50 Free Windows Software Alternatives

 Looking for free Windows software alternatives? Microsoft Windows bundles a number of software applications in order to provide a basic experience, such as Internet Explorer, Wordpad, and others. In this article, we wil be listing replacements for basic Windows software and utilities. If you have a suggestion, feel free to list it in the comments.

Micorsoft WindowsInternet Explorer

  • Google Chrome – The new Google superfast browser is lightweight and autoupdates. It integrates all your Google services and has  huge Chrome Apps store for a power packed browsing experience.
  • Mozilla Firefox – a fast, open source, secure, and extendable browser from Mozilla. Offers a number of features over Internet Explorer, including Smart Location Bar, Places Manager, and a rich database of extensions.
  • Opera – Feature-rich browser. Includes email client, BitTorrent downloads, Speed Dial (page with quick access to favorite websites), and mouse gestures.
  • Safari – Ported from Mac OSX, Apple brings Safari to Windows. Features private browsing and other enhancements.


  • OpenOffice – a Java based office suite with features that rival the commercial Microsoft Office, and is compatible with Microsofts own formats.
  • AbiWord – Word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. While it does not include all the applications of OpenOffice, it can serve as a replacement for Wordpad.


  • Notepad++ – a feature-rich text editor. Features syntax highlighting, function completion, tabs, and a plethora of other capabilities.
  • Notepad2 – While not as feature-rich as Notepad++, it offers a simple replacement for Notepad with syntax highlighting.


  • Power Calculator (XP only) – Microsoft offers a free more powerful alternative to the built in Calculator.

Command Prompt

  • CygWin – CygWin emulates the Linux shell for Windows, allowing you to work with a more powerful command line.

Built In Unzipping Utility

  • 7-Zip – Supports a number of formats, including RAR, ZIP, TAR, and 7z; can also generate a self extracting archive.
  • TUGZip – Supports a wide range of formats and can create a self extracting archive.

Windows Media Player

  • Winamp –  is a lightweight software and popular alternative to WMP.
  • foobar2000 – While only audio, supports a wide range of formats without plugins, and has low memory usage and is extremely customizable.
  • iTunes – Media player from Apple. Provides access to the iTunes Music Store (although not recommended as it bundles DRM with songs).
  • Songbird – In alpha stage, integrates well with music websites. Supports syncing to other devices.
  • VLC Media Player – Does not have a library feature, but plays almost any media format.
  • Miro – Video only, features RSS downloading, BitTorrent, and support for video websites such as YouTube.

Windows Media Center

  • XBMC for Windows – Supports a large number of formats and is skinnable.
  • Elisa – Provides support for a large number of media formats, external devices, auto detection of media on the network, and basic Internet integration.


  • GIMP – Advanced image editor with functionality similar to Adobe Photoshop.
  • Paint.NET – While not as advanced as GIMP, Paint.NET provides a large feature set, including support for layers and unlimited undo.

Windows Search

  • Google Desktop Search – Allows you to search the computer and Internet history in an interface similar to Google Web Search. Also provides a sidebar and quick launch utility.
  • Copernic Desktop Search – Provides an intuitive UI for searching and claims to be light on resources.

Add/Remove Programs

  • Revo Uninstaller – Powerful uninstaller that attempts to remove all traces of a program when uninstalling.

Disk Cleanup

  • CCleaner – Searches system for unneeded files and cleans them. Also has a registry cleaner, start up manager, and minimalistic Add/Remove Programs interface.

Remote Desktop

  • TightVNC – TightVNC sets up a server on the computer you want to control, and client software on the controlling computer. Offers a number of features over Remote Desktop.
  • UltraVNC – Like TightVNC, with support for a Java viewer, text chat, and encryption.
  • TeamViewer – Quick setup, with support for both Windows and Mac. Has file transfer; no firewall setting changes needed.

Windows Photo Gallery / Windows Picture and Fax Viewer

  • Windows Live Photo Gallery – Microsoft provides an enhanced version of Windows Photo Gallery free, as part of the Windows Live suite. Provides photo library tools.
  • IrfanView – Light image viewer with a wide range of features, including image manipulation and conversion.
  • XnView – Another light image viewer with a wide range of features. Image manipulation, conversion, and meta data editing are a few features.

Windows Movie Maker

  • Jahshaka – Offers much more functionality than Windows Movie Maker. Open source.
  • LiVES – Not available for Windows natively, but can boot from a Live CD. Has a greater feature set than Windows Movie Maker.

Windows Messenger

  • Windows Live Messenger – Offers more functionality (and bloat) than Windows Messenger. Supports only the MSN protocol, with some integration with Yahoo.
  • Pidgin – Supports a wide range of protocols, including Yahoo!, MSN, IRC, AIM, Google Talk, Jabber, and others. Extendable with plugins.
  • Digsby – Supports a wide range of protocols as Pidgin does, and also features integration with social media such as Facebook.
  • Miranda IM – Light messenger with support for a wide range of protocols. Highly extendable.
  • Yahoo! Messenger – Offers some integration with the MSN protocol. Mainly supports the Yahoo! protocol.

Windows Explorer

  • xplorer2 – Offers a wide range of features over Windows Explorer, including dual pane and tabbed browsing.
  • Free Commander – Offers tabbed browsing, dual pane, file wiping, and MD5 checksum abilities.

Windows Update

Windows Shell

  • Blackbox for Windows – An alternative light shell replacement for Windows, based off of the Blackbox Window Manager. Highly customizable.

Disk Defragmenter

  • JkDefragGUI – Is able to defrag when your screensaver comes on. Has other powerful features.

Outlook Express / Windows Mail

  • Mozilla Thunderbird – Email client from Mozilla. Extendable with plugins and themes.
  • Windows Live Mail – An improved version of Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail is part of the Windows Live suite.
  • Evolution – Originally for Linux, Evolution is now available for Windows, offering an Outlook-like GUI.
  • Mail functionality is also provided by SeaMonkey (formerly Mozilla) and Opera

Windows Firewall

  • Comodo Firewall Pro – Protects outbound connections as well as inbound connections, unlike Windows Firewall. Has database of safe software to prevent unnecessary warnings.
  • ZoneAlarm Free Firewall – Protects outbound/inbound connections, stealths your computer.

Sound Recorder

  • Audacity – Record, mix, and apply effects to sounds in this fully featured audio editor.

CD/DVD Burning Functionality

  • ImgBurn – Works with all types of media, able to create, build, and burn CD images.

Windows Sidebar

  • Google Desktop Sidebar – Google Desktop features a sidebar feature as part of the Google Desktop package.
  • Yahoo! Widgets – While not a sidebar, Yahoo! Widgets allows you to place widgets onto your desktop. Also features a widget dock where you can view your widgets at a quick glance.
  • Klipfolio – Place Klips around your desktop, with information from the web. Takes up less space than traditional widgets/gadgets.

Start Menu

    • Vista Start Menu – Larger start menu which allows you to find your applications more easily and quickly perform tasks.
    • Launchy – While technically not a menu, Launchy allows you to launch programs by typing a portion of the application name.
    • ViStart – For XP users, this replaces the current Start Menu with Vistas start menu, even containing search functionality.


  • Launchy – Launch programs by typing a portion of the application name – as opposed to typing the full application name or executable name.

This guest article is written Jason from ThirdError.com, where is writes about Windows (and applicable software), web applications, web design, and a bit of *nix (Ubuntu mainly).  


  1. Arun Basil Lal says:

    Well researched article. And nice formatting too.

  2. Rich says:

    FTP replacement tool: www.singlewrench.com

  3. benjamin says:

    This is a great list but I wouldn’t really call Cygwin an alternative of CMD or command.

    I do not like CMD and I use a free alternative called console. It supports copy/paste via the regular shortcut ^C and ^V, which is the prime reason I like it.

    For Linux commands, I use GNU Win32 but the response is slow.

    If somebody really needs to use Linux/Unix utils in Windows, I recommended andLinux.

    1) can run as a service in the backgroud
    2) I just open a console or ssh into it when I need it
    3) I prefer SSH session via putty since I can copy/paste with other apps
    4) can easily access Windows filesystem
    5) true Linux Console
    6) responses very fast
    7) its very light and you can still run Linux GUI apps

  4. daskos99 says:

    Many good programs, but applications that replace the start menu tend to cause crashes (excluding Launchy).

  5. Ibrahim Rabbani says:

    Excellent Collection of applications! Keep it coming guys!

  6. Syahid A. says:

    Cool and useful. Love those alternatives.

  7. Andrew Donnelly says:

    For the remote desktop category, you can also use the freeware program Mikogo, https://www.mikogo.com/
    Not only does Mikogo include free remote keyboard and mouse control, it is also a perfect online meeting tool as you can invite up to 10 people to view your screen.
    File transfer, application sharing, switch presenter, Skype Extra, configuration free, 256bit AES encryption, and more…

    Take a look at the website and feel free to contact me if you would like further detail.

    The Mikogo Team

  8. Scott says:

    How did you miss Windows PowerShell for a Windows Shell replacement?

  9. Danny says:

    A good remote desktop service which also can be used on a free trial basis is Techinline Remote Desktop (www.techinline.com). When it comes to their pay versions, it is probably the most reasonably priced tool on the market when comparing to the likes of LogMeIn, Webex, Citrix

  10. jeremy says:

    i want free genuine windows

  11. Angi says:

    I’m tempted by one of the new notepads, but I have OpenOffice and Paint.Net and I prefer WordPad and Paint, both of which my computer cannibalized and I’m trying to restore. I guess I’m just an old-fashioned computer-gal…..

  12. lakshan says:

    How did you miss PeaZIP

  13. GTA Info Tech says:

    Hello all,

    I was looking for a way to remotely access windows machines from a Linux based system. No luck here but I learned other things.


  14. Remote Control Software says:

    There is another useful program called Proxy Pro 6 for accessing your computer remotely. Take a look.

  15. Eri says:

    Windows Media Player Classic from K-Lite Mega Codec is best media player

  16. Dan says:

    no winamp? Far superior to all of those audio players.

  17. Archer says:

    You can now add Polyedit Lite as a very god alternative for Wordpad. It has so many features that many can find it a good replacement for even Word for simple applications.


  18. Kelsey C says:

    Another way to view your computer remotely would be with a non-free application like RHUB Web Conference …it has been really helpful for our team.

  19. sargarmi says:

    There is another useful program called Proxy Pro 6 for accessing your computer remotely. Take a look.

  20. Albert says:

    TurboSupport is an alternative to the paid versions of TeamViewer and LogMeIn. It costs just $19.95 per month. You may want to have a look at here

  21. Widgets says:

    And of course you can use Linux ;)

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