10 open source applications for Windows

You don’t have to run Linux to use open source software. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of open source applications that you can run on your Windows machine right now. We look at some of the best of these.

1 – VLC

VLC is the Swiss Army Knife of multimedia. Listing the multimedia formats that VLC doesn’t support is easier than listing those that it does because VLC supports almost every single format available. VLC is more than a multimedia player; it also supports streaming and TV capture cards, can be used to stream video input over networks and converts and transcodes a broad range of formats. VLC is perfect for almost every single media situation.

2 – Gnumeric

Need a spreadsheet? Gnumeric is a dedicated spreadsheet application which can be used with various other applications as part of the Gnome office suite, or as a stand-alone application. Being a stand-alone application means Gnumeric is fast and lean, unlike many of the tools built into those full office suites. Gnumeric can open and work with most common spreadsheet formats and is a good starting point for someone who just needs occasional spreadsheet features.

3 – Abiword

Like Gnumeric, Abiword is part of the Gnome office suite but is also a stand-alone application. It is lightweight and fast and can open and work with most common word processing formats, including Word and OpenOffice formats. For most users Abiword is a perfect choice for occasional word processing.

4 – Thunderbird

Thunderbird is the Mozilla Foundation’s email client. It’s also one of the best email clients around. Thunderbird does everything you could want from an email client and is easily able to manage multiple accounts with separate identities for each. Because it runs on multiple platforms you can enjoy one consistent interface across Windows, Linux or Mac. Decent spam management and filters make email less of a pain to deal with.

5 – Audacity

Audacity is a top-notch piece of software for recording and editing audio. It can be used to do everything from recording live audio to converting audio formats, cutting, splicing and duplicating audio and exporting audio to multiple formats. Unless you’re a professional sound engineer, Audacity is about the best software you can get. Anything better than this costs a great deal of money.

6 – Inkscape

Inkscape is a vector graphics application, similar to Adobe’s Illustrator and Corel’s Draw. Far from being a poor relative to either of these applications, Inkscape is in many cases a better tool than either of them. It has excellent support for the SVG (scalable vector graphics) format so images translate well to other applications and its ease of use makes Inkscape a far easier tool to use than the likes of Illustrator.

7 – FreeMind

FreeMind is Java-based mind mapping software and is one of the standards when it comes to this type of software. Files can be exported in a range of formats including a range of web formats or as files suitable for other mind mapping software. Being Java-based, Freemind runs on most platforms so one set of files can be used across Windows, Mac or Linux.

8 – TurboCash

TurboCash is a well known South African-made accounting application. TurboCash is widely used in SA and in many countries around the world, and has a huge user base. TurboCash is perfect for the small and medium-sized business market.

9 – VirtualBox

If you’re a geek then you need to run more than one operating system. Maybe you just want to test something, or you’re developing a cross-platform application or you’re just having fun. Forget dual-booting – VirtualBox is the best virtualisation tool for running multiple operating systems alongside each other. Its powerful integration features mean that running a virtual operating system feels exactly the same as running your live one. A must have for any serious geek.

10 – Gimp

Although it is obvious, no list of open source software would be complete without Gimp. The Gimp is an image editing tool that looks and works like Photoshop but doesn’t cost a cent. If you’re a professional graphic artist you probably already use Photoshop, but for the rest of us Gimp does more than enough to meet our daily image editing needs. Which is not to say it is underpowered. It’s not. If you take the time to learn all of Gimp you could be producing professional-quality graphics in no time.

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10 open source applications for Windows