Office Softwares

Open Office

Undoubtedly the free software offering that saves you the most cash. A complete replacement for Microsoft Office that is continually being improved. There are occasional incompatibilities with certain Word documents, their spreadsheet utility may not have all of the more advanced capabilities of Excel, and there is (currently) no integration with professional standard citation managers (important for academic writers), but on-the-whole this amazing package adequately replaces Word, Excel and Powerpoint without costing you a penny.

PDF Utilities


Need Adobe Acrobat (the hugely expensive PDF creation system)? Chances are: NO!!! This package (which also needs the freeware “Ghostscript” installed on your system – it downloads it for you) creates a windows printer device on your system that when you print to, saves a PDF of the printout directly to your hard drive. The panacea of a paperless office is here! Print web-receipts and other documents (including scanned-in paper copes of receipts and documents) to PDF files and back them up to CDR to create complete archives of your records without needing to kill trees to do it. It is also THE way to share documents online, as everyone has access the freeware Acrobat reader.

Adobe Acrobat Reader

This is simply a must-have for every system as it allows PDF format documents to be viewed on your system.

Foxit Reader

Another free PDF reader, this time not as bloated as Adobe Acrobat Reader – recommended for slower computers, or people who hate waiting for Adobe Acrobat Reader to open.

Internet Software

Google Chrome

My current favourite – it is quick and the menus and tabs take up the least screen “real estate” whilst remaining useful.


Firefox is quicker and more versatile than IE and importantly is not integrated into the XP system, so cannot damage your system by reaching into parts of the system that IE can reach.


Opera is completely advertisement-free on Windows XP.

Google Mail

I recommend the use of webmail over traditional “pop” mail, and also recommend Google Mail over the others. Why?
1) It is free
2) Webmail stays off your computer, so you can avoid downloading viri and malware to your PC
3) If you like (and if you are on dialup), you can download your Google Mail messages as if it is normal POP mail
4) It has efficient spam filters
5) Using a customised personal google webpage, you can see if you have any new google mail directly in your homepage.

There are a couple of reservations with Google Mail. Because it is US-Based, I believe that “their laws apply” so expect to have your mail searched by the CIA (although this potentially happens with any email). I also heard that if you delete google mail from your account, the google mail servers still retain a copy of the message (although again, this can potentially happen with other sorts of mail system).


Those on dial-up internet access will probably still want to retain their email on their computer. The best free alternative (it doesn’t even feature any adverts) is Mozilla’s “Thunderbird”.


Free, and importantly advert-free multiple instant-messaging client (it used to be called “GAIM”). You can use it to simultaneously log into a Yahoo messenger account, an MSN messenger account and an AIM account. Importantly there is also only one chat window with different conversations in different tabs. For instant messaging, there is simply no alternative.  I must admit though, these days I am either on Skype or Facebook


Free audio-chat application. Also supports high-res video conference calls.

HTML Editing Software


Web pages can be made quickly and easily using the HTML Editor in the Mozilla Suite (now called “SeaMonkey”).
Usage: When I install SeaMonkey, I do a custom install of just the “Navigator” part, then go to: Edit -> Preferences -> Appearance and set “When SeaMonkey Starts Up Open” to just “Composer”. That way, everytime I launch SeaMonkey the HTML Editor (Composer) opens up read for me to edit a page. SeaMonkey can also be used to upload web pages, but I prefer to use WS_FTP95_LE.


Freeware FTP client for uploading files to webspace.

Security Software

AVG Free Anti Virus

Amazingly, a totally free anti-virus application with regular updates. Protecting windows from viri can be cost-free! (They also offer commercial software, so make sure you download the “free” version).  Just make sure you follow the links to download the “free” version – they also have a subscription-based one.

Spybot: Search & Destroy

Spyware removal tool. Useful, and free (use in conjunction with Ad-Aware)!  I must admit that I do not use this myself any more – scanning for spyware, adware and virii gets a little tiresome after a while…

Ad-Aware Free

Adware (malware/spyware) removal tool. Useful, and free (use in conjunction with Spybot: Search & Destroy)!  I must admit that I do not use this myself any more – scanning for spyware, adware and virii gets a little tiresome after a while…


Freeware file encryption – protect your valuable documents by locking them behind a password. Integrated into Windows XP for seamless encryption and decryption of files and folders.

Media Players

VideoLAN Client

Plays all media file and disc formats that I have ever thrown at it (importantly it also plays DVDs in case you have lost your DVD Player installer).


Great freeware audio file player / audio library organiser / podcast player / CD ripper application from Apple for Windows XP. I organise my music collection and administer my iPod through this application.

Audio Editing


Stereo audio recorder/editor. Can use the “lame” freeware encoder to save audio files directly to MP3 format. Useful for recording quick audio notes, or auditioning and editing stereo recordings.

Screen Capture

Windows Media Encoder 9

You can record what happens on your screen (mouse movements, application settings etc.) for distribution as training videos for example, using Windows Media Encoder.  A guide can be found here.

Image Editing


Freeware image organiser from Google. Organise your digital images and create web albums quickly easily. Importantly you can also scan in old photos giving them appropriate dates for inclusion in the album, and apply intuitive and powerful image sweetening effects as you go, or at any time thereafter.


Advanced image editing application. Freeware replacement for Paintshop Pro / Photoshop


Eugin Bruce


System Administrator

Arunachala College of Engineering for Women

‘Thanka Gardens”, Manavilai, Vellichanthai – 629 203

Kanyakumari District,

South India.