Here are some links to good, free programs that you should download and use, rather than spending the cash on (frequently) inferior programs.
Mozilla Firefox – A superior web browser, with tabbed-browsing, pop-up blocker, and is safer than Internet Explorer.
Mozilla Thunderbird – An alternative to Outlook Express, complete with the ability to handle multiple accounts and read RSS newsfeeds.
Google Chrome – Another good web browser, which I have been using more recently. Updates itself automatically and works well with small computer screens (i.e. netbooks).
Pidgin – A good, multi-protocol (i.e. Yahoo, MSN, AIM, etc.), instant message client…even lets you do transparency-type pretty things in Windows… Formerly known as Gaim…
OpenOffice.org – Fully featured office software, including word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and database.
NeoOffice – The Mac version of OpenOffice.org.
The GIMP – A functional Adobe Photoshop alternative. It’s not as powerful as it’s multi-hundred dollar competitor, but if you want many of the important functions of Photoshop, including “Clone Tool” and layering, you should give this a shot.
VideoLAN – VLC is simply the best video player I’ve ever used. No matter what the codec you’re using, this media player is always able to play it.
Ad-Aware – Spyware-removal tool…works very, very well…but you have to keep it updated yourself.
SpyBot: S&D – Another good Spyware-removal tool that, again, you have to keep updated yourself.
AVG Antivirus – …just as it says… If you don’t want to spend the money renewing Norton or McAfee every year, download this.
Ubuntu Linux – If you’re feeling really daring and want to try using a Linux distribution rather than silly old Windoze, give Ubuntu a try. Installs easily, updates itself, etc…for free! You can now boot Ubuntu from a disc or from a USB flash drive on your system to try it out before installing, and you can install it alongside Windows if you want to dual-boot. Highly recommended for stability and ease-of-use.