THE BEST FREE PC SOFT­WARE

Tool up your PC for less with 39 es­sen­tial gratis apps

Maximum PC - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Alex Cox

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.

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