“Free” is a very popular word nowadays, with a lot of developers creating some pretty amazing software that they distribute for free, both on mobile and desktop operating systems. Of course, free in most cases means only “free to use”, because developers still make money by displaying ads or having a pro version that is paid and has a few great features absent from the free version.
Windows is no exception – in fact, it is the OS with the largest software database (which sadly isn’t available in a single location, but Google is your friend) and there are a lot of great applications that are completely free and can easily compete with other, paid products. Here’s just a short list I believe you should check out:
Fireshot. Fireshot is a free add-on to the popular Mozilla Firefox browser, and it brings you snapshot and image editing capabilities straight to your browser. You can take snapshots of a full web page, a selected area or an element and then edit it with your own annotations, cropping, resizing, etc. After saving the resulted image in high quality PNG format, you can send it to anyone you want or post it on a blog. There’s also a Pro version, but the free version has enough features to satisfy nearly everyone. Download Fireshot from Brothersoft
Mozilla Thunderbird. Mozilla’s Thunderbird email client was very popular a few years back, and even though its popularity seems to have declined (mainly because of the slow updates after version 3), the development didn’t stop, and now, at version 7, it’s practically the best email client for Windows, at the same level as Outlook 2010 and even better in some cases. It has a nice interface, supports multiple accounts, filters and auto replies, plus in traditional Mozilla fashion, it has a lot of add-ons and themes for it, so you can extend its functionality even further. Best of all – it’s still completely free!
Dropbox. Dropbox was one of the first cloud storage services to begin operation, and after a long time in the shadows, they finally became one of the most popular services in the world. The basic package is free, and the Dropbox app for Windows allows you to upload anything you want, sync files with your online account and any other machines (Windows, Mac OS X and even Android smartphones and the iPhone/iPad, too) that have the client installed, and more. Using the app is easy – it’s basically like a folder on your computer, so just install, setup and drag-n-drop – it’s that easy. Get Dropbox
Evernote. Evernote is THE tool for taking and saving notes. Not only does it let you save bookmarks, video, audio and text notes, but you can also sort them, tag them, set up reminders, apply filters for an easy management, and sync them with your online account or any other device with Evernote installed – and they have clients for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, iOS and Windows 7 Phone – practically every OS out there. Download Evernote from Brothersoft
SyncToy. SyncToy is Microsoft’s own tool for easy file and folder synchronization. It was originally part of the PowerToys pack for Windows XP, but it has grown into its own app. You can basically, sync any two folders, with your chosen settings for the files that are replaced, copied and deleted. It’s simple, effective, and of course, free. Download SyncToy from Brothersoft
Even though Windows is a commercially oriented operating system (unlike Linux, for example), there are still a lot of free apps out there, some of which may blow you away with their functionality. The collection in this article is just the beginning – there are many other great programs to be found on this s, simply sit down and read!