Must-Have Software for a New Windows PC - Technology Portal

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12/27/2013

Must-Have Software for a New Windows PC

Must-Have Software for a New Windows PC    Thousands of new Windows 8 PCs are set up in homes and offices each day. Each one should have these 13 programs installed.
You've pulled that shiny new laptop or desktop running Windows 8 out of the box. Now what?
Windows usually comes festooned with what we lovingly call "shovel-ware"—a load of extra software shoveled onto the drives either by the PC manufacturer to help you, or worse, paid-for-placement programs you'll never, ever use. The very first thing you should do is download and runThe PC Decrapifier or SlimComputer Free; they'll remove most of what you don't need.
Then, immediately install some antivirus software. You can see our recommendation in the list, but here's a hint: it rhymes with "Morton" and ends with "Antivirus."
Next install 12 more must-have products. We've covered the gamut in this list, including your new browser, modern communications, high-security tools, performance-enhancingutilities, entertainment necessities, an image editor, a tech-support helper, and of course, a full office suite to get you through the work day. Without a doubt, these are the products a new Windows system requires first and foremost. Even if you've become a fan of fancy Web apps that perform many of the same functions, you should install these right onto your hard (or solid-state) drive.
Some of these apps have Windows 8 equivalents. You'll find them in the Microsoft Store, which is itself an app on the Windows 8 startup screen. You can run some of these programs like Chrome, Evernote, and TeamViewer without entering the Windows 8 desktop, but for full functionality, get the desktop versions. (One item you won't find an equivalent for: Microsoft Office.)
Browser: Google Chromehttps://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/
The joke is that on a new Windows-based PC, the Internet Explorer browser gets used once: to download another browser. IE has been getting better and better, but for now we still recommend you grab Google Chrome. The current build is still our Editors' Choice for its speed and standards support. Chrome offers a Windows 8 mode to fit in with the Metro-style interface.
Browser: Google Chrome 
Research: Evernotehttps://evernote.com
If you need to store anything you see on your computer, you want Evernote. Some may argue whether you need the desktop Windows version since there's a Web interface, browser extensions, and mobile apps. But the desktop version gives you ultra-fast access, and the Windows 8-specific option—Evernote Touch (pictured)—is especially handy if you have a touch screen. You can upload 60MB of notes per month for free; an upgrade costs $5 a month.
Research: Evernote 
Office: Microsoft Office 365 Home Premiumhttps://office.microsoft.com/en-us/
There are certainly other office suites, some of which you don't even need to install if you have a browser, but none have the power and reach of Microsoft's Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote. All of the 2013 versions (plus the SkyDrive sync service) are included in your $99 per year subscription to Office 365, and you can install Office apps on up to five devices including Macs and smartphones. Office 365 programs get regular updates over the Internet; you'll never need to install a DVD. Subscriptions for software are becoming the norm and this one is a pretty sweet deal. 
Office: Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium 
Antivirus: Norton Antivirus (2014)http://us.norton.com/antivirus/
No one is foolish enough to run a Windows PC without an antivirus program installed, right? Of course not! Windows, the most-used operating system in the world, is also the most-attacked. Don't be vulnerable; install the most effective antivirus software you can from the get-go. That would be Norton Antivirus according to our tests. Your $50 investment will bring you huge peace of mind. The database of malware it protects against is based on millions of known programs, both bad and good. It's especially adept at blocking phishing sites. 
Antivirus: Norton Antivirus (2014) 
Utility: CCleanerhttp://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/
Sooner rather than later your Windows computer will be laden with all sorts of digital flotsam, from browser cookies and history to temp files, registry entries, and beyond. The best utility to clean that effluvia is Piriform's CCleaner. (The first "C" stands for, you guessed it, "crap.") Run this utility every once in a while and your system will reward you with snappier speed. 
Utility: CCleaner  
Image Editor: Paint.NEThttp://www.getpaint.net/
Everyone knows the power of Photoshop, but at $20 a month, it's not for everyone. The next best thing for quick and dirty image editing that doesn't require specialized tools is the amazing Paint.NET. It looks enough like Photoshop to keep experienced users happy, yet it's small, fast, and most importantly, free. It even supports its own plug-ins. You'll be thrilled by what it can do for images. 
Image Editor: Paint.NET 
Video Player: VLC media playerhttps://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html
Windows Media Player has been around for more than two decades and it can do a lot, but when it comes to playing video from a file or DVD, the open-source, small, multi-platform VLC Media Player reigns supreme, playing anything and everything. It won't help you build playlists or organize music, but when you want to play back some obscure video file, VLC has got you covered. 
Video Player: VLC media player 
Music: Spotifyhttps://www.spotify.com/us/download/windows/
This online streaming music service has a Web interface and plenty of online versions, but the slick desktop version is a free download that makes it that much easier to play just about any song or album you desire. There are also curated "radio" stations with unlimited skips. For a $9.99 monthly subscription fee you can ditch the intrusive audio advertising and take all your music on the go with the mobile app. 
Music: Spotify 
Communications: Skypehttp://www.skype.com/en/
Now owned by Microsoft, Skype has become synonymous with video chat since its debut a decade ago. But it's a lot more than that. A Skype account coupled with the desktop software gives you a full voice communication center, letting you call around the world cheaply (pricing varies) and receive calls from any phone. The Windows 8 app edition(pictured) is a little more limited, but still offers great call quality in a simple interface.
Communications: Skype  
Security: LastPasshttps://lastpass.com
For almost everything you do online, you need a password. The last thing you need is a weak password compromising your security. Then again—strong, complex passwords are awfully hard to remember. LastPass, a 5-star Editor's Choice utility, manages your passwords for you across all platforms, storing them securely in the cloud so you can access them anywhere.
Security: LastPass 
Sync: Google Drive for PChttps://tools.google.com/dlpage/drive
Google Drive has become many things. It's an online office suite, an online storage locker, and also a desktop sync tool. In this case, you want to install it because of that last role: it keeps your files in sync with the online office suite and all other computers you use, even making files easily accessible on your phone. Free space starts at 15GB shared across Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos. 
Sync: Google Drive for PC 
Games: Steamhttp://store.steampowered.com/
If you want the best in downloadable PC games, download and install Steam. It's more than just a digital distribution store; it's also a full community of your fellow PC gamers—all of whom have instant access to 2,000 titles, from action to massively multiplayer to sports and more. 
Games: Steam  
Remote Control: TeamViewerhttp://www.teamviewer.com
If there is even the faintest chance you'll need remote PC help—or you'll offer remote PC help to someone else—install TeamViewer. When another user also has it installed, a shared code can give either person the ability to view or control the other's desktop, perfect for tech support or collaboration. It even throws in video chatting so you can get to the heart of what's wrong. A Windows 8 version, TeamViewer Touch, is also available for free install. It works across platforms so you can control Macs, Linux, or even take control from iOS, Android, or Windows Phone 8.
Remote Control: TeamViewer  

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