Many Windows users find themselves attracted to the idea of open source software, but aren’t quite ready to go all the way and commit to Linux on the desktop.
However, they might be willing to make a smaller change, like replacing Internet Explorer with Firefox or switching from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.org.
With open-source newbies like these in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 100 Open-Source Apps for Windows.
For this list, we’ve focused on helpful tools for home or home business users, particularly apps that don’t require a lot of technical expertise to download and install.
You’ll find a few tried-and-true favorites from our Essential Windows Downloads list along with a lot of new finds that we haven’t featured before.
And if you’re a Linux or Mac user, you’ll be happy to know that many of these apps work on those operating systems as well.
Audacity lets you record and edit multi-track audio files. It’s not a professional-quality tool, but it does more than most home users will ever need, including recording up to 16 channels at once, converting among multiple audio file formats, and adding effects.
While still a work in progress, Songbird has been receiving rave reviews as an open-source alternative to iTunes.
It has tons of built-in features and services, including artist links, a music store, concert tickets, smart playlists, and much, much more.
Want to access your home iTunes library while you’re at work? Install pulpTunes and you can access your music from any Web-connected computer.
CoolPlayer is a self-described “blazing fast audio player” for Windows. It features a very simple interface and an 8-band equalizer.
Juice makes it easy to capture and listen to podcasts, any time, anywhere. It includes a directory of thousands of online podcasts, so it’s also easy to find the one you want.
Mixere lets you play and mix an unlimited number of audio tracks during a live performance.
Features include dynamic looping, auto-triggering of audio, fully automated sliders, gradual muting, and crossfading.
Designed for DJs performing live mixes, Mixxx replaces a traditional turntable and mixer setup. It supports mp3, ogg, wave, and flac playback.
This audio player includes a media manager that lets you choose whether to organize your music with tags or with a traditional file-folder tree structure. It supports mp3, wav, ogg, and other audio file formats.
Based on the FreeAmp source code, Zinf plays a wide variety of audio file types. It includes a music browser, theme support, and a download manager.
Mp3splt is an audio utility that does just one thing—it lets you cut mp3 and ogg files into smaller files and rename them. It’s especially useful if you need to split an entire album into individual tracks.
11. Nucleus CMS
It bills itself as a Content Management System, but in reality Nucleus is primarily a tool for setting up a blog and hosting it on your own server.
Features include a built-in commenting tool, URLs optimized for readers, and multi-lingual support.
The LifeType blogging platform supports multiple users and multiple blogs from a single installation.
It includes a WYSIWYG editor, integrated media management, a built-in spam filter, and podcasting support.
Recently updated, Firefox offers fast, safe browsing. It offers one-click bookmarking, a smart address bar, and it will remember your passwords for you.
Google’s browser aims to combine “a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier.”
Notable features include a combination Web address/search box, incognito mode, and a new tab page that includes screenshots of recently visited sites.
K-Meleon combines some of the best features of Firefox (tabbed browsing, speed, enhanced security) with some of the best features of Opera (mouse gestures).
It also gives you the option of using an Internet Explorer favorites list, an Opera hotlist, and/or a Firefox bookmarks list at the same time.
Downloaded more than 10 million times, Joomla is an incredibly popular content management system. Even if you have very little technical expertise, Joomla can help you keep track of all the pages on your Web site.
Drupal offers a similar, but slightly different feature set than Joomla. Key features include a unique collaborative book tool, role-based permissions, blogging, friendly URLs, and a very active community for support.
This Groupware/Content Management System supports wikis, forums, blogs, image feeds, newsfeeds, calendars, and much more. It’s won several awards and vast amounts of help are available on the Web site.
This app walks beginners through the process of creating a family Web site. It makes it easy to include a photo gallery, message board, calendar, address book, news, recipes, and more on a private site.
Do a lot of multi-tasking? WindowsPager lets you save multiple desktop setups and switch between them.
For example, you can save one desktop with budget software, online banking, and calculator windows open and switch to another desktop with e-mail and a word processor open.
With Launchy, you may never need your Start menu, desktop icons, or file manager again. Just start typing the name of a document or application, and Launchy will find it for you.
Do you like to leave yourself yellow sticky notes? PNotes gives you the ability to leave yourself virtual sticky notes on your desktop. Multiple skins are available, including transparent notes.
DocFetcher is an award-winning, very fast tool for finding search terms in the content of your documents.
It does not search photos, videos, music, or programs, but it does search written content in a wide variety of file formats.
This page layout program makes it easy to create professional-looking press-ready documents or PDF files.
Thanks to a very active user community, it comes with tons of support options, including wikis, live chat, a manual (for a fee), and more.
Boldly go anywhere in the galaxy without leaving your desk. Celestia provides an accurate view of the night sky from any date and time, as seen from any point in the known universe.
Another tool for astronomy buffs, Stellarium accurately depicts the night skies from any point on earth. In fact, it’s so accurate that it’s even used by several planetariums.
Like many other typing tutorials, Klavaro takes you through a series of exercises designed to improve your speed and accuracy as a typist.
The key features that set this app apart from others are multi-language support and the ability to use several different keyboard layouts or even create your own.
28. Tux Paint
Designed for kids 12 and under, Tux Paint is an award-winning drawing program that features an easy-to-understand interface, silly sound effects, and hundreds of pre-loaded images and “rubber stamps.” And Tux the Linux penguin provides help as needed.
StarDict makes it easy to access multiple dictionaries and translation services. You can choose to download one or more of the free dictionaries to your hard drive or access the dictionaries online.
The latest incarnation of this popular e-mail client lets you tag messages (“To Do,” “Done,” “Later,” Etc.) and includes improved search capabilities.
You can even save your searches so you don’t have to retype if you find yourself searching for the same e-mail message over and over.
This Java-based e-mail client features an interface that should be very easy to use for anyone familiar with Outlook or Outlook Express. It includes a calendar and internationalization features.
Need to send or receive large files that won’t go through as e-mail attachments? FileZilla server makes it easy to set up your own FTP, FTPS, or SFTP server, and FileZilla client lets you download files from someone else’s site.
More than 28 million people have downloaded WinSCP, and it’s won a whole host of awards.
In addition to providing a free FTP, SFTP, and SCP client for Windows, WinSCP also offers some basic file management capabilities.
Billing itself as “personal budget software for the rest of us,” Buddi is a basic budgeting program without all the bells and whistles you find in Quicken or MS Money.
Because it’s aimed it people with little financial background, it’s extremely simple.
But a set of plugins lets you expand Buddi’s capabilities, including more elaborate reports, customizing the look and feel, and importing and exporting to other file formats.
Grisbi is also a fairly simple personal finance package. It includes a few more advanced features, including multiple currency management, multiple user management, fiscal year tracking, and more.
JStock makes it easy to track your investments in 23 different stock markets around the world.
It updates stock prices every 10 seconds and alerts you when a stock meets your buying or selling criteria.
37. Turbo CASH
Aimed at the small business/home business segment, Turbo CASH is an alternative to accounting packages like QuickBooks. Features include invoicing, stock control, and multi-company capabilities.
The latest version of this open-source Texas Hold ‘Em app lets you play against as many as 10 live or computer-generated players. It also now offers a more customizable interface with new card and table styles.
39. Battle For Wesnoth
Just can’t get enough elves and necromancers? Then you’ll probably like Battle for Wesnoth, a turn-based strategy game that lets you choose to play a campaign scenario or challenge friends in multiplayer mode.
It supports multiple languages, and recently released version 1.6.2 offers better graphics than previous versions.
Enigma is a tremendously addictive puzzle game where you try to find matching pairs of “oxyd” stones. With 1,000 levels, it will keep you entertained for a long, long, long time.
Nexuiz is an intense first-person shooter that you can play alone or online in a multi-player deathmatch.
The site has a video and plenty of screenshots so you can get a feel for the action before you decide if you’d like to download it.
If you enjoy the game Civilization, you might want to check out FreeCol. In this turn-based strategy game that loosely mirrors the history of America, you begin with a few colonists adrift at sea and try to find new land and develop and independent nation.
43. Ultrastar Deluxe
Think you belong on American Idol? Find out with Ultrastar Deluxe. You and up to six friends sing along karaoke-style as the music plays and you score points based on your pitch and rhythm. Note that you will need at least one microphone to play.
As you might expect, this 3D racing game features Tux, the Linux penguin. While the graphics aren’t nearly as impressive as what you’d find on a commercial racing game, SuperTuxKart still manages to be fun and is very easy to play.
The objective on this turn-based game is simple: Kill the zombies before they kill you. Choose the level of blood and guts involved with the gore settings.
Similar to Photoshop, Gimp allows users to edit photos and other images. Features include layers, gradients, photo enhancement, color manipulation, digital retouching, and much more.
Inkscape lets you create vector drawings, like you would with commercial programs such as Illustrator and CorelDraw.
You can use it to design your own logo, create diagrams, draw maps, and much more. The latest release no longer supports Windows 98, but it does work with newer versions of Windows.
Want to create your own 3D animated movie? Blender lets you build models, render, and animate them just like the pros.
Designed as an open-source alternative to Visio, Dia lets you create flowcharts and other diagrams using pre-defined shapes or ones that you draw yourself.
When finished, you can export your creations to a number of file formats including eps, png, wmf, and others.
Used by millions, Pidgin lets you communicate with friends on 16 different IM networks, including AIM, GoogleTalk, MSN, Yahoo, and many others. It’s won numerous awards, and it supports dozens of languages.
This MSN Messenger clone includes offline messaging, voice clips, custom emoticons, and more. It also offers webcam support and works with multiple languages.
52. Miranda IM
This IM client’s claim to fame is its small file size, which also makes it fast. Miranda IM supports most common chat networks, including AIM, IRC, Jabber, MSN, Yahoo, and, many more.
Psi is an open-source IM client for the Jabber network, which includes GoogleTalk, LiveJournal, and a number of international networks. It’s completely customizable and supports about 20 different languages.
FreeMind mind-mapping software makes it easy to create a diagram or picture that shows how words or concepts are related.
It’s a great tool for brainstorming or problem-solving. Check out the screenshots on the Web site to get a better idea of how it works.
If you want to try out some Linux applications, but you aren’t quite ready to give up Windows, andLinux is for you.
It lets you run Ubuntu Linux from any Windows 2000 or later system. Note that you’ll need plenty of memory and free disk space in order to make it work.
Don’t want to take the time to download lots of individual open-source programs? OpenDisc combines a couple dozen of the most popular open-source apps for Windows (including many of those on our list) into a single download. For a fee, you can also receive OpenDisc on a disk.
57. Sweet Home 3D
Feeling inspired to redecorate? Sweet Home 3D lets you create a 2D floorplan and then see what it will look like in 3D.
Working on your family tree? PhpGedView makes it easy to collaborate online with the rest of your family to trace your genealogy.
59. XBMC Media Player
Winner of multiple awards, XBMC plays virtually any type of video, audio, or photo file, as well as organizing media files with its library management system.
The controls are intuitive and the overall look is very visually appealing. It also works on OS X and Linux, and even XBOX.
Need to convert an audio or video file to a different type of file format? MMConvert will do the job for you. Supported file types include asf, wmv, wma, avi, mp3, wav, mkv, mka, and ogg.
61. VLC Media Player
VLC Media Player works both as a multi-media player and a server for streaming audio or video. It supports most operating systems and most media file types.
62. Data Crow
Do you have a huge collection of books, music, movies, software, or anything else? Are friends always borrowing your stuff and conveniently “forgetting” to return it?
Data Crow makes it easy to set up a catalog of what you have and who borrowed it. It also connects to online services like Amazon.com and Imdb.com to provide information about your media collection.
MediaInfo finds tags and technical data for audio and video files, as well as some text files. It supplies the title, artist, director, number of tracks, and much, much more.
One of the most well-known open-source packages available, OpenOffice.org includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation creator, and database that are all fully compatible with their Microsoft counterparts.
In addition, this suite also includes a drawing tool and a mathematical equation creator.
PortableApps.com provides a suite of popular programs, including OpenOffice.org, Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin, and several others, that you can save to a USB thumb drive, portable hard drive, or even your iPod.
If you need to use a computer other than your own, just plug in your drive, and portable apps gives you access to all these programs, as well as remembering your settings, bookmarks, and e-mail accounts.
66. PDF Split And Merge
The name says it all—this tool lets you split existing PDFs into smaller files or merge pieces of existing files to create a single document. The enhanced version (available for a fee) adds encryption capabilities.
With PDFCreator you can make a PDF file out of nearly any Windows document. As a bonus, it also creates tiff, bmp, eps, and several other types of files as well.
68. Sumatra PDF
Think it takes too long to launch Adobe Acrobat Reader? Sumatra is a simpler, smaller program that also lets you view PDF files.
Now owned by Serena, OpenProj is a replacement for Microsoft Project that opens Project and Primavera files and includes very similar features.
It supports multiple languages and is used in more than 142 countries.
GanttProject lets you create Gantt charts, assign resources to a task, and track progress with a variety of reports.
For convenience, files can be imported from or exported to Microsoft Project.
Formerly known as GnomeSword, Xiphos is an open-source Bible study application. You can search text, consult commentaries, look up maps, and more.
BibleTime offers the same functionality and the same resources as Xiphos, but with a different interface. Try them both and see which you like better.
Noor doesn’t offer a lot of bells and whistles, but it does let you access the text of the Quran from your PC. It includes both the original Arabic and translations.
UltraVNC lets you display the screen of another computer on your screen.
Designed for help desk operations, it’s also great for accessing your home PC from work or for helping those relatives in other states who are always calling you for computer help. Features include text chat, file transfer, optional encryption, and more.
75. KeePass Password Safe
If you use the same password for all of your accounts, you’re asking for trouble.
KeePass makes it easy to assign different passwords to different accounts, and it remembers them for you, so you still only need to remember one master password.
76. Password Safe
Password Safe works much like KeepPass, but has a different look and feel. Try them both to see which you prefer.
77. ClamWin Free Antivirus
ClamWin adapts the award-winning ClamAV antivirus engine so that it can be used on Windows machines.
It’s very effective, but it does not automatically scan downloaded files. You’ll need to set up a scanning schedule or manually scan each file in order to be protected.
Designed for people with handicaps that make using the mouse and keyboard difficult, Simon lets you control your PC with your voice. The original program and Web site are in German, but English versions are available.
eSpeak reads the text on your screen aloud. It works with English and dozens of other languages, and lets you select among several different computerized voices.
If you use Windows Notepad on a regular basis, you might be interested in this replacement.
It adds a number of features that are particularly helpful when writing code, as well as features like zoom in and out, bookmarks, and macros, which are helping for general use as well.
jEdit has a number of special features for coders, but it can be used by anyone who needs a basic text editor.
One of its best features is that it remembers all the pieces of text you’ve cut and pasted and the pieces of text you’ve previously deleted. Plus, it’s java-based so it will work on any operating system.
Designed to be small and fast, AkelPad offers basic text editing with numerous plug-ins that add other features. Standard features include multi-window mode, file preview, multi-level undo, and more.
83. Task Coach
Unlike many to-do list programs, task coach makes it possible to deal with composite tasks; in other words, you can break a task down into smaller components and cross each component off as it is completed. You can also add attachments and track budgets or time spent on various tasks.
RedNotebook combines a calendar with text so that it can be used as a daily journal or a to-do list. You can also attach images and links, and you can export your data to html or plain text.
Whether you work as a consultant and need to track your hours or just want to make better use of your time, Rachota makes it easy to see how you spent your day.
Because it’s Java-based and portable, it’s ideal if you work at a client’s site: keep Rachota on a thumb drive and use it wherever you go.
Need to defrag your hard drive? Unlike the defragmenter tool that comes with Windows, UltraDefrag lets you defrag on startup for maximum speed.
Simply deleting a file doesn’t erase it completely from your computer’s hard drive—with the right tools anyone can access data that you thought you had deleted.
Eraser makes sure that can’t happen by overwriting deleted files several times with random data.
It’s a must-have tool if you’re donating a computer to charity and don’t want your personal information to be available to the next owner.
88. Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN)
While Eraser deletes single files, Darik’s Boot and Nuke completely erases your entire hard drive.
It’s not something you’ll need every day, but it’s handy for times when you are donating a computer or have a virus you just can get rid of any other way.
BleachBit cleans up your temporary files and erases your history to protect your privacy and free up disk space. It also includes a file shredder for further privacy protection.
Need to compress a file? 7-zip lets you create self-extracting .7z files that have an extremely high compression ratio. You can also use 7-zip to unpack most other compression formats or to create zip files.
This compression utility supports 87 different compression file formats, including the popular zip and 7-zip formats.
Plus, it supports encryption and has a portable version which can be used directly from a thumb drive.
92. Areca Backup
This java-based backup tool makes it easy to archive and recover your data, and it includes built-in compression and encryption. The interface is simple and makes it easy to navigate through your archived files.
This HD Video player works with most kinds of video files, including YouTube files, and it offers a library of 6,000 internet TV shows and video podcasts. And because it supports HD, it works well even on really big screens.
DVDx lets you back up DVDs or convert between a variety of video formats. (Note that it does not allow you to get around DRM features on protected DVDs.)
They just released version 2.20 earlier this month, and it fixes several bugs present in earlier builds.
Avidemux is a video editing tool that supports avi, DVD compatible mpeg files, mp4 and asf.
Despite its name, it doesn’t have nearly as many features as Avid, but is suitable for hobbyists and home users.
Experiencing problems playing AVI files? DivXRepair may be able to help.
Jahshaka is a real-time video editor that lets you add special effects, animation, music, and more. It also works well in multi-user, media-sharing environments.
Web Page Editors
Nvu (pronounced N-view) includes both a WYSIWYG page editor and an HTML editor, making it easy to design pages that look good and have fairly clean code.
The site has extensive help to walk newbies through the process of registering a domain name and finding a host for your site.
TinyMCE is an extremely lightweight, Java-based WYSIWYG Web page editor. The interface is very intuitive for anyone who’s used a word processor, and it can be used with a variety of content management systems.
Need to convert spreadsheets into Web pages? HTMLtools is a Java-based app that turns your spreadsheets into properly formatted HTML tables.