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The 10 best free Windows software programs

10 Open Source apps that will improve your PC

If you run Microsoft Windows, you owe it to yourself to try these 10 killer open source apps as they'll improve your PC experience no end.

While you may think that free and open-source software and Windows don't go hand-in-hand, you're actually wrong. There exists a growing landscape of compelling free and open source solutions just waiting for the intrepid Windows user.

You probably already know one of them well. Firefox has long stood as a prime example of how the open source development process can work to deliver a first-class solution that rivals, and in many ways surpasses, the best that the commercial side has to offer.

However, it would be a mistake to make that arduous (for novices) trek to Mozilla's website and stop there. Over the horizon are many more treasures waiting to be discovered, including tools that can improve your productivity, expand your lines of communication, and help keep you safe from threats along the way.

So if your perspective on open source is limited to smiling penguins, read on - and learn about some of the free open source gems that deserve your consideration. Who knows? You may find yourself developing a whole new perspective on the open source community.

Get well-connected with FileZilla

FileZilla is one of those essential internet tools that you just can't live without. A full-featured Windows FTP client, FileZilla makes interacting with FTP sites an efficient, productive process.

I'm particularly fond of FileZilla's handling of batch transfers. I mostly use the program to update various remote websites I manage, and I find its ability to process large sets of modified source files to be especially helpful. Most operations are a simple drag-and-drop affair.

However, when I need to exert more control over the transfer, I can tap into FileZilla's dizzying array of configuration parameters - for example, using a time zone offset to synchronise files from a distant location, a convenient feature when you live on a remote island that's nine hours ahead of your servers.

FileZilla truly is a Swiss Army Knife of a transfer program, and that is ultimately its undoing. In their quest to cover every conceivable FTP scenario, the developers have created a bit of a Frankenstein product, with multiple mixed UI metaphors clashing with one another. For example, the program (now in version 3.1) sports an archaic-looking, Windows 3.x-era toolbar.

However, most of the more powerful features and options are buried inside its old-school menus and tree-view-laden dialog boxes.

FileZilla's main UI window is also a throwback, with a confusing four-panel directory tree and contents layout that's reminiscent of the old Windows File Manager application. In fact, everything about the FileZilla UI feels a bit dated, possibly a side effect of its cross-platform heritage.

Bottom line: FileZilla isn't going to win any Windows UI beauty contests. But if you can look past the ancient exterior, you'll discover one of the most powerful FTP clients available on Windows, Apple Mac OS X, or Linux.

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NEXT PAGE: VirtualBox

  1. Open source apps to improve your PC experience
  2. VirtualBox
  3. OpenOffice
  4. Mozilla's Firefox
  5. Show your creative side with Paint.net
  6. Media Player Classic
  7. Satisfy your paranoid streak with TrueCrypt
  8. PDFCreator
  9. Tighten your belt with 7-Zip
  10. ClamWin


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