Nice proggy ...

I have a long-standing tradition of using freeware application programs in place of commercial for-profit software. I do not consider adware, spyware, foistware or even shareware to be suitable for my purposes. I'm talking about programs that provide utility to the end user with no charge and no nasty surprises in the license or install. In general, I always look for a freeware alternative to a commercial program.

By and large, the programs listed here are Windows-specific. I'm aware of the divergence with respect to my statements above.

A quality zip program. Why pay for WinZip when there are countless free options?
In fact, why use a zip program with a GUI at all?
A thorough graphic viewing and conversion program. Free for non-commercial use ... but I don't mind that restriction.
Adobe Acrobat Reader
For viewing PDF files. Hey, I didn't say they would all be surprises.
Adobe SVG Viewer
Scalable Vector Graphics are way cool. Write some today.
Apple QuickTime
Almost a must-have, but it does have nag screens. Still, free.
Far and away my favorite HTML editor. I've been using it since before Chami was using build numbers. There's other good stuff on Chami's site, so check it out.
Development progress on this seems slower than a dead sloth. And yet they've produced a good browser, even if it is a bloated beast. Standards!
This is incorporated into HTML-Kit, but it's even more useful at the command line.
Also see the original homepage. I'm in the acknowledgements!
An SGML parser with XML support. Ideal for XHTML validation.
A telnet/ssh client. Top-notch; I use it all the time. Windows' built-in telnet client support is laughable.
KevTerm is a nice little telnet client. I like it because it's so small, and fits easily on a utilities floppy disk. For when it's not worth using PuTTY.
AntiVir Personal Edition
You *need* an anti-virus program if you are on the net. This one's free, so there's no excuse.
You can also check out AVG, which says it has an automatic update feature. I haven't tried it personally.
Sun Java 2 Platform
Why not get the SDK?
It's no longer being updated, but any competitor that I've found has not been free, including its successor. But you don't usually need more than the command line FTP client in Windows anyway.
Netcat for Windows
Too useful. If you're familiar with Unix "cat", this is about the same, but over a TCP or UDP connection ... fun! You might also want to check out the other stuff on the site.
Send to X
Offers a lot of flexibility in the Send To ... context menu for Windows. Unfortunately it's not for use with Windows 98 (and perhaps ME). I use it on Windows 2000 all the time.
Sam Spade for Windows
Built to fight spam, this includes a lot of broadly useful network tools (ping, whois, traceroute) behind a clever GUI. Did I mention it's scriptable?
(Also check out TightVNC.)
Remote control of a PC. Or an X-Windows session. Or a Mac. From another PC. Or X-Windows session. Or java-enabled web browser. Or ...
Valid XHTML 1.1! Zac Thompson, 2002