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10 must-have downloads for Windows 7

Improve Microsoft's new OS with these downloads

Windows 7 is faster and more efficient than its predecessor Vista. However, that doesn't mean it can't be improved upon further. We've compiled a list of 10 valuable software tools - many of them free - that can make your Win 7 experience a lot more rewarding.

There's no doubt that Microsoft new OS, Windows 7, is faster and more efficient than its predecessor Vista.

However, that doesn't mean it can't be improved upon further.

We've compiled a list of 10 valuable software tools - many of them free - that can make your Win 7 experience a lot more rewarding.

Microsoft Security Essentials

Like its predecessors, Windows 7 doesn't provide built-in protection against malware such as viruses and spyware. (It does have a firewall, however.)

You could pay McAfee or Symantec for this service, but why bother when Redmond's service does the same thing for free?

Microsoft Security Essentials provides solid protection for home PCs, and it's gratis. If you prefer third-party security, check out AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition instead.

Ninite

Brave souls upgrading to Windows 7 from XP must do a clean install, a tedious process that includes, among other things, reinstalling all apps.

Instead, why not load most of your free and open-source programs all at once? Ninite does just that. First, go to the Ninite site and pick the programs you want (for instance, Firefox, iTunes, and Skype).

Next, download Ninite, which installs the apps on your PC without introducing additional crapware. Ninite is free for personal use.

Windows Live Photo Gallery

To keep Windows 7 slim and trim - and to avoid the code bloat that slowed Vista - Microsoft left a few utilities out of its new operating system.

One such app, Photo Gallery, is a free, easy-to-use photo manager/editor that's worth a download, particularly if you aren't already using Google Picasa to organise your pics and videos.

Windows Easy Transfer

If you are moving to Windows 7 from XP or Vista, you should check out this free download, which helps you copy files and settings from one PC to another. (Windows 7 comes with Easy Transfer.)

The new version of Easy Transfer adds a file explorer, which simplifies the task of selecting the specific files you want to copy.

Easy Transfer won't hang if it comes across a file or setting it can't move. Rather, it will complete the transfer and then provide a report detailing everything it couldn't copy.

The bad news: Easy Transfer won't copy your programs. For a PC-to-PC connection, you'll need an Easy Transfer Cable (about £13). Other transfer options include a USB flash drive, an external hard disk, or a network connection.

Ultimate Windows Tweaker v2

This free customisation tool detects whether you're running Windows 7 or Vista, and offers only the tweaks relevant to your OS.

'Ultimate' is a fitting description for this mega-tweaker, which provides dozens of configuration options for UI, network, security, and system settings. If you're all about personalising Windows 7, this app is for you.

Broadband speed test

NEXT PAGE: Even more downloads for Windows 7

  1. You've got Microsoft's new OS so now improve it with these downloads
  2. Even more downloads for Windows 7


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