Replace Built-in MS XP Apps

The computing world should not run only on Microsoft. Besides, a lot of free, open-source, and high-quality software are available on the web that can replace the apps pre-installed with your MS XP OS.

I know a huge majority of PC users use the Microsoft OS in their systems and use commercial software*. I, for one, replaced my Xandros OS with MS XP cuz I can’t modify Xandros to my flavor that time. At least, I didn’t know how to. As for the apps, I’ll stick to the free ones. There are a lot of ’em out there. You just have to know where to look.

This is gonna be some sort of glimpse to my rig cuz I’ma be listing stuff I use in it.

This idea just got into my mind after a few things. I was actually really inspired by a few articles I found from the web. There was this article on the most essential software for your MS PC and another on the top open-source software; both came from the same site but I forgot the address. Mostly, I was inspired by Mozilla’s plug-in for Firefox 3.5. It says:

You’re not using VHS… Why use Internet Explorer?

Or something like it… So, in the spirit of SpreadFirefox and open-source, I’ma give this one…

This is so gonna have a lot of tags…

Let’s start! (Note: The links after each section are download pages or links.)

Web Browser

If you have an MS OS, by default, there will be an installation of Internet Explorer. IE sounds to me like so yesterday already; even though I know they’ve been updating. In comes Firefox. It isn’t really the first web browser beside IE that I got to know. I was first introduced to Opera. That was 2003, I think. Opera can be a good one. I learned about the tabs feature and immediately stopped using IE. Then, the internet cafe I frequent that time, actually, until now, found Firefox. I wouldn’t know why the owner went looking for alternative web browsers but it was good that I got introduced to a better one.

I can also love Google Chrome. I’ve got the chance to use it and I loved it. Yes, it loads pages faster than Firefox can but I’ve read that Firefox is still more secure so I’ll stick with the Fox. Besides, I can’t have another web browser as I have to save up as much space in my system as I can as I am using an EeePC 701.

| Mozilla Firefox | Google Chrome |

Mail Client

I don’t remember when was the first time I found out about Mozilla Thunderbird but I remember having an installer that I never used. There was no point in having a mail client when you do not have your own system. It’s rather pointless and unsecured. MS have Outlook Express and I never really cared to try it. When I got my rig, I didn’t really immediately get the Bird but lately I added one to my rig.

For most users, web-based mail is good enough but there is always gonna be some of us who will want more functionality. Thunderbird gives you that. Multi-account is one of those features that’s cool; you wouldn’t have the need to check ’em mail accounts one at a time.

| Mozilla Thunderbird |

Media Player

iTunes! Yes, iTunes ain’t open source but it is available for free – totally free. I didn’t bother searching for some other media players as iTunes works for me. I don’t find Windows Media Player good for me especially that I am stuck with whatever version this one is. I didn’t even bother clicking on it even just for once. Yes, they’ve updated and upgraded the player but I still ain’t lovin’ it. iTunes still looks better and works better for me. Plus, when it’s Apple, they think about style – I love that part. The super-awesome visualization that they installed in iTunes 8 is a bonus.

However, it ain’t gon be able to play every media there is. Even with AVI’s, you’ll need to download additional software. That’s when VideoLAN’s VLC media player comes in. As far as I’ve used it, I haven’t encountered a media file it can’t play. Just like the tag, “VLC: Plays it all!”

| Apple iTunes | VideoLAN VLC |

Office Suite

Before I post a blog, I encode it first in my rig. I used to have MS Office 2003 but then MS Office 2007 files ain’t totally compatible with MS Office 2003 unless you don’t miss the “Save As”. I can’t allow myself to upgrade to 2007 given the display of my rig. MS Office 2007 has a huge toolbar at the top and that won’t work for me.

It’s good that I got to remember the existence of At first I thought I’d have to adjust to the interface of OOo first but apparently, it ain’t that hard. For a former user of MS Office, OOo is not really hard. OOo 3 can recognize MS Office 2007 files so I ain’t gon have a problem with compatibility. I am using OOo for this article.

| |

Instant Messenger

I ain’t too certain what exactly MSN as I never really cared about it but I am thinkin’ it’s for instant messaging. Yahoo! Messenger works but it’ll only work for your Y! account and for one account at a time. I know a lot of us have more than one account and it’ll really be handy if we can add all those buddies and talk to buddies from different account at the same time. Multi-account comes in again.

I was introduced to Pidgin when I was in my Xandros. It might not have the Y! Chat rooms but the fact that you can use different accounts from different services at the same time Is awesome.

| Yahoo! Messenger | Pidgin |


MS Paint is practically useless for me. No layers, the text box is messed up, limited colors – very limited. Basically, you’ll immediately want to look for an image editor. Adobe Photoshop might come to your mind but I don’t plan to use it.

GIMP is the answer. GIMP may not have as much features as Photoshop but it works well enough for me. Oh, yeah, I get the part that says, MS Paint, the built-in one, is just too far away from GIMP. For those who want something really close to Photoshop, there’s GIMPshop. I never really got to use that one but, as far as I’ve read, GIMPshop is practically an open-source version of Adobe Photoshop.

| GIMP | GIMPshop |

System Tools


Well, Windows doesn’t really have a built-in anti-virus but this is like a must-have for all computers. I can only think of one thing for this one: ClamWin. Yes, scanning is slow but it is efficient. It’s like, it searches every nook and cranny of the file it is scanning. As long as I’ve been using it, it’s work well.

| ClamWin |


For the surface users, as I love to call them, this one ain’t important. As for me who kinda loves to have my fun with my system, it’s pretty important. Besides, I mostly do multi-tasking and defragmentation gives for speed.

Windows has a built-in defragmenter but it ain’t able to do its job well enough. My friend gave me Piriform’s Defraggler when I wasn’t able to use the built-in one due to a virus attack. It’s able to defragment files better and demands a lesser amount of free space to be able to do its job well. However, it used to just ask for 5% but the one I got asks for 10%. Anyway, that ain’t too big. The built-in one asks for 15%.

| Defraggler |

Disk Clean-up

The built-in cleaner will want itself to be used when you’re running out of disk space. More specifically, when you have less than 200Mb of disk space available. For someone like me who uses a lot of stuff and only has a 4G of memory available, this can happen a lot. However, the built-in one doesn’t really know how to look for temporary files and the such. Or so I think.

When I scan using CCleaner, it displays more files available for deletion. The registry cleaner is a bonus.

| CCleaner |


Dock System

Microsoft doesn’t seem to have thought of this but it is actually a good one. Most especially when you are someone like me who wants her desktop clean and wants more customization. Punklab’s Rocketdock does it well. With the community it’s got, I can’t think of a reason not to like this particular dock.

| Rocketdock |
If anyone can tell me how to completely remove IE, Outlook Express, and Windows Media Player from my system, please do so. I will totally appreciate it.
*When I say “commercial”, I mean those software which have no hint of being free. Not even free to download and use.

This was written with no intention of of making it sound like a professional article.

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