THE BEST FREE PC SOFTWARE
Tool up your PC for less with 39 essential gratis apps
Tool up your PC for less with our recommendations of 39 essential gratis apps.
Free software drives the PC industry. Paidfor packages might seem to be the better option in general (and if you’re in industry, you’ll need the professional support options that come from paying up), but it’s the no-bucks-down applications that make life as an everyday PC user worth living.
We have three things to thank for the delicious software cornucopia that we’ve spread on the table today. First, the dedication and skill of the opensource community, predominantly those propping up the Linux world. These guys see a problem, they find something they want to do, and just go ahead and make it, offering up the software—and the building blocks that put it together—to the world when they’re done. Thanks, folks. You rock, and you make the next generation of software better.
Second, we must thank the power of competition. Take web browsers: Had one tech big boy not stuck his finger in the Internet pie, chances are the rest of them wouldn’t have followed suit in a bid to do things better, and taste that sweet, sweet market share and goodwill. Their generosity might be tinged with a combination of industrial malice and “you are the product” data collection, but sometimes you pay for your software in something other than hard cash.
Thirdly, and perhaps a little ironically, good old capitalism has a big role to play in the existence of the best free software. Some apps are made as alternatives to software that people resent having to pay for. Some are a free sample, a tantalizing justuseful-enough morsel to encourage you to invest in the whole meal. Whatever the reason, you get something awesome, and you don’t have to pay a cent.
So, let’s go ahead and make your life better by making your PC more capable. Let’s get you set up to try new things, to create more, to break down format boundaries, to enjoy yourself. Let’s go free: We’ve trawled the web, canvassed our colleagues, and batted away a host of competitors to compile this guide to the absolute best free software for Windows and, in many cases, Linux, too.