Essential Windows tools

I’m actually a Mac and Linux convert, but use a Windows PC [for work] on a daily basis. And as all of you may know, Windows doesn’t provide a lot of the “essential” and/or “nice-to-have” tools out-of-the-box (which I think are essential) compared to OS X and Linux. Why another list? Why not? So here’s my list, in no particular order:

  • FireFox – The best browser (duh?)! Just check out the add-ons.
  • AVG – The best free anti-virus software out there.
  • Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack – Free and it’s essential if you administer AD, etc.
  • PS Tools – Best command-line tools from Systinternals.
  • WinRAR – Way, way better than WinZip.
  • visionApp – An excellent alternative to Windows’ Remote Desktop Manager. You can save credentials and pair it to any connection for auto-login (only on XP/2K3 and up).
  • RealVNC – RDP’s not the only remote control software out there.
  • UltraMon – A really must-have if using dual monitors.
  • Windows PowerShell – A new, excellent shell from Microsoft that uses the .NET Framework in a scripting environment and method.
  • Taskbar Manager – If you’re like me, you like your apps opened and sequenced in a certain order, especially, when a program crashes.
  • Cygwin – This virtual workspace mimics a *nix environment, which becomes handy when you need to perform text parsing.
  • PuTTY – A must have if you need to access routers, SSH tunnels, and telnet.
  • TextPad – Not only can you use it for .txt files, but you can take advantage of the highlighting features it provides to program in C, C++, Perl, etc.

That’s it! Hopefully, this list will help you become a more productive and efficient Windows user.

Disclaimer: Some tools I mention are not free, but I’ve found them to be invaluable in numerous occasions. Some of the tools can also be older, but again, invaluable.