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6 Microsoft freebies I actually love to use

No, Windows won't ever compete with Linux on price. However, even though Microsoft isn't giving away their RTM operating systems for free, they do offer a lot of great software and services at no charge. Here are my six favorites -- feel free to share yours with us in the comments!

1. Windows Live Writer - If you don't blog, Live Writer probably isn't that useful to you. If you do, though, it's hard to find a Windows application that can compete with WLW. It's got loads of great features including plugin support so I can add things like Twitter integration.

2. SysInternals - There are so many useful apps under the SysInternals umbrella - Autoruns, Process Explorer, Desktops, RegMon - the list goes on and on. There's also to provide easy access to them all when I forget my usb flash drive. Awesome.

3. Windows Live Sync - At work and at home, I like to sync folders to my network attached storage to keep my data safe. Live Sync does a great job and the web interface is easy to use. I also use it as a DIY Weave for my Google Chrome profiles.

4. Skydrive - 25GB of free, online storage? Sounds good to me. No, I don't use SkyDrive to share anything I don't want Microsoft knowing about, but it's a handy place to stash things I need to download (or tell customers to download) frequently in one central location.

5. Security Essentials - The newest addition to my list. After about a week with SE, it's well suited to the way my wife and I use our computers. We're careful about where we browse and what we download (the first step in not getting infected), so I'm not looking for a full-blown internet security app. Coupled with Windows' built-in firewall, SE provides a good level of protection and doesn't hog my CPU or RAM. (linked to Softpedia, where you can still download the beta).

6. Windows 7 RC - Since I'll soon be supporting Microsoft's newest OS for retail customers and some of you seem to like reading about it as well, I've been running Windows 7 since last year. A free Windows OS until some time in 2010? Yeah, I'm alright with that.

Tags: free, freeware, list, live-sync, microsoft, security-essentials, skydrive, sysinternals, tools, utilities, windows