Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Best Free Microsoft Downloads

 

I often like to share information on the best free/shareware on the web.  Today’s information is going to focus on some great freeware from Microsoft!  Can you believe that they actually give away software? 

This great information was located on this web site:  http://www.techsupportalert.com

When people talk about freeware, a lot of times they think about free alternatives to Microsoft products – free office suites, free operating systems, even free alternatives to products that are already included with Windows like Paint, Notepad and Internet Explorer.  However, Microsoft does provide a collection of free software that is definitely worth checking out.  This article is designed to provide an overview of the best free Microsoft programs.

Antivirus

  • Microsoft Security Essentials

    System Requirements: Windows XP and up

    Microsoft Security EssentialsThis may be the best free product ever from Microsoft.  MSE is a free anti-malware program with an interface ideal for average users, and effectiveness ideal for advanced users as well. Its interface is simple and unobtrusive, and when it detects threats, it displays messages that are meaningful and easy to understand. It is light on resources, receives regular updates, and has exceptional detection rates. You can perform scans on demand, but it also continuously guards your system with real-time protection. The recent release of version 2 adds more features, including a "Network Inspection System" and a heuristics engine for a more comprehensive set of protective measures. Another feature added in the new version is the ability to adjust the maximum CPU usage the scanner uses – this is particularly useful if the computer in question is underpowered and the scanner needs to use less resources. Overall, MSE is an excellent product that rivals even some commercial antivirus software.

****watch out for a VIRUS that is currently discising it’self to look like this sofwtare!****

from www.bleepingcomputer.com

Please follow our Removal Guide here Remove the Fake Microsoft Security Essentials Alert Trojan .
You will move to the Automated Removal Instructions (see our next blog)

MORE FREE MICOROSOFT SOFTWARE

System Analysis

  • Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer

    System Requirements: Windows 2000 and up

    This tool analyzes a computer and provides a summary of how secure or insecure it is. Some of the things it checks for are security updates that have not yet been installed, settings that are not recommended (such as weak passwords, disabled firewall, etc), running services that may not be necessary, network shares, and more. This program can be a valuable tool for IT professionals, but it can also help average users who want to make sure their computers are as secure as possible.

Parental Control

  • Windows Live Family Safety

    System Requirements: Windows Vista and up; Click here for the XP version

    Family Safety is a parental control program for filtering web content. It can also restrict email contacts. It has an activity log that allows you to see who tries to access which sites, and activity across multiple PCs with Family Safety installed can be collected in the same log.

Internet

Browser

  • Internet Explorer 9

    System Requirements: Windows Vista and up

    Internet Explorer 9Internet Explorer has long been troubled, unable to keep up with other browsers in several areas, particularly in speed, security, and support for newer web features. Internet Explorer 9 looks to change all that, boasting a wealth of improvements over IE8. It starts much faster, it loads web pages much faster, and it takes full advantage of hardware acceleration wherever possible. It includes a download manager (with pause/resume), and it has a startup manager for add-ons that lets you see which add-ons use the most resources and disable them if needed. The interface has been revamped and is simpler - the address bar now doubles as a search bar (like in Chrome), tabs are on the same row as the address bar by default (this can be changed), and the buttons have been shrunk and rearranged.  Also, its improved support for standards like CSS 3 and HTML 5 allow web designers to deliver a richer online experience to IE users. As for security, Microsoft has added protective measures against pop-ups, phishing sites, and suspicious downloads. A sandbox mode has also been added, which can help keep malware contained and prevent it from affecting your system. I can't say whether it will outdo Firefox or Chrome, but it definitely looks to redeem Internet Explorer as a viable browser.

File Hosting Service

  • Windows Live SkyDrive

    This one isn't really a download - SkyDrive is an online file hosting service provided to anyone with a Live account (registration is free). It offers an impressive 25GB of online storage for documents, pictures, website favorites, and other files, and you can share these with friends. It includes a search feature so you can find things quickly. Folders on SkyDrive can be added to the Live Mesh program for synchronization with folders on local machines. The one downside is a file size limit of 50MB, so if you're looking to store large files, you'll have to split them or use a different service. SkyDrive has also been merged with Office Web Apps, an online office suite that lets you create, upload and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents. These web apps include common office features and work really well; just bear in mind that they are essentially stripped-down versions of the Office programs and don't have all the features. SkyDrive is a great service overall and is a reason by itself to create a Live account. (Review)

File/Folder Synchronization

  • Windows Live Mesh

    System Requirements: Windows Vista and up

    Windows Live MeshMesh is a synchronization program that lets you synchronize files, folders, and settings for IE and Office between different machines over the Internet. You can also sync up to 5GB of files and folders onto your SkyDrive online storage. Additionally, if you log into your Live account, you can see a list of your computers that have Mesh installed, and you can remotely control any that are currently running Mesh (this feature must be manually enabled in Mesh, and Internet Explorer is required). In my experience, the remote control is not as fast or smooth as TeamViewer, but it does work well and is a nice feature to have bundled with the synchronization functionality.

Mail

  • Windows Live Mail

    System Requirements: Windows Vista and up; Click here for the XP version

    Mail is actually a decent program and is similar to Outlook. It supports multiple email accounts, RSS feeds and a calendar all combined in one attractive application.

Instant Messenger

  • Windows Live Messenger

    System Requirements: Windows Vista and up; Click here for the XP version

    Messenger has the standard features expected of an instant messenger client, but it also has integration support for social networks (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn) and a photo viewer for shared albums on SkyDrive and Facebook. Messenger Companion is an add-on that lets you share links to websites with friends, who in turn can share comments on these links.

Blogging Tools

  • Windows Live Writer

    System Requirements: Windows Vista and up; Click here for the XP version

    Writer provides an easy way to create and publish blog entries. It has the standard formatting features, and you can add links, pictures, videos, maps, and more. It integrates with many popular blog sites, including Blogger, WordPress, SharePoint, and several others.

System Tools

System Tools Suite

  • Sysinternals Suite

    System Requirements: Windows XP and up for all tools except RAMMap (Vista and up); some tools won't run on 64-bit systems

    This suite contains a long list of a variety of system utilities and troubleshooting tools, from system monitors to disk tools to maintenance. Two of them, Autoruns and Process Explorer, are listed below.

Startup Manager

  • Autoruns

    System Requirements: Windows XP and up

    AutorunsArguably the best tool of its kind, Autoruns gives you complete control over the things that run when you start Windows, including items in the Startup folder and items listed in the Registry. It can be useful for optimizing the speed of your system by letting you disable unnecessary programs, and it can also help combat certain types of malware that run when Windows starts. This is a must-have for any computer repair kit. (Review)

Process Viewer

  • Process Explorer

    System Requirements: Windows XP and up, including IA64

    Process ExplorerAn advanced process viewer. Process Explorer was once the best tool of its kind, but it is still useful for anyone who wants something better than Task Manager but doesn't need all the whistles and bells. It lists all running processes in a hierarchical format, you can restart, suspend or kill processes, you can kill process trees, and you can set process priorities. It also lets you view threads, strings, and other details about processes. It displays CPU and memory usage, and you can configure tray icons to show these as well. You can optionally configure it to replace Task Manager. (Review)

Autoplay Utility

  • Autoplay Repair Wizard

    System Requirements: Windows XP/2003 only

    This utility is used to fix invalid or broken autoplay settings for CD, USB or other drives.

Tweaking

  • Tweak UI

    System Requirements: Windows XP only

    One of the PowerToys for Windows XP, Tweak UI lets you change various settings to the appearance and behavior of the user interface. For most users, these settings would otherwise be unavailable for adjustment.

Multimedia

Animation

  • Microsoft GIF Animator

    System Requirements: Windows 95 and up

    Microsoft GIF AnimatorThis program is no longer supported by Microsoft or even hosted on their site, but it serves its purpose well as a simple GIF animation creator. You can create new frames from the clipboard or from files, you can set the duration of individual frames, you can configure looping and transparency, and a few other features. It isn't very fancy, but it does about everything you need if you create your frames in a separate program like Paint or Photoshop. (Review)

Image Tools

  • Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE)

    System Requirements: Windows XP and up

    Microsoft Image Composite EditorThis is a panorama stitcher – it takes a group of overlapping photos and uses them to form a panoramic image. When started writing this list, I had not previously used Microsoft ICE. I was eager to try it out since it has received so much praise. I took a few quick photos of my office with my cell phone and fed them to ICE, and I was amazed – they were stitched together nearly perfectly and the exposure was blended across the whole image.  ICE allows you to do some additional things, such as crop the panorama, change the panorama rotation, choose between planar, cylindrical or spherical projection, and save in several different formats, including JPEG, TIFF, BMP, PNG, HD Photo, and Silverlight Deep Zoom. You can also upload and share your panoramas on the Microsoft Photosynthwebsite, where others can view them interactively by rotating and zooming, even panoramas that are full 360 degrees (Microsoft SilverLight is required to use Photosynth). Needless to say, there are many awesome examples that show off the power of ICE on Photosynth, examples that weren't taken with cell phone cameras. (Review)

  • Image Resizer

    System Requirements: Windows XP only

    Image ResizerOne of the PowerToys for Windows XP, Image Resizer lets you quickly resize one or multiple images to fit within a certain length and width. You right-click on the file(s) and select "Resize pictures" to bring up a simple interface, where you can select one of four pre-set sizes, or specify your own. You can also choose whether to save over the original files or create new files.

Photo Organizer

  • Windows Live Photo Gallery

    System Requirements: Windows Vista and up; Click here for the XP version

    Photo Gallery lets you organize, tag, upload, and edit your photos, among other features. The editing features are no replacement for programs like Photoshop, but they are handy for quick and easy alterations. (Review)

Video Editor

  • Windows Live Movie Maker

    System Requirements: Windows Vista and up (XP users can find "Windows Movie Maker" in their Programs menu, but the features are not all the same)

    Windows Live Movie MakerMovie Maker doesn't boast a set of advanced features, but the features it includes are sufficient for many users and are ideal for putting together slide shows and short videos. Plus, you can use it to publish your videos on SkyDrive, Youtube, Facebook and Flickr.

Slideshow Software

  • Photo Story 3

    System Requirements: Windows XP and up

    Photo Story 3A very easy yet powerful program for creating slideshows. The program walks you through each step, providing a variety of different feataures along the way. You can add effects of every sort, from photo effects to transition effects to panning and zooming effects. You can add text to each picture, narration, and background music. Overall I think this program is outstanding, and I wish I had started using it years ago. Just be aware of two things: the only video format it can save is wmv, and WGA validation is required if you download from Microsoft. (Alternate download location | Review)

Educational

Mathematics

  • Microsoft Mathematics

    System Requirements: Windows XP and up; .NET Framework 3.5 SP1

    Microsoft MathematicsThis program is targeted primarily for the educational audience, but it can be useful for jobs that require math calculations. It packs in many features, including equation-solving, unit conversion, 2d and 3d graphing, algebra, trigonometry, and even calculus. It can display step-by-step instructions on how to solve a problem, which can be very helpful to students who are learning new math topics. You can also scribble things free-hand as input, and it does a fairly decent job at recognizing everything (although sometimes you may need to redraw some symbols). This program was originally not free, but Microsoft released the newest version as freeware on January 11, 2011. Microsoft also provides Microsoft Mathematics Add-In for Word and OneNote, which adds Microsoft Mathematics features to those programs.

Programming

  • Small Basic

    System Requirements: Windows XP and up; .NET Framework 3.5

    Small BasicSmall Basic provides a programming environment suitable for beginner programmers. It uses a simplified version of the BASIC programming language. Even though it's found in the "Kid's Corner", it can be an excellent learning tool for both kids and adults who are just getting into programming. It includes a PDF tutorial to get you acquainted with the program and walk you through programming concepts.

Miscellaneous

Virtualization

  • Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

    System Requirements: Windows XP and up

    Microsoft Virtual PC 2007A virtual machine is a simulated environment in which an operating system can run without actually being installed on real hardware. It can have several uses – some use it to test software without altering their system; others use it to run an older operating system compatible with older software. Several free options exist for creating and running virtual machines, and one of them is Microsoft Virtual PC. Linux and other non-Microsoft operating systems are not officially supported (although it is possible to get them to work), but it runs versions of Windows just fine. When you create a virtual machine for a specific operating system, Virtual PC will recommend certain settings (hard drive size, memory), but you can adjust these as desired. Once your guest OS is installed, you can install a set of tools called Virtual Machine Additions that make the virtual machine run more smoothly. It also adds support for seamlessly moving the mouse from the host OS to the guest, drag-and-drop files from the host to the guest, and setting up shared folders. One feature that's especially useful for testing purposes is undo disks, which gives you the option to run a virtual machine without altering the virtual hard drive. Other virtual machine programs can run a wider range of operating systems, but if you're virtualizing a Microsoft OS, Virtual PC is a solid solution. It hasn't disappointed me in the 4+ years I've used it.

  • Windows Virtual PC

    System Requirements: Windows 7 only

    Windows Virtual PC is the latest version of Virtual PC, exclusively for Windows 7. It only supports (officially) guest operating systems from XP SP3 and up. If you have Windows 7 Professional or higher, you can download and install XP Mode – this installs a pre-configured XP virtual machine and allows you to run applications in the virtual machine while making them appear to run on the host operating system.

Software Development

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express

    System Requirements: Windows XP SP3 and up

    This is a great free set of integrated development environments, essentially lightweight versions of the commercial Visual Studio programs. It consists of Visual Basic Express, Visual C# Express, Visual C++ Express, Visual Web Developer Express, and Windows Phone Developer Tools.  It also supports the newer .NET Framework 4. Registration is required within 30 days.

Again a very big thanks to http://www.techsupportalert.com for all the hard work of finding this information. 

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