How to replace the crappy pre-installed software on your new Windows 7 PC with great free apps
If you took a look at display models in stores like Best Buy or Frye's, you no doubt noticed that new systems come with a lot of programs pre-installed. Lots of software is a good thing, right? Not always.
Trouble is, what you get is often a) not really useful software or b) a time-limited trial. Office 2007 and the antivirus protection the salesperson told you about? They're 60 day trials. After that, they're going to ask you to pay up...But you don't have to.
No, you can tell those apps to keep their hands off your credit card! With all the great, free software Download Squad has covered over the years, there's really no need to burden your new system with that kind of software timebomb.
With just two simple apps you can quickly strip away all the bloatware (that's what us techy types call the excess crud preinstalled on your new system) and get yourself a nice selection of totally free software that will never expire!
Step 1: Remove the preinstalled crap!
Techy types have a go-to program for this task. It's called PC Decrapifier. In case you couldn't tell from the name, it was created to handle exactly this kind of "software spring cleaning."
There are other great uninstall tools out there, but Decrapifier is specifically designed to strip away programs on new systems. It removes a whole slew of things you probably don't need - browser toolbars, ISP software, trials of things like Office, McAfee, and Norton, and more. You can see a full listing on the Decrapifier web site.
Decrapifier will detect different programs to remove on different brands of computers. HP, Acer, Toshiba, Dell, and all the other makers ship different preloaded software. Your screen will look different than the one I captured from an MSI laptop, but in general it's ok to let PC Decrapifier remove everything it finds. If you have a doubt, do a quick Google search on a program's name or ask a friend.
Don't be afraid to remove an antivirus program like Norton even though you recognize the name. After all, it's just a trial and in step two you'll be downloading a replacement that is a) just as good and b) totally free.
To get started, click here to download Decrapifier. Click run when prompted, then click yes to confirm the Windows 7 User account control prompt.
For a step-by-step look at what you're going to see, open the gallery below in a new window. It highlight five important screens in the decrapification process!
Earlier today I wrote about Ninite and said it's not all that useful for the average user. I noted an except, though, and this is the exception I was talking about.
Now that you have all the crud removed, let's get some awesome apps installed! Since you already have your browser open to read this post, open a new window or tab and head over to http://www.ninite.com.
- Web browsers: This may be the most personal choice. Firefox is by far the preferred browser of Download Squad readers, with Chrome second and Opera third. Safari on Windows isn't something our readers typically use.
- Messaging: Pidgin is an excellent instant messaging program, and it supports the networks you probably want to chat on - like AIM, MSN, and Yahoo. If you Skype with friends and family, be sure to check it off as well.
- Media: iTunes is a must for some users, so check it if you need it - though Songbird is certainly a good alternative if you don't need to sync an iPod Touch or iPhone. Plan on downloading videos/watching movies and TV shows on your PC? Grab VLC and Hulu (US only, of course).
- Imaging: built-in tools for organizing photos are already good in Windows 7. If you want an organizer with a bit more "oomph," add Google's Picasa. Want to do more advanced digital imaging work (like Photoshop)? Paint.NET and GIMP are good options.
- Documents: OpenOffice is the king of free office software and it makes an excellent replacement for the Office 2007 trial you removed.
- Antivirus: A critical component of your install - you need protection on your new system! I'm a big fan of Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows 7. Avast and AVG are also popular with our readers - with Avast having the edge.
- Runtimes: If you plan on playing games on sites like Zone and Games.com, you're going to need Flash (check both if you're also installing a web browser). You'll probably want to grab Java as well. Don't bother with .Net 3.5, it's already baked in to Windows 7.
- Filesharing: uTorrent is my choice (and the most popular torrent app on the planet). If you don't plan on downloading torrents (or don't know/care what they are), don't bother with it.
- Utilities: For user-friendly CD and DVD burning, CDBurnerXP is a winner. To keep your system running smoothly, CCleaner is a must-have.
Once you make all your selections, click the get installer button at the bottom of the page and save it when you're prompted to do so.
Windows 7 will now darken you screen and display a confirmation box in the middle. Click yes, and the Ninite installer will then appear and go to work.