitive system. I also have Google Calendar Sync, which synchronizes my Google Calendar with Outlook twice daily. It has not caused any problems.
I use my laptop for other people’s presentations at Technology First events and therefore have multiple media players and codecs to cover every scenario (ha!). For videos, VLC, QuickTime and Windows Media Player are installed. I like VLC the most out of that list. My extra codecs are Codec Pack – All In and K-Lite Codec Pack.
For music players, I primarily use Songbird, but also have iTunes and WinAmp. I like that Songbird has extensions and is open source. Songbird has some bugs and lacks the features of iTunes and WinAmp, but overall it works well.
I really like Paint.Net and recommend it frequently. Still, I use Gimp more often to edit pictures because it is more feature-rich, especially in dealing with text. Gimp has become much more user friendly in recent iterations. I like InkScape as a graphics editor but have trouble getting it to import PDFs cleanly, which is a killer feature.
I like multi-protocol IM clients. I have used Trillian in the past but currently use Digsby. It does all of the major IM protocols as well as all of the social media and web mail sites. I wish everyone used IM. I sometimes use Digsby to tweet but prefer to use TweetDeck for most Twitter activity. I also use and really like Skype.
I use three little scripts to augment Windows XP. TaskSwitchXP gives XP a preview of the screen when switching between windows using Alt-Tab. To help organize taskbar items, I use Taskbar Shuffle to move things around. Finally, Windows7 shortcut gives XP the cool Windows 7 functionality of moving windows to half the screen. It is great to use on modern monitors.
To help with Windows Wi-Fi network tool, I use an additional program. I have been using Network Stumbler but that program does not recognize –N and appears to no longer being developed. I am currently trying alternatives including inSSIDer.
I use EyeDefender to prevent eyestrain. Google Earth is also installed because it really is one of the coolest applications ever developed. I have Shakespeare Reader on this computer because it is great to have an application that has all of Shakespeare’s plays. I never use this application. I do use FreeMind to mind map projects.
With all of the programs that I use and try, it’s important to have a couple of things to help keep my system in order. Most essential is CCleaner, which handles un-installs well enough and cleans up the registry and systems. The best uninstall program is Revo Uninstaller; it is very thorough and does a great job with hard to uninstall programs. I replaced the usage of Window’s Defragger with MyDefrag, a seemingly more comprehensive solution.
Finally, I keep my programs up to date with Filehippo’s and Secunia’s update programs. Filehippo’s is easier to use but Secunia’s is more comprehensive.
Please let me know where I am wrong in the comments.