My Alternative Free Software On Windows


Here are my picks for free software on Windows (currently Windows 7). Free and open source (two different licenses applied to software) have come a long way and have come to replace my ageing proprietary and non-free applications. I list my choices below in this post.

Multimedia Player

VLC – stands for Video Lan Client is an open source player that runs on all 3 major platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac). It supports a very wide varity of codecs and video formats. The player has plugins for web browsers and can be used to play music and videos.

I use it as my video player as it does not have a library component to manage my music and videos but does have a playlist feature.

Web Browser

Mozilla Firefox – I have been using Netscape 6 browser back in the day when the company still existed. Even though it was slow and crashed every so often it did not deter me from trying a different browser to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. I leapt straight onto Firefox (what was called Phoenix at the time of it’s alpha launch) version 0.6 and stuck with it since. Whilst Safari and Opera has improved over the years along with Firefox moving to 3.5 very quickly.


Mozilla Thunderbird – An open source using standard design I have used it for well over 2 years now. Whilst it feels lacking in terms of polish and that bit of TLC compared to Mozilla’s web browser offering it still forefills the task as a good email client. I do find it lacking development and features sometimes for example the lack of naitive calendar integration so I’m less likely to hold onto the software if a new and better software came out.

File Compression

7Zip – This is a free and open source software (FOSS) which handles a lot of different compression protocols from 7zip (it’s own format) to zip and rars. The UI could do with some work but it does have context menu built into Windows.

Drawing – Initially developed to replace paint in Windows it uses the .net framework and is free. The software does a lot of effects and enhancements to images all for no fee (but please donate to the project). It does all the simple things like cropping drawing to slightly more advanced tools like, layers, lots of undo levels and controls with good fine controls.

CD/DVD Burning

CDBurnerXPCDBurnerXP – Despite it’s name it does handle DVDs too. The software is not as good as Nero but does the job well enough. The software UI flow needs a bit of work but the burning part is faultless. When creating a project it detects the current media in the drive to determin the size. In my opinion I prefer to set what type of media I am going to burn because I don’t always take out pre-burnt or non writable media in the drive which means it will always say you don’t have enough space. Despite this it is free so I’m not going to complain – too much. It does not support any cover editing or light scribe burning.

PDF Reader

Foxit Reader – A much lighter version than Adobe’s PDF reader. It has all the features I use in Adobe Reader so it’s a perfect drop in replacement. The reader has plugins for web browsers so you can view PDF from within the browesr. It does have a tiny advertisment in the top right corner below the windows border.

FTP Client

Filezilla – A free and open source FTP program. It has a lot of options and clever download / upload queue which you can specify what you want to do with file conflicts. Transfer limites can be set by the user from number of simultaneous file downs to the speed at which it down / upload files.

Remote Desktop

RealVNC – It’s one of the stable tools in Linux but it is available on cross platform. The server application isn’t as secure but if you hide it behind a firewall and tunnel in it should be safe. It’s very basic but it works and quicker than Remote Desktop on slow connections. There is a free and paid version depending on your needs.


I still have use non-free software because I have yet to find an alternative to fill it’s place. A good site to search for alternative software is at

These are the following programs I need to find a good replacement for:

I would like to use agile light weight applications where it does not require say Mono on Windows but keeping them as independent as possible. Any suggestions or recommendations are welcome. I will try and update the list in the future.

About Danny

I.T software professional always studying and applying the knowledge gained and one way of doing this is to blog. Danny also has participates in a part time project called Energy@Home [] for monitoring energy usage on a premise. Dedicated to I.T since studying pure Information Technology since the age of 16, Danny Tsang working in the field that he has aimed for since leaving school. View all posts by Danny → This entry was posted in Software and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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