Free Software for Windows
Here is a list of popular free software applications that run on
Microsoft Windows — along with the proprietary applications
they replace. If you are still a Windows user, you can take a first
step towards free software by installing these applications.
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When we say these application programs are free software, we're talking about
freedom, not price. It means that you are free to use these programs
constructively, either alone or in a community, while respecting the
freedom of others. The source code is available, so that you can
study the software, adapt it to your needs, fix bugs, and release
versions with new features. You can also convince or pay others to
do these things for you. You are also free to give away and free to
sell copies, under the terms of the applicable free software
license. These programs are free software because you have
freedom in using them. Free software develops under the control
of its users.
Microsoft Windows is a clear and instructive example of nonfree
software. Its source code is a secret, so programmers cannot learn
from it, fix it, adapt it to their clients (your) needs, or even
verify what it really does. If you share copies with your neighbors,
you will be called a "pirate", and users have been threatened with
imprisonment for this. Nonfree software is completely controlled by
its developer, who also has power over the users. We started the
free software movement because this power is
Using free software on Microsoft Windows (or any nonfree
operating system) is the first step towards freedom, but it does not
get you all the way there. You're still under Microsoft's power as
long as you use Windows.
So the next step is to replace Windows with
a free operating system such as GNU/Linux.
However, on this page we're concerned with the first step.
Replacement for: Maya, 3DSMax
Blender is the first and only fully integrated 3D
graphics creation suite allowing modeling, animation,
rendering, post-production, realtime interactive 3D and
game creation and playback with cross-platform
Replacement for: Microsoft Visio
Dia is designed to be much like the proprietary
Microsoft program 'Visio'. It can be used to draw many
different kinds of diagrams. It currently has special
objects to help draw entity relationship diagrams, UML
diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, and simple
circuits. It is also possible to add support for new
shapes by writing simple XML files, using a subset of SVG
to draw the shape.
It can load and save diagrams to a custom XML format
(gzipped by default, to save space), can export diagrams
to EPS or SVG formats and can print diagrams (including
ones that span multiple pages).
Replacement for: Trillian, AIM, MSN, Yahoo and ICQ chat clients
Pidgin (Gaim) is a multi-protocol instant messaging client,
with support for:
- AIM (Oscar and TOC protocols),
- MSN Messenger,
- Gadu-Gadu, and
- Zephyr networks.
Pidgin also supports plugins, for additional
Replacement for: Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro
GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program.
It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert
quality photo retouching program, an online batch
processing system, a mass production image renderer, an
image format converter, etc.
GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to
be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just
Anyone who is familiar with the GNU/Linux operating
system has probably seen/used the GIMP at some stage. In
terms of compatibility, GIMP can open/manipulate the
PhotoShop PSD format and the Paint Shop Pro
Replacement for: Napster, etc.
GNUnet is a framework for secure peer-to-peer
networking that does not use any centralized or otherwise
trusted services. A first service implemented on top of
the networking layer allows anonymous
censorship-resistant file-sharing. GNUnet uses a simple,
excess-based economic model to allocate resources. Peers
in GNUnet monitor each others behavior with respect to
resource usage; peers that contribute to the network are
rewarded with better service.
Replacement for: Adobe Illustrator,
Macromedia Freehand, CorelDraw or Xara Xtreme
Inkscape is an vector graphics editor, with
capabilities similar to Illustrator, Freehand, CorelDraw,
or Xara Xtreme using the W3C standard Scalable Vector
Graphics (SVG) file format. Supported SVG features
include shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, alpha
blending, transforms, gradients, patterns, and
Inkscape also supports Creative Commons meta-data,
node editing, layers, complex path operations, bitmap
tracing, text-on-path, flowed text, direct XML editing,
and more. It imports formats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and
others and exports PNG as well as multiple vector-based
Replacement for: Microsoft Visual C++
MinGW (Minimalist GNU for Windows) provides many of
the GNU programming utilities on Windows. It includes the
GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), Binutils, GNU Debugger
(GDB), Make, and more.
Replacement for: Outlook, Outlook Express
Claws Mail is designed to be familiar to new users coming from other popular email clients, as well as experienced users.
Replacement for: Microsoft Office
LibreOffice is a multi-platform office productivity
suite compatible with all major file formats.
Replacement for: PageMaker, InDesign, QuarkXPress
Scribus is a desktop publishing application, like Adobe PageMaker
or Adobe InDesign from the proprietary software world. It is
free software, distributed under the terms of the Gnu
General Public License.
Scribus supports many major graphic formats including
most all of the standard ones used in DTP in addition to
SVG import and export.
Replacement for: Windows Media Player, PowerDVD
VLC (initially VideoLAN Client) is a highly portable
multimedia player for various audio and video formats
(MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, etc.) as well as
DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also
be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in
IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.
Replacement for: BitTorrent
Tribler is an application that enables its users to find,
enjoy and share video, audio, pictures, and other things.
Replacement for: Mozilla Firefox, Google
Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer
QupZilla is a cross-platform web browser with a unified RSS reader, history and bookmarks in a single window.
Why not recommend Firefox? As explained in our Free Software Definition, all
four freedoms must be available on both a commercial and non-commercial basis. Mozilla's trademark policy serves to limit
Freedom 2 to gratis distribution only, making the software nonfree.
This is a selection of the more common free software
applications available for the Microsoft Windows platform, and is
nothing like a comprehensive list.