I’m going to start off with some of the software I use which didn’t come with Vista and couldn’t live without, and get into details later. They’re mostly free and have lots of customizable options.

Entertainment

  • VLC - Free media player that supports lots of file formats.
  • DivX - Free media player supports some popular formats.
  • AndreaMosaic – Create your own photo mosaics for free.

Tools

  • WinRAR – Powerful compression (zipping) software.
  • TeamViewer - Free remote access to your desktop, desktop sharing and remote support.
  • Google Pack – Google photos screensaver, toolbar, chrome, spyware doctor and lots more.
  • Free Download Manager – Came across this as one of the award winners on Web User and love it. Install the lite version then pause, resume and control your download speeds. It even integrates into your browser right click context menus.

Security

  • AdAware Free – Great, free and popular anti-spyware.
  • Sandboxie – Great little program, once you figure out how to use it, you can use those dodgy virus/spyware files without worrying about them wreaking havoc on your pc, it essentially creates a sandbox where nothing gets saved onto your computer.
  • Spyware Doctor – Great alternative anti-spyware to adaware, can get it from Google pack too.
  • Norton Internet Security 2009 – Not free, but I used the free trials of Kaspersky, Trend, McAfee 2009 – and found Norton to be the most intuitive, unobtrusive and surprisingly fast this year. However, don’t buy direct from Symantec/Norton. Have a look at PC stores and Amazon first, they usually have better deals.

Internet Browsers
You may just stick to Internet Explorer that came with your computer, but you’ll be missing out on great features that enhance your web browsing experience. Various browsers support different features, and not all sites work properly on Internet Explorer.
Make sure you have the newest Internet Explorer installed, and its worth it to take 5 minutes to download and install these other browsers. I use four of them, they don’t take much memory if they’re installed and not being used.

  • Internet Explorer 8 – Newest version has lots of additional and customizable features. Its more secure, faster, has accelerators and useful options in the blank new tabs.
  • Google Chrome – Probably my favourite browser, because it seems to be the fastest, simple to use, and rarely crashes. Although it doesnt have all the features the other browsers have, but for most browsing its great.
  • Opera - This browser probably has the most options. I love the notes feature, highlight anything on a page, right click and copy to note, and it shows up in the notes tabs of the browser. You can also have it read web pages to you. Lots of great features too, refer the site for more information about them.
  • Firefox - Mozillas web browser. Its the most popular browser after internet explorer. Although I rarely use it, sometimes if you get errors on pages with IE, some videos won’t play for example, try them on Firefox and you’ll be surprised!
  • Others – theres lots of other browsers around, if you google internet browsers you’ll come across various others too – Safari from Apple for example.

Thats basically it – other than proprietary productivity programs… Check the above out when you have a chance, you’ll may be pleasantly surprised.