Software I use on Windows Machines

I’ve actually met people who love Windows. They are invariably in their early 20s, too young to remember the absolutely terrible programs Microsoft sold in the 1990s. Forget about BoB for a second. Windows 3.11 in particular was a terrible program. I had a job during college supporting a medical company which had probably 150 – 200 remote locations across the US. These machines were 486 DX or maybe Pentium with 8 to 16 MB of RAM. I remember virtual memory issues with these things, memory leaks *in the operating system*, tons of fun for a technician to debug remotely with computer illiterate users. Now Windows OSes are very reliable.

Anyway, I recently upgraded my PC to an i7 and I compiled a standard list of programs I use on Windows. I would be glad if this is helpful to you, but I wrote this mainly for myself, to document the programs I use, and where to find them, or if I have a senior moment and can’t thing of a piece of software I’m recommending to someone.

“Free”/Open Source

  • ImageAnalyzer – good free image tool. Can do fourier transforms, deconvolution, that sort of thing. 32-bit only, so blows up on big pictures
  • IrfanView – standard image viewing program.  Used it for years
  • LibreOffice – office suite that’s almost as good as Microsoft Office.  There’s no Visio, and Excel is better for hardcore financial operations, however except for Visio, it does 90% of what Office does.
  • Notepad++ – good free text editor.  It’s too difficult to use Emacs on Windows + in my old age, I like a GUI :). Notepad++ is very good at navigating a directory of VHDL or Verilog code.
  • Opera – Lana’s mom is the only person besides me who uses the Opera web browser, but I still like it.
  • PDF-XChange PDF Viewer – this is not just a PDF viewer, it’s also the best free PDF editor I’ve used.  It is better than Acrobat Standard except you can’t watermark things in the free version
  • Raw Therapee – currently evaluating this vs. Lightroom. Right now, I see them as complimentary, looking at taking files that were processed in Lightroom, and running them through Raw Therapee
  • Skype – video calling. also useful if you have to make calls to/from the US overseas to landline or cell phones, if you buy minutes from them. Another Microsoft product.
  • TrueCrypt – I have my boot drive secured with TrueCrypt, as well as some of my volumes. I also have all my personal financial files on an encrypted 2 gig image I back up to flash regularly. I did benchmarks, and with an i7, which has hardware acceleration for AES encryption/decryption, the performance penalty is slight
  • VideoLAN – video codecs and player far superior to what is supplied with Windows
  • For the propeller heads:

  • VMWare Player – I’ve looked at pretty much every virtual machine software, and except for Xen, I feel VMWare is really the only way to go. It’s far faster than QEMU which is admittedly an excellent general machine emulator. I used to buy VMWare Workstation, but the player has almost everything I need, and it’s free. I use VMWare to run FreeBSD and Linux.
  • Realterm – a terminal program. It’s hard to use, and the home page looks like it was designed in 1999 but this program is great to use to interface to strange equipment via the serial port. In addition, it allows you to interface to Matlab.

Not Free:

  • Adobe Lightroom 3 – good workflow tool for digital images.  Partially coded in Lua
  • DxO Optics Pro – Currently evaluating in my digital workflow
  • again, for the propeller heads:

  • Matlab– I know that CoreOptics used SciLab instead of Matlab for all of their system modelling, but I feel that Matlab is superior its graphics capability. One thing that annoys me is the fantasy pricing on this product.  Do people in countries like India and China pay the licensing fees you have to in the US?