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Top 15 Essential Apps & Codecs post Windows 7 Install

So you've just installed the new Windows 7 Beta (build 7000). You've created your user profile, logged in for the first time and installed any missing drivers. What next?

Here's the list of apps and codecs I install within the first 30 minutes.

00. Windows Update - technically not an install but I run it first. Everytime.

01. Windows Live Essentials suite
- FREE
Includes Windows Live Messenger, Photo Gallery, Writer & Mail. Also includes Silverlight
02. Live Mesh - FREE
All my files are synced across my various machines with Live Mesh. I also take full advantage of the 5GB of cloud storage
03. WinRAR - Shareware (US$29)
My favorite compression and archiving tool. Supports basically any archive format you throw at it including ISO and Linux archives
04. AVG Free Anti-Virus - FREE
Light weight, free anti-virus protection. Does require updates to be manually installed though
05. Firefox (plus Flash & DownThemAll) - FREE
IE8 is my default browser however it is still in beta and there are a few web sites out there that render better in Firefox. DownThemAll is an amazing download utility that dramatically speeds up download times
06. VLC Media Player - FREE
Basically a Quicktime replacement as VLC can playback most *.MOV files
07. Xvid Codec - FREE
*Update* Windows Media Player 12 (found in the Windows 7 beta) natively supports Xvid, Divx and MP4 codecs however if (like me) you have a couple of videos in your collection that don't play correctly try installing the Xvid codec. 
For decoding Xvid, Divx and MP4 video files in Windows Media Player
08. AC3 Filter - FREE
*Update* As above - you may not need this codec but if you find you're not getting any sound when plating back a video file it might an AC3/DTS issue.
Audio filter that enables Windows Media Player to playback movies with AC3 and DTS audio tracks
09. ImgBurn - FREE
*Update* Windows 7 burns ISO images natively so this tool is mainly used for creating ISO images. 
Great CD/DVD burning and ISO creation utility
10. Easy CD-DA Extractor - 30 Day Free Trial (US$37)
*Update* I primarily use Easy CD-DA Extractor for converting from one file format to the other ie. lossless to MP3 and for the odd CD that WMP12 is unable to rip for me.
"The Swiss Army Knife of Digital Audio" pretty much sums up Easy CD-DA Extractor. I still buy physical CD's from real music stores,... how crazy is that!! Easy CD-DA Extractor allows me to back-up my discs and convert to MP3 for storage on my Windows Home Server
11. Paint.NET - FREE
*Update* The new Paint application in Windows 7 is a great update but if you need to work with some basic layers or some more advanced features then Paint.NET is a great tool.
Simple yet powerful free Photoshop alternative. Not quite as comprehensive as GIMP but does the basics and does them well
12. SharePod - FREE
iTunes alternative for transferring tracks on (and off) ipods
13. Skype (version 4.0 Beta 3) - FREE
I think we all know what Skype is
14. FileZilla - FREE
Light weight, free FTP Utility. Supports file resume
15. Microsoft Office 2007 - 60 Day Free Trial (from US$80)
Outlook, Word, Excel and Powerpoint are my essentials although Windows Live Mail is a great alternative if you don't need the complexity of Outlook

What have I missed? What other apps & codecs do you install during the first 30 minutes after an OS rebuild?

Check out Larry's Top 10 Fresh Machine Installs for more.

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Follow the Discussion

  • BasPBasP

    Why install the image burner and CD extractor? Doesn't Windows 7 burn ISO's natively? And why not use WMP to rip stuff from CD's?

  • BasPBasP

    Why install the image burner and CD extractor? Doesn't Windows 7 burn ISO's natively? And why not use WMP to rip stuff from CD's?

  • dhandhan

    You don't need XViD codec on Windows 7. It is included OOTB in WMP12. Probably same with AC3 as well.

  • dhandhan

    You don't need XViD codec on Windows 7. It is included OOTB in WMP12. Probably same with AC3 as well.

  • Brandon LeBlancBrandon LeBlanc

    Awesome list. For #9 you list ImgBurn - ImgBurn rocks. However Windows 7 now natively supports being able to burn ISO images to CD or DVD. You'll still need ImgBurn to create ISO images thought. Thought I'd share that little tip.

  • Brandon LeBlancBrandon LeBlanc

    Awesome list. For #9 you list ImgBurn - ImgBurn rocks. However Windows 7 now natively supports being able to burn ISO images to CD or DVD. You'll still need ImgBurn to create ISO images thought. Thought I'd share that little tip.

  • Nic Fillinghamnic Easily Distracted
    Great comments everyone! I'll update the post with a bit more information.

    @Brandon LeBlanc - Yep - should have pointed out ImgBurn is for primarily CREATING ISO's as Win 7 can natively burn them now which is awesome.

    @axelriet - Never heard of it but will give it a try Smiley

    @dhan & deathseeker - Yep you're both correct however I had a few videos in my collection that wouldn't play corrently until I installed the Xvid and AC3 codecs. Perhaps it's just an idiocyncracy of the Win 7 beta build or maybe I did something wrong.... The majority of people wont need to install the codecs though - I'll update the post with this info

    @BasP - Easy CD-DA Extractor is basically my backup for WMP or the tool I use when I want to convert from one format to another. I rip my CD's in lossless and then convert to MP3 (and other formats) for playback on my portable devices. 
  • Nic Fillinghamnic Easily Distracted

    Post updated with more clarification - I might need to re-work the ordering though,... hmm,...

    Thanks everyone for your comments - Keep em coming Smiley

  • kevo777kevo777

    Why tell people to install this codec or that codec? Every Windows user in the world need only install ffdshow and never think about it again. If for whatever reason you can't play nice with VLC then ffdshow is the way to go. Every codec under the sun is in there and it's lightweight and spyware/adware/nagware/crapware/shareware-free. And for HTPC setups, it even has a plethora of processing filters to make everything look as good as it can on an HDTV.

  • kevo777kevo777

    Why tell people to install this codec or that codec? Every Windows user in the world need only install ffdshow and never think about it again. If for whatever reason you can't play nice with VLC then ffdshow is the way to go. Every codec under the sun is in there and it's lightweight and spyware/adware/nagware/crapware/shareware-free. And for HTPC setups, it even has a plethora of processing filters to make everything look as good as it can on an HDTV.

  • Lloyd_HumphLloyd_Humph

    What about Foxit Reader?
    VPC08
    SwarmPlayer
    Steam
    TrueCrypt

    Just in general, I figure those are what lots of power-users would install.

  • Lloyd_HumphLloyd_Humph

    What about Foxit Reader?
    VPC08
    SwarmPlayer
    Steam
    TrueCrypt

    Just in general, I figure those are what lots of power-users would install.

  • quikboyquikboy

    5. Firefox..but not Opera? Aww. Opera isn't bad if you've tried it.

    WMP 12 doesn't play .MOV files? Strange. I thought WMP 11 already did this...

  • quikboyquikboy

    5. Firefox..but not Opera? Aww. Opera isn't bad if you've tried it.

    WMP 12 doesn't play .MOV files? Strange. I thought WMP 11 already did this...

  • Nic Fillinghamnic Easily Distracted
    @sn123 - free is always good Smiley but I've been using WinRAR for years and it

    @quikboy - WMP12 does play .MOV files natively but if (like I did) you run into a file that doesn't play properly,.. VLC is a good alternative. For vast majority of people wont need VLC or the Xvid or AC3 codecs as these formats are all supported in Windows 7
  • niconico

    i'd add Zune software and Greenspot (free screen capture utility)

  • niconico

    i'd add Zune software and Greenspot (free screen capture utility)

  • Nic Fillinghamnic Easily Distracted
    @nico I'm Zune-less at the moment so I left the Zune 3.0 software off the list however I think I'm going to have to do a 2.0 revision to this list pretty soon based on everyone's comments and Zune will probably be on there.

    @angrykeyboarder nice list - some apps on their I'm not familiar with; xnView, foobar2000,.. will check them out. I'm sticking to my guns with WinRAR though,... I'm a creature of habit Smiley

    @googleman - I'll be interviewing the Win 7 video codec dev team next week - should be an interesting piece; keep your eyes and ears on Channel 10
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