If you've just purchased a new PC and are a little short of funds, you might want to try out these free-to-use alternatives to popular essential applications.

Things You Will Need

Buying a PC can be an expensive proposition, and it may not leave you with enough funds to buy Windows license or productivity software for PC security and media. Here are some free alternatives that will do the job just as well.


Ubuntu is a free and open source operating system with a Linux kernel. Unlike the usual Linux-based application, Ubuntu has a Graphical User Interface (GUl) or desktop environment called GNOME. Since it is an open source application, you can create multiple copies or ever modify the source code as per the provision of the GNU GPL license. Version 8.10 is the latest offering, which comes with 18 months of free updates and full 3G support. The OS comes, loaded with OpenOffice.org office suite, Firefox as the Internet browser, Pidgin (formerly known as Gaim) as the default messenger services, and GIMP as the graphics editor. Apart from several lightweight preinstalled games such as Sudoku and chess, Ubuntu also provides bit torrent client transmission support for the desktop version. It might, however, take some time to get used to for novice users. Download from 'www.Ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download'.


While the transition from MS office 2003 to MS Office2007 was quite tedious for most users, jumping to an open source application instead can be a lot less taxing. There are several freeware and open source application you can pick from, including the OpenOffice.org 3, Gnome Office, KOffice, and IBM Lotus Symphony, to name a few. Most of these applications can be used either commercially or for personal use without worrying about the number of instances installed. The application supports a large number of commonly used office extensions and some variants like Go-oo also support MS Office 2007 formats. With a large number of templates, samples and clip arts available as free downloads, it is very easy to switch to any of these application if you are used to the Microsoft Offices 97-2003 or XP versions.


Many people don't realize that MS Outlook is a paid application under the MS Office suite. Even the free-to-use Outlook Express comes bundled with Windows, but isn't quite feature-rich. If you are looking for something more in your email client, you can opt for free applications like Eudora, Claws Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird. While Eudora can be used only across a Windows or Mac OS system, the other two are open source and cross-platform email clients. The applications can support S/MIME for secure email, POP and IMAP, and come equipped with a built-in RSS/Atom reader for simple news aggregation. The cross platform applications are offered in over 25 languages.


If you plan to use external devices like flash drives, or get an Internet connection for your computer, you require a good antivirus program. While you would get a better and wider range of protection from a paid antivirus application, freeware antivirus utilities do not offer protection against root kits and spam, nor can you secure network servers. If you want basic protection, you can choose from a host of free applications like AVG Antivirus, Avast! And Avira Antivirus, and ZoneAlarm Firewall system to protect your system from viruses and spyware applications. However, you would require an Internet connection to keep the antivirus program updated.


Most of the popular web browsers, including Internet Explorer 8, are available as a free download. While you do get IE8 with the Windows Vista and Window 7 operating systems, it is compatible with windows XP too. If you are not a Windows user, you can opt for Mozilla Firefox instead. The second most widely used web browser after Internet Explorer, Firefox 3 is a free and open source web browser from the Mozilla Application Suite, which can be used with almost all popularly used operating systems. You can also opt for an Opera browser if you are used to Opera Mini on your smartphone.


Compressed files offer the perfect solution to not only sends huge files, but also to email folders that are generally not accepted as attachments. While Windows offers a free compressed folder viewer option, this works only with ZIP files. Another popular free-to-use option is WinRaR, which supports both ZIP and RAR files. WinRAR also supports Splitting and later combining of spilt files. But if you want to use encryption with compressed files or need better compatibility with a variety of extensions, PeaZip is a better option. It is a free-to-use file archiving application that supports 14 different formats, and as additional 23 formats to open, browse, extract and test archived files, but you cannot create archives using these formats.


After developing the Portable Documents Format (PDF) for transferring files in a standard format, Adobe Systems provides Adobe Reader (formerly known as Acrobat Reader) as a free download to view and print PDF files. The Application is available for most of the popular operating systems and also for portable devices. However, this application tends to slow down your system considerably. You can opt for other free PDF readers instead, which include Evince, Foxit Reader, GSview, Nitro PDF Reader, Nuance PDF Reader, PDF-XChange Viewer, Qiqqa, Sumatra PDF, STDU Viewer of the Microsoft Reader for eBooks with LIT extension.


Most of the popular music players are offered as free downloads. This includes a variety of applications including iTunes, Media Monkey, Winamp, and Songbird (the latter two are open source digital media players). Most of these players also enable you to access websites to purchase music. These applications also enable iPod syncing.


VLC media player is a free open source media player. The application is available under the GNU General Public License. VLC player can play any audio or video file with the user required to download and install the necessary codecs or add-on packages. The application is compatible with most popular operating systems. It is also the first player to support playback of encrypted DVDs on Linux. You can also download and use the K-Lite Codec pack, which includes the Windows Media Player classic, which can play most of the popular video formats with ease.


If you enjoy digital photograph, then you need an application which will not only help you with the basic fixes for you images, but also something that helps you arrange and sort them with ease. One such freeware application is Picasa 3, which enables you to carry out a range of various image-related activities, including viewing images, basic image enhancements, importing image from external devices, creating girt CDs, movie clips, making photo collages, taking screenshots, and carrying out batch editing of images. You can also upload pictures to your Google Picasa web account, add images to your BlogSpot blog, add Gadgets to your images, and order photo prints online. The latest version comes with a Picasa Photo Viewer application to display a quick preview of your images.


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