The top software picks for making Windows 10 workstations productive

What software do you need to install on a Windows 10 machine to create an incredible, full featured, desktop computer that allows you to do everything you want? Here's our top software picks.

What software programs and productivity suites make for the most productive, professional workstation? A properly configured desktop computer is the key to a productive home office. If you've bought a new desktop, or even if you've re-imaged an old machine, you'll want to ensure that all of the necessary programs are installed so when it comes time to perform common tasks like opening up a PDF file, or less-routine tasks like converting a audio file from an obscure format like Ogg into something more common like an mp3, the program you need will be a simple click away.

The following list is a collection of tools and utilities that, when installed on a Windows 10 machine, will create a desktop environment that is capable of doing just about everything you need a Windows machine to do. This is of course a foundation that will be useful to most desktop users. If you are a software developer, you will obviously need additional tools like an IDE and a performance monitoring suite installed as well, but once you are out of that developer mode, these tools will help you perform all of those other important tasks that are peripheral to the job of writing code.

Building a productive Windows workstation

So here it is, a comprehensive list of the software you need to download and install to create a home-office workstation that will make it possible for you to perform all of the important tasks you need to do in order to be productive:

  • 7-Zip as a compression utility that is capable of handling everything from tars to rars.
  • Apache OpenOffice, providing all of the spreadsheet, document editing and presentation creation tools an individual needs.
  • ClassicShell to bring back the feel of the Windows 98 Start button that everyone knows and loves.
  • iTunes if you own any Apple devices. QuickTime player is also a recommended media player, especially if you work with Apple file types.
  • Ashisoft Duplicate File Finder for helping you keep your documents organized.
  • Audacity for performing basic audio file editing and manipulation.
  • Camtasia for doing screencasts. Camtasia Studio also provides some basic, easy to use video editing features as well.
  • Dropbox for cloud based storage of important files.
  • DVD Video Soft Flip, a simple and free tool that allows you to rotate video files, something that is strangely difficult to do in this modern age, yet so ubiquitously necessary as nobody really knows which way to hold their mobile phone when shooting movies. Be careful with this installation, as it is Freeware, but they try to get you to install some supplemental programs that will just end up being bloatware on your machine.
  • Eraser for securely deleting files.
  • FormatFactory for changing video and audio files from one format to another.
  • FoxIt reader for PDF files.
  • GIMP for image file editing and manipulation.
  • The Java Development Toolkit (JDK)
  • KMPlayer as the default media player.
  • Kodi, formerly XBMC, for watching movies and TV online.
  • Malware Bytes as your defender against malware.
  • MediaHuman’s Youtube to MP3 downloader.
  • MPC-HC media player as a backup to KMPlayer.
  • Notepad++ for editing text based files.
  • Pamela, which requires a license, to record Skype calls.
  • PotPlayer as a backup to the MPC-HC Media Player.
  • Skype for making VOIP calls.
  • VeraCrypt for unlocking TrueCrypt drives and creating new encrypted volumes.
  • VirtualBox for running virtual machines.
  • VMWare Workstation Player as a compliment to VirtualBox.
  • WinMerge for comparing documents.
  • WinSCP for any time you need to tunnel into a remote server.
  • ZoneAlarm as your software based firewall.

With all of these programs installed, any end user will be well equipped to perform all of their day to day tasks. Obviously, there will be more specialized professions that will need software that is more specific to their particular occupation. For example, a graphics designer will likely need Photoshop installed, but this list is really intended to provide a baseline upon which to build.

So, what does your Windows or Linux image look like? What is the software you make sure you always install when you set up a new computer for yourself, for someone you know, or someone else on your team? Let us know what you think we missed.

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