Here is a short list of some really useful software (for Windows - I have used these under Win 98, NT, 2K, XP, Vista, Win7 and 8.1).
The Semware Editor (Who needs a word processor?)
(And to spell check your documents, try MicroSpell - there is no spellchecker nearly as efficient IMHO.)
TEX (Type processing the way it's meant to be. Word-processors are stupid and inefficient) [LaTeX is pretty cool.]
TeraTerm (A really smart ssh/telnet program.) PuTTY is also excellent
Opera (The fastest, best web browser available - beats Internet Explorer.)
If you're nostalgic for Netscape, give Mozilla or FireFox a try - or if Google's your friend, try Chrome.
For a really small (Windows only) browser, try Off-by-one.
MailWasher (A powerful email checker with effective spam elimination. The same folks also provide an excellent mail filter with their program Benign; it eliminates viruses, trojans, bugs, etc from your email before you read it.)
Core FTP (lite)
(A simple convenient way to ftp files.)
For command-line fans: NcFTP is unbeatable.
Leech FTP - no longer supported by its author, but still an excellent program. Another oldie: Free WS_FTP (the current version is no longer free, but this older version is.)
XNews (A free but excellent news reader.)
KeyText (Keyboard macro program to automate Windows tasks.)
Info-Zip (Zip and Unzip for all "platforms" - used so often you tend to forget you have it after a while!)
IrfanView32 (General purpose graphics utility - one of the best, and it's free.)
VLC (General media player - better than WiMP!)
Some older programs (I don't use them under later versions of Windows):
Proxomitron (Kill those annoying ads when you are browsing the web.)
Magellan Explorer (A file manager that illustrates what "My Computer" really should be!)
PaneKiller (A replacement for the Start menu on the Windows taskbar.)
World Time (Keep track of time in different time zones, alarms,
stopwatch, ... - if it is about time, this is your program.)
current "stable" version here!]
(If you want a "lighter" program that does less, but still gives you different timezones, try ClockRack from PCMag.)
Desktop Manager (Give yourself 4 or more desktops, each with its own display settings.)
DialUp Networking Monitor (See your dialup stats and monitor your connection.)
UCalc (A small scientific calculator and graph plotting program - fast and useful.)
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