Windows 10 has proved to be immensely popular (free upgrades certainly don't hurt), and with back to school time, there's a good chance you have a new computer running Microsoft's latest OS. You maybe you decided to go with a clean installation rather than an upgrade, or just haven't used your computer for much more than surfing the web and watching Netflix.
No matter the case, you need to remember that, despite Microsoft's push, there are plenty of apps that live outside of the Windows Store (we used to call these programs). Sure the Windows Store has a nice selection of apps, but let's not forget what made Windows so popular in the first place: a myriad variety of desktop applications.
Even though Microsoft is encouraging developers to create Windows apps, classic desktop applications are very much alive and are here to stay for the foreseeable future. So let's begin our tour of some awesome free desktop apps (in no particular order) for your Windows 10 device.
Developed by Piriform, CCleaner boasts over a billion downloads, and for good reason. This highly beloved classic is a must-have for easily cleaning your PC from digital junk, reclaiming storage space, and optimizing your PC's performance. Although there are professional versions available that offer more features, the free version of CCleaner works great and needs to be on your system.
Hands down one of the most powerful media players out there, VLC Media Player is completely free and open source thanks to VideoLAN, which originally started in France. VLC will play almost any media type out there, can handle media conversions, allows streaming, and that's just skimming the surface. Do yourself a favor and download VLC Media Player, then just sit back and enjoy the show.
Developed by Igor Pavlov in 1999, 7-Zip is a popular free and open source file-archiving utility. Use 7-Zip to quickly open up a variety of archives, like the popular RAR and ZIP formats, or use it to compress your own files. 7-Zip will cover most of your file archiving needs, hence it's a must-have.
HandBrake is a great tool for easily converting video into a huge assortment of different formats. Originally developed by Eric "titer" Petit, Handbrake is free and open source and has probably one of the most awesome app icons ever. Get HandBrake today and enjoy the freedom of playing your videos on whichever device you want.
Audacity is a solid free and open source digital audio recorder and editor. First created by Dominic Mazzoni and Roger Dannenberg in 1999, Audacity has helped millions of users to record audio, apply cool effects to it, and serve as a launchpad to the awesome world of digital audio. If you're interested in digital audio production but not ready to spend hundreds of dollars on software, this is a must-have app.
Mp3tag is an excellent tool to manage the metadata of your audio files. Developed by Florian Heidenreich, Mp3tag lives up to its name of universal tag editor, allowing users to do batch edits, modify cover art, obtain information from online stores like Amazon Music, and a lot more to help you organize your audio collection.
Foobar2000 was brought to life by Piotr Pawlowski and is an excellent free music player. Foobar2000 is powerful, gives the user tons of customization options, and runs very efficiently on the system.
Nitro Reader, developed by Nitro, is a top choice for a free PDF reader. Nitro Reader offers a modern design, allows users to view PDFs as well as create them, offers markup options, and more, all in a package that is light on the system.
Let's face it, the default text editor that has shipped with Windows for a long time, Notepad, is lacking in lots of areas, and this hasn't changed much in Windows 10. Luckily there is Notepad++, a free and superior text editor created by Don Ho that offers a much better experience. With useful features such as tabbed editing, document mapping, advanced search capabilities, auto completion, customizing the UI, support for different languages, and a list that goes on, Notepad++ belongs on your computer.
Paint.NET, originally created by Rick Brewster, is a popular free image and photo-editing software. Paint.NET offers users an intuitive interface and blazing fast performance. Furthermore, advanced photo-editing features like image layers, special effects, powerful enhancement tools, and more, all for free, make Paint.NET a clear choice for users to have.
Remember, there are a lot of free great software out there, so let us know what we missed in this roundup in the comments below.