Looking for free Windows software alternatives? Microsoft Windows bundles a number of software applications in order to provide a basic experience, such as Internet Explorer, Wordpad, and others.
Here are our top picks for awesome FREE alternatives to popular and pricey commercial software. This page lists replacements for basic Windows software and utilities. If you have a suggestion, feel free to let us know and we may add it.
As you can see, there are tons of resources here. If you come across any that are no longer active or if you have another resource you’d like to suggest, let us know by clicking here.
GIMP, or GNU Image Manipulation Program if you can’t stand acronyms, is a popular open source alternative to Photoshop. Don’t let the fact that it’s free fool you; even though it’s not quite as polished or feature-rich as Photoshop, there’s a lot you can do with GIMP beyond just resizing and retouching. A robust set of integrated tools and an extensive plugin library make it a more-than-capable image manipulator, not just an editor. GIMP is also platform-flexible in that it supports Windows, Mac OS X, and of course, Linux.
What started off as Windows Live OneCare eventually morphed into a capable and free AntiVirus solution known as Microsoft Security Essentials. Surprisingly effective for a relative newcomer, the latest version adds heuristic scanning and improved Firewall integration. Just be sure you’re rocking a legit copy of Windows.
Don’t need the feature-rich complexity of GIMP? No problem. Most photo-sharing sites, like Flickr and Photobucket, let you make basic changes, but the cool thing about Adobe’s online Photo Express Editor is that it aggregates your photos from those and other portals, including Facebook, and neatly organizes them. You can also upload up to 2GB of photos for free.
Microsoft Security Essentials does an outstanding job at beating back viruses, but sometimes you need an extra bodyguard or two to keep things in line. Unlike anti virus software, which digs deep into your OS, anti-spyware applications can be run in tandem. Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware provide a potent one-two punch combo, oftentimes catching what the other doesn’t. Combined with Microsoft Security Essentials, you’ll have a three-headed monster that loves to munch on malware.
We love a good Cinderella story, and that’s what we have with LibreOffice. You see, when Oracle took over Sun Microsystems, it created a near instant riff with the developers of OpenOffice, whose open-source ideology didn’t mesh with Oracle’s proprietary mindset. Several key programmers jumped ship and went on to create LibreOffice, a fork of OpenOffice with the backing of several industry bigwigs, including Canonical, Google, and Red Hat. Ready for the clincher? You can save documents compatible with Microsoft Word (including .docx) sans the heavy price tag!
Whether you’re rocking a desktop, server rig, or a netbook, there’s a version of Ubuntu designed just for you. Ubuntu is perhaps the easiest of all Linux distros to use, providing a pain-free way of cutting those costly Windows shackles. What about games, you ask? If a title isn’t supported natively, use WineHQ, which lets you run windows software in Linux.
We still adore Dropbox, we really do. It’s just that SugarSync is a tad more flexible. It offers cloud-based file syncing, just like Dropbox, and you can easily share files between PCs. But SugarSync goes the extra mile by letting you sync multiple folders across multiple systems. We also appriciate its robust mobile platform support (iPad, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian devices) and remote access from any web browser. You get 5GB for free, and 500MB for every sucessful referral (if they sign up for a paid plan, you both get an additional 10GB).
Let Professor Penny Rich and Doctor Deep Pockets debate which is better, Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image. Both are great, but both will set you back at least fifty dollars. Sir Save-A-Lot’s solution? Macrium Reflect, a no-cost cloning program that works with XP, Vista, and Windows 7 in both 32-bit and 64-bit form. With it you can create a disk image even while running Windows, a rare trick for free cloning software. There’s a built-in scheduler and you can even image to a network, USB, or FireWire drive, as well as optical media.
Microsoft continues to improve upon Windows’ built-in partitioning tool, but sometimes it’s not enough. Easeus Partition Master Home Edition comes to the rescue with a robust partition manager priced at 100 pennies less than a buck… (that’s free if you haven’t caught on). It supports hard disks as small as 2GB and as massive as 4TB, and it also works with removabledevices. The list of tricks is long, including the ability to extend a system partition; resize, move, merge, split, and copy partitions; redistribute free space; scan a disk for bad sectors; support hardware RAID; rebuild the MBR; convert FAT to NTFS; convert partition types; secure file deletion; and more.
WINDOWS SOFTWARE ALTERNATIVES
Internet Explorer Alternatives Mozilla Firefox – a fast, open source, secure, and extendable browser from Mozilla. Offers a number of features over Internet Explorer, including Smart Location Bar, Places Manager, and a rich database of extensions.
Opera – Feature-rich browser. Includes email client, BitTorrent downloads, Speed Dial (page with quick access to favorite websites), and mouse gestures.
Safari – Ported from Mac OSX, Apple brings Safari to Windows. Features private browsing and other enhancements.
Wordpad Alternatives OpenOffice – a Java based office suite with features that rival the commercial Microsoft Office, and is compatible with Microsoft�s own formats.
AbiWord – Word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. While it does not include all the applications of OpenOffice, it can serve as a replacement for Wordpad.
Notepad Alternatives Notepad++– a feature-rich text editor. Features syntax highlighting, function completion, tabs, and a plethora of other capabilities.
Notepad2 – While not as feature-rich as Notepad++, it offers a simple replacement for Notepad with syntax highlighting.
Calculator Alternatives Power Calculator (XP only) – Microsoft offers a free more powerful alternative to the built in Calculator.
Command Prompt Alternatives CygWin – CygWin emulates the Linux shell for Windows, allowing you to work with a more powerful command line.
Built In Unzipping Utility Alternatives 7-Zip – Supports a number of formats, including RAR, ZIP, TAR, & 7z; can generate a self extracting archive.
TUGZip – Supports a wide range of formats and can create a self extracting archive.
Windows Media Player Alternatives foobar2000 – While only audio, supports a wide range of formats without plugins, and has low memory usage and is extremely customizable.
iTunes – Media player from Apple. Provides access to the iTunes Music Store (although not recommended as it bundles DRM with songs).
Songbird – In alpha stage, integrates well with music websites. Supports syncing to other devices.
VLC Media Player – Does not have a library feature, but plays almost any media format.
Miro – Video only, features RSS downloading, BitTorrent, and support for video websites such as YouTube.
Windows Media Center Alternatives XBMC for Windows – Supports a large number of formats and is skinnable.
Elisa – Provides support for a large number of media formats, external devices, auto detection of media on the network, and basic Internet integration.
Paint Alternatives GIMP – Advanced image editor with functionality similar to Adobe Photoshop.
Paint.NET – While not as advanced as GIMP, Paint.NET provides a large feature set, including support for layers and unlimited undo.
Windows Search Alternatives Google Desktop Search – Allows you to search the computer and Internet history in an interface similar to Google Web Search. Also provides a sidebar and quick launch utility.
Add/Remove Programs Alternatives Revo Uninstaller – Powerful uninstaller that attempts to remove all traces of a program when uninstalling.
Disk Cleanup Alternatives CCleaner – Searches system for unneeded files and cleans them. Also has a registry cleaner, start up manager, and minimalistic Add/Remove Programs interface.
Remote Desktop Alternatives TightVNC – TightVNC sets up a server on the computer you want to control, and client software on the controlling computer. Offers a number of features over Remote Desktop.
UltraVNC – Like TightVNC, with support for a Java viewer, text chat, and encryption.
TeamViewer – Quick setup, with support for both Windows and Mac. Has file transfer; no firewall setting changes needed.
Windows Photo Gallery / Windows Picture and Fax Viewer Alternatives Windows Live Photo Gallery – Microsoft provides an enhanced version of Windows Photo Gallery free, as part of the Windows Live suite. Provides photo library tools.
IrfanView – Light image viewer with a wide range of features, including image manipulation and conversion.
XnView – Another light image viewer with a wide range of features. Image manipulation, conversion, and meta data editing are a few features.
Windows Movie Maker Alternatives Jahshaka – Offers much more functionality than Windows Movie Maker. Open source.
LiVES – Not available for Windows natively, but can boot from a Live CD. Has a greater feature set than Windows Movie Maker.
Windows Messenger Alternatives Windows Live Messenger – Offers more functionality (and bloat) than Windows Messenger. Supports only the MSN protocol, with some integration with Yahoo.
Pidgin – Supports a wide range of protocols, including Yahoo!, MSN, IRC, AIM, Google Talk, Jabber, and others. Extendable with plugins.
Digsby – Supports a wide range of protocols as Pidgin does, and also features integration with social media such as Facebook.
Miranda IM – Light messenger with support for a wide range of protocols. Highly extendable.
Yahoo! Messenger – Offers some integration with the MSN protocol. Mainly supports the Yahoo! protocol.
Windows Explorer Alternatives xplorer2 – Offers a wide range of features over Windows Explorer, including dual pane and tabbed browsing.
Windows Shell Alternatives Blackbox for Windows – An alternative light shell replacement for Windows, based off of the Blackbox Window Manager. Highly customizable.
Disk Defragmenter Alternatives JkDefragGUI – Is able to defrag when your screensaver comes on. Has other powerful features.
Outlook Express / Windows Mail Alternatives Mozilla Thunderbird – Email client from Mozilla. Extendable with plugins and themes.
Windows Live Mail – An improved version of Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail is part of the Windows Live suite.
Evolution – Originally for Linux, Evolution is now available for Windows, offering an Outlook-like GUI.
Mail functionality is also provided by SeaMonkey (formerly Mozilla) and Opera
Windows Firewall Alternatives Comodo Firewall Pro – Protects outbound connections as well as inbound connections, unlike Windows Firewall. Has database of ”safe” software to prevent unnecessary warnings.