I am looking for others' list of program that absolutely must be installed to a fresh install of Windows before going any further. I hope to compile a list here to use as reference for all new Windows installs/restores. Automating this list of programs installation is the next step.

Some great lists so far! I will continue to monitor this and then make a list of everything I use. Another thought, has anyone come up with a way to automate this? Possibly going to each programs download page, downloading the most recent version, and installing? I may way on this as well, any ideas would be appreciated!

As far as the type of machine, most of mine are hybrids i.e- server, workstation, development machine. So all of the above!

  • This depends on your environment, hardware manufacturer, etc. Can you provide some more details, such as what type of computers (say servers vs. workstation), purpose of the system... Commented Apr 30, 2009 at 13:28
  • This is a poll and should be marked as Community Wiki Commented Apr 30, 2009 at 14:49

28 Answers 28


Basically, here is my software list (maybe not completly up to date) :


  • Pspad: A free and really powerful editor.
  • NVU: An HTML editor.
  • Kompozer: The NVU bug-fixes release.


  • Process Explorer: Replace the default windows task manager by Process Explorer!
  • Autoruns: Want to know what is launched when Windows starts? Try autoruns!
  • CubicExplorer: An alternative to the Windows Explorer, with bookmarks, tabs...
  • Supercopier: Replace the default copy tool of Windows.
  • Unlocker: A process is locking a resource on your disk? Use unlocker to solve this problem.
  • Console²: Change the DOS command for Console², with tabs, better UI...
  • Taskbar shuffle: Rearrange the programs on your Windows taskbar by dragging and dropping them.


  • Stroke It: Execute commands, start programs only with a mouse gesture! Magic!
  • 7-zip: A free file archiver.
  • Ditto: A copy-paster manager, to not be limited to one element in your clipboard.
  • Dirkey: Use Ctrl-0 to Ctrl-9 to access your preferred directories on your disks on Windows Explorer.
  • Print screen: A free tool to create screenshots, with a lot of options...
  • Launchy: Type Ctrl-Space, then write the first letters of the application, and it's launched!
  • Keybreeze: Almost the same thing as Launchy.
  • PDF Creator: To transform any document to the PDF format (a new printer is added in your configuration).


  • Tortoise CVS: A CVS extension for Windows Explorer.
  • Eclipse: Java development IDE.
  • Netbeans: Another Java development IDE, much better as Eclipse when you need to create Java application with Swing (this is my opinion ;o) ).


  • Foobar 2000: A powerful media player. But needs a lot of configuration...
  • XnView: A powerful image viewer. Also offers lot of conversion controls.


Firefox plugin

Edited to add links, as requested.

  • How about adding some links, to make this answer even more useful?
    – Sietse
    Commented May 8, 2009 at 8:32
  • Hurray, Finally in Ditto I seem to have found a replacement for my top utility of all time coodclip.
    – Toby Allen
    Commented May 11, 2009 at 8:24
  • I used taskix for taskbar shuffling; it's smaller.
    – Mikeage
    Commented May 11, 2009 at 12:14
  • +1 on sysinternals. I don't go anywhere without 'em!
    – Milner
    Commented Apr 30, 2009 at 20:30
  • you can always (if not firewalled ;-)) access sysinternals at \\live.sysinternals.com\tools Commented May 13, 2009 at 18:04
  • Yes! gVim FTW! +1
    – Jason Down
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 13:31

Don't forget an anti-virus (fox example Avast) and a PDF reader...

By the way, if you're only reading PDF, do not install Acrobat Reader but a lighter PDF reader like Foxit reader. You will gain a lot of time while opening PDF !

  • +1 for the Foxit reader reference... one of the first programs I install!
    – fretje
    Commented Jun 25, 2009 at 20:48

I would just add

  • Total Commander - excellent file manager, also works as ftp client and more
  • 1
    +1 Total Commander the very very first thing I install. Always.
    – Ates Goral
    Commented Apr 30, 2009 at 16:50
  • +1 Love TC. One of the first things I install also. I really like the FTP feature....but thats one of the many.
    – cop1152
    Commented Jun 3, 2009 at 19:28

In addition to some of those mentioned above: MagicDisk. It mounts ISO images in Windows so it isn't necessary to burn a bunch of CDs/DVDs. And it's freeware.

  • 1
    What are the advantages of this over Daemon Tools? I have been using DT for a long time, but I'm interested in MagicDisk. Commented May 7, 2009 at 15:24
  • +1 I have been using Daemon Tools until Wk8 R2 RC as that does not work on the win7 base. MagicDisk just works! Which it had integrated Explorer functionality for doubleclick->mount, but who can complain for a free Delphi program that works on the Win7 base!
    – Wayne
    Commented May 19, 2009 at 11:34
  • putty
  • winscp
  • SciTE
  • 7zip
  • Java
  • Python
  • JEdit
  • unxutils
  • vlc
  • firefox
  • OpenOffice
  • PasswordSafe
  • TrueCrypt
  • Based on some of your tools, why not cygwin? Takes care of what putty and unxutils usually handle. Commented Apr 30, 2009 at 13:29
  • I don't like cygwin. Its just a personal preference, I'm not anti cygwin. And I like putty more then doing ssh on the command line, if only because of sensible copy and paste.
    – Mauli
    Commented Apr 30, 2009 at 13:37
  • +1 for putty over cygwin. I know cygwin is great for some, its just a personal preference. I recommend using Putty Connection Manager in conjunction with Putty: puttycm.free.fr
    – Josh
    Commented Jun 4, 2009 at 0:46



Every computer:

  • latest video drivers
  • Symantec Endpoint 11 (antivirus)
  • Lavasoft Ad-Aware
  • Royale theme for WinXP (integrated in my install disc)
  • OpenType Font File Properties extension (Microsoft)
  • User Profile Hive Cleanup (Microsoft)
  • Windows Media Player 11
  • Microsoft Management Console 3.0
  • ThumbView Lite, PSP Thumbnail Handler, VTF Shell extensions
  • Matroska shell extension
  • Taskbar Shuffle
  • Visual Tasktips
  • IconViewer
  • Kel's Vista Drive Indicator
  • Windows Media Player Tag Support Extender
  • Combined Community Codec Pack
  • SHN Plugin (another codec)
  • DirectX 9.0 Web Setup
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • ODF Addin for MS Office
  • Psychedelia Visualizations Pack for Windows Media Player
  • Save as PDF and XPS for MS Office
  • Nero Burning Rom
  • O&O Defrag Professional 11
  • APC Powerchute Personal Edition
  • Quicktime
  • everything from Sysinternals
  • Daemon Tools
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro
  • Process Tamer
  • Paint.NET
  • Adobe SVG Viewer (until IE supports SVG natively)
  • Unlocker 1.8.7
  • WinRAR
  • WinSplit Revolution

My computer:

  • ClipX
  • FileZilla
  • Virtual PC 2007
  • Microsoft Pro Photo Tools
  • Firefox, Opera, and Safari (for cross-browser testing)
  • Windows Mobile emulator
  • Blackberry emulator
  • Dexpot 1.4
  • FeedReader
  • Google Earth
  • hextreme
  • icoFx
  • Notepad+
  • Oomph microformats plugin for Internet Explorer
  • Mozilla Prism
  • Spiceworks
  • uTorrent

There's probably more that I can't remember.

  • Yikes! Isn't that a little bit excessive for "every system"? For instance, I haven't seen a web app that uses SVG in at least 3+ years.
    – Portman
    Commented May 2, 2009 at 17:08
  • I have some of it included in my slipstreamed install disc. It's a lot of stuff, but most is fairly unobtrusive and nice to have just in case.
    – Scott
    Commented May 3, 2009 at 17:18

TreeSize Free.

Gotta have it. It keeps my disk usage in check.


I cant believe only two mentions of VLC. It plays anything you can throw at it!


Here's my list.


  • E-Texteditor - Light text editor with similar capabilities to textmate on the Mac. Great for fast editing. It's also opensource.
  • Netbeans - Great for debugging code, refactoring and general coding. I use this most of the time.
  • Adobe Fireworks - Good graphics editor. It's not too pricey, but comes with the essentials for web graphics. Photoshop is overboard here.
  • Charles Proxy - Allows me to debug web connections, simulate slower connections, dynamically rewrite cookies and lots of other cool stuff.
  • Putty - No description needed (SSH Client).
  • Virtualbox - Free virtualisation software (Thanks Sun / Oracle). Allows one to mimic your production environment on your desktop (Great for learning Linux too).
  • Win SCP - Open source freeware SFTP, FTP and SCP client for Windows.



  • Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Internet explorer all for testing my weblayouts.


  • Imgburn - The defacto standard for creating, burning and ripping image (ISO, etc ...) files.
  • CCleaner - Removes a lot of the junk programs leave around your computer. Reclaim GB's :)
  • Truecrypt - Keeps files very secure.
  • Adobe Reader - Esssential for reading PDF files.

Firefox + Extensions

  • XDebug Helper - Tool to start/stop debug and profiling with PHP's Xdebug...
  • XPath Checker - An interactive editor for XPath expressions.
  • Web Developer Toolbar - Adds a menu and a toolbar with various web developer tools.
  • Smush.it - Now included in YSlow 2
  • YSlow 2 - YSlow analyzes web pages and why they're slow based on Yahoo!'s rules for high performance web sites
  • AdBlock Plus - Ever been annoyed by all those ads and banners on the internet that often take longer to download than everything else on the page?
  • Firebug - Firebug integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page.
  • FireCookie - Firecookie is an extension for Firebug that makes possible to view and manage cookies in your browser
  • Live HTTP Headers - View HTTP headers of a page

Version Control

  • Tortoise SVN - Good SVN client for Windows. It's stable and works well.
  • Bazaar - Bazaar have a native client for Windows. Very easy to use, great alternative to git with it's horrible URLs.
  • Tortoise GIT - Not as stable as one hopes, but it's a good solid effort, should improve with time.


  • Digsby - Fantastic multi-IM client. Supports all the popular protocols. To avoid using the InstallQ variation, use the Digsby Offline Install (Link at bottom in small text).

Ps, that's about it. Hope someone found this useful.


Scott Hanselman's maintained "Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows" It was recently updated for 2009 and has many good tools and programs.


Another thought, has anyone come up with a way to automate this? Possibly going to each programs download page, downloading the most recent version, and installing?

Check out InstallPad.


Lately I've been installing inSSIDer virtually as a matter of course on any computer with a wireless card, to troubleshoot the inevitable connection problems.


This is a list for my computer, i recently blogged. It is divided in "misc dev tools", "specific dev tools", "communication/support" and "music/media"


I would first install Antivirus and update the definitions. Second, update Windows with all Security Patches before installing any other application.

The order may change but these are the first step on my every new Windows Installation. Applications can wait.. the first thing is Security and thats what matter the most.


AV and a decent web browser on every computer, all the rest depends on why it is being used for.

For home use: video player, music player and some office suite is usually all that is really needed.

  • Winsplit Revolution
  • UltraMon
  • Google Chrome
  • Dropbox
  • Python
  • Bazaar

This is probably worth a look:


Pre-packaged archives for Windows XP updates, Flash, Shockwave, PDF, Media Player, Quicktime and Real plugins and MS Office viewer and compatibility packs.


Programs I will install as the first, before going any further:

On any machine:

  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • MagicISO


  • Thunderbird

On a machine for developing:

  • Visual Studio 2008 Express or Professional
  • MSSQL Server 2005 Express or 2008 Developer Edition
  • Programmer's Notepad
  • Subversion
  • TortoiseSVN
  • AnkhSVN
  • VirtualPC
  • MikTeX


  • Microsoft Office + Visio

I've put my list of standard windows software on delicious. For Linux I've got it in the convenient form of a puppet module that configures a host as I want it.


Wow, only two mentions of anti-virus software.

I use avast or antivir, depending on the mood I am in. Lately I've been going with avast more often then not.

  • avast!
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Pidgin
  • Putty
  • notepad2

Those are my defaults, depending on what I do with the machine I will do more or less developer stuff.

  • avast!
  • Firefox
    • AdBlock Plus
    • ColorZilla
    • Fast Dial
    • Faviconize Tab
    • IE Tab
    • LastPass
    • Menu Editor
    • Tab Mix Plus
  • Notepad++
  • ATNotes
  • Timesnapper
  • Cropper
  • DisplayFusion
  • Filezilla
  • Unlocker

Infra Recorder - create/manipulate CD, DVD, ISO


Aside from pretty much all the above some, others i think are unique to my windows installs:

putty connection manager (multiple PuTTY instances w/ multiple windows) - http://puttycm.free.fr/

Growl (for windows)



ISO Recorder v 2

VMware Server


For workstations and laptops for teachers and students at my workplace:

  • Service Packs for the OS
  • MS Office 2007
  • MS Office Compatibility Packs
  • MS Office Get Started for Word, Excel, Powerpoint
  • VLC media player
  • Voxit Budgie Pro, Text-to-speech system
  • Skrivestøtte, aide for dyslectics and other challenged students
  • Infrarecorder, CD burning software
  • Adobe Reader 9 and all updates
  • Flash and updates
  • Touchlærer'n, touch typing training
  • Trend Micro Officescan, antivirus

I won't hand over a computer without these. All other programs are optional, depending of the intended use for the computer.

It really seems that all of you guys are sysadmins for other sysadmins or developers...

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