Video by Kenny S

We’ve noticed that people love free stuff (duh). And one of the things people like about iPhone and other smart phones is that a lot of the applications are free and there’s a central place to go get them. There’s an icon on the screen and pressing it takes you to the “app” store.

Video by Kenny S

There are places like that for Windows users too. If you go to, for example, there’s a list of several dozen apps and a “batch installer,” to help download them. A batch installer lets you click on a  bunch of apps you want and watch them install one after the other, in one fell swoop, as they say.

The app categories include web browsers, messaging, word processing, file sharing, media (for watching TV and listening to radio), image editing, etc.  Don’t bother installing the music service Spotify, though. It’s only available in a few European countries, but if it moves out to the rest of the world it is rumored to be a Pandora killer – Pandora being the most popular music service so far. (Update: you can get it in the U.S. now, at, but there’s a waiting list for the free version.)

The new web service is similar to Ninite.  It also has a batch installer and a lot of extra features. Start by downloading the free FreeApps utility on the site. Make sure you’re at the right web site. When we accidently typed in because we weren’t paying close attention, we got a warning notice from one of our protection programs. So make sure you go to

Once installed, the FreeApps utility checks your computer and points to programs that need updating. It found half a dozen on Joy’s computer. In some cases it needs to uninstall the old version first. Joy let it upgrade the Firefox browser, WinRAR (a compression program she likes), and Windows media player.

While it’s updating, you can click the “apps” tab and browse for free programs to install. All the programs come from trusted sources (FileHippo, for instance), the provider says, and new ones are tested every day. They list free anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, email and instant messaging, audio and video and graphics. Some of these have been written up in this column before.

FreeApps has a list of recommended new apps and these are updated every week.  NOTE: A few apps install a toolbar at the top of your browser’s screen and this slows down your web browsing. Unless you really like having the toolbar, you can remove it by pulling down one of your top menus, like “Tools.” The menu name may vary with different browsers but removing a toolbar is always an available option. Apps that automatically install toolbars are marked with an asterisk.

You can click the “uninstaller” tab in the FreeApps window to completely uninstall any program on your machine. Using this feature is a lot faster than going to Control Panel and choosing Add/Remove programs. Because with the FreeApps’ Uninstaller, you can check off multiple programs and they’ll all uninstall one after the other. (Windows ordinarily makes you wait until one program is uninstalled and then asks you to go over the list again to find another. It reloads the list each time, very slowly, which is a royal pain.)

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