Software falls into a number of categories in terms of cost to the user. Some applications such as Office are made by software giants like Microsoft, who charge a significant sum for their programs. However for every proprietary piece of software, there is a program which does a similar job and which is either shareware or freeware.

Shareware is software which is freely distributed (and redistributable), but which should be paid for after a period of use (or a number of uses). Typically the software will stop working after a period or will pop up various nag screens, encouraging the user to register the software.

Freeware is software which is free for use and does not have to be paid for. Sometimes the software is an early version and is distributed for free for users to try out, while the developers improve its functionality. The software developers might achieve recompense through donations or though advertising built into the programs.

Note that all applications are designed for Microsoft Windows (Vista, XP, etc.). Check the manufacturer's website for versions designed for Mac, Linux, etc.

Freeware and shareware applications

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
Multi-award winning, basic anti-virus and anti-spyware protection for your home computer software. "With more than 2 million active users in Australia and over 80 million users worldwide, AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition is the best and most popular FREE protection currently available." This edition is FREE for home use only on a single PC. [website]

Firefox 3.0.1
Mozilla Firefox is thought by many to be vastly superior to Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser. As well as tabbed browsing (multiple websites, each with its own tab) and excellent security, Firefox has a whole host of useful plugins developed by a devoted following of fans. There's even a portable version for installation and running from a USB drive (Firefox Portable). See website for details. [screenshot] [download] [website]

Gimp for Windows
Popular open source raster graphics editor with much of the functionality of highly priced proprietary alternatives. Create and edit graphics and logos, resize and crop photos, alter colors, combine multiple images, remove unwanted image features and convert between different image formats. The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is often used as a free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop. [website]

Open Office
Sick of the constant Microsoft upgrade debauch or maybe you just don't see why you should pay such extortionate prices for the world's most-used office productivity suite. Have no fear because there is a free office suite called Open Office. It contains similar programs to the Microsoft version and you can still save word files as .doc or .rtf, which are readable by the rest of the world. The latest version weighs in at around a 130MB download. [website]

Open Office English/Australian Dictionary
Downloaded Open Office and can't do a spell check properly (F7)? You need the dictionary/spell checker plugin. After downloading the file, start Open Office and from the menu go to File | Wizards | Install new dictionaries and point it to the downloaded file. First, get it from the website.. [website]

Open Office Portable
Unable to install Open Office on a work/corporate workstation or maybe you just want to take it around with you? Open Office Portable installs on and runs from, your USB drive. It uses approximately 250MB of USB drive space and the download is approximately 85MB. Get it from those fine people at [website]

WinZip 7.0
Winzip is a shareware program which allows for groups of files to be melded into one single file (archiving). The resulting file, which usually ends in the .zip file extension is also smaller than it would have been (compression). Although Windows XP and Vista have basic native support for ZIP files, Winzip allows for more flexibility with managing the archiving process. [screenshot] [download] [website]

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