I have decided to compile here a list of my favorite freeware/open source applications. For simplicity’s sake, I will limit the list to that software running on Windows since it remains the most prominent operating system.

You might be surprised to find there is a lot of freely available software that is as good, and sometime BETTER, than its commercial counterparts. No cost, no ads, no nagging (of course, consider donating to that software you find useful!). It’s a beautiful thing. Keep in mind, there are others out there; these just happen to be my favorites. I will likely revise this list in the future as I stumble upon new applications. Without further ado:

Office Suite: Open Office
Archive Utility: Zip Genius
Desktop Post-It Notes: AT Notes
Flow Charts: Dia
Media PC: Media Portal

Web Browser: Mozilla Firefox
Email Client: Mozilla Thunderbird
FTP Client: FileZilla (Firefox also has a very decent FTP extension)
SSH Client: Putty
Instant Messaging (ICQ, AOL, MSN, etc.): Gaim
Peer-to-Peer File Sharing: eMule
BitTorrent Client: Yet Another BitTorrent Client
Telephony (VoIP): Skype
Multi-Platform Desktop Control: Real VNC
Port Scanning: Nmap

Audio Editing: Audacity
Audio Encoding/CD-Ripping: Exact Audio Copy (EAC)
MP3 Stream Ripper: Stream Ripper
Video Encoding/Processing: Virtual Dub
Music/Video Player: Winamp
DVD Player: VideoLAN
Quicktime: Quicktime Alternative
RealPlayer: RealPlayer Alternative

Viewing/Converting Images: Irfanview
Image Editing: The Gimp
Image Viewing/Organizing: Picasa
PDF Viewer: Fox It PDF Reader
PDF Creator: PDF Creator
Web Authoring: Nvu
RGB Color Calculator/Matcher: Easy RGB

CD-DVD Software
Windows XP SlipStreaming Utility: Autostreamer
Display Audio CD Tracks as .wav Files in Explorer: CDFS.vxd
CD-R Identifier: CD Media Code Identifier
VideoCD: VCDgear
CD/DVD Burner: CD Burner XP
Video-DVD Ripping: DVD Decrypter
Video-DVD Copying: DVD Shrink
DVD-R Identifier: DVD Identifier
ISO Utility: ISO Buster
Virtual Drives: Daemon Tools

System Maintenance
Anti-Spyware: Microsoft AntiSpyware and Spybot
Anti-Virus: AVG Free Edition
File Backup Utility: SyncBack Freeware and Allway Sync
Hard Drive Imaging: SelfImage
Floppy Imaging: RawWrite
Hard Drive Fitness: IBM Hard Drive Fitness Test
Disk and Data Recovery: ResQPro
Restore Deleted Files: Restoration

Tweaking and Miscellany
System Information: Belarc Advisor and CPU-Z
Benchmarking, 3D Peformance: 3DMark
Benchmarking, Application Performance: PCMark
Benchmarking, Hard Drive: HD Tach
Hard Drive Temperature: Hard Drive Thermometer
Monitor and Control Motherboard: Motherboard Monitor
Memory Diagnostic: MemTest86
Boot Analyzer/Cleaner: BootVIS
Disk Wiper: Darik’s Boot and Nuke
Partition Manager: Ranish
Windows Process Management: Itt Bitty Process Manager
File Encryption: Cypherix
Tweak Windows XP: TweakUI
Find Out What Program is Locking a File: WhoLockMe?

For All Those Times You’re Using Your Computer Outside: Anti-Mosquito

And don’t forget the ultimate open source software: Linux and it’s myriad components. Feel like taking the plunge? I’d recommend Ubuntu. It’s a cinch to get up and running.