Although it’s too early to tell whether or not Windows 8 will be successful, millions of users around the world have already upgraded to the new operating system. And that means these people are searching for easy ways to enhance their OS.
Although Windows 8 is only days old, there are already plenty of free programs available that will enhance the Windows 8 experience. Here are our five favorite tools so far:
Windows 8 marks a dramatic shift away from the traditional Microsoft operating system. The new Metro UI/Modern UI/whatever Microsoft wants to call it today is controversial, to say the least. The colorful tiles look beautiful on touchscreen devices, but desktop uses are finding the change a bit jarring – especially since there is no Start button or menu bar.
But don’t worry! A return to classic Windows is just a few clicks away. Thanks to Classic Shell – which is so far the most popular free application for Windows 8 – users can restore access to the Start menu that we know and love from previous versions of Windows.
And one of the best things about the Classic Shell button is that you can switch to the new Windows interface with just a few clicks. Classic Shell also allows users to boot directly into the default desktop interface on startup, a change that many users are sure to appreciate.
If you want to protect your new Windows 8 computer from viruses and malware, then why not use the most popular free antivirus software in the world? AVG AntiVirus Free 2013 provides basic security for Windows 8 users. Running an antivirus scan once per week can prevent malware and viruses from building up and it will ensure Windows is running as fast as possible.
One of the biggest problems of upgrading to a new operating system is finding all of the necessary drivers for your hardware. Windows 8 is a vast improvement over previous versions of Windows when it comes to finding hardware drivers. However, it’s not 100% perfect.
Fortunately, free utilities like DriverMax will ensure that your operating system is safe and secure with all the necessary driver upgrades. DriverMax identifies the programs on your system and notifies users when a driver is up to date. From the in-program interface, users can also download drivers directly.
Unfortunately, DriverMax does require a user account upon signup, although this user account is free. Just unsubscribe from the email newsletters you will undoubtedly receive after downloading this tool.
The Windows Media Center in Windows 8 is not a popular feature. The interface is clunky and it refuses to play most types of videos due to ridiculous codec restrictions. Fortunately, some companies aren’t bound by United States law, and these companies choose to develop open-source media players that freely use any codecs available.
VLC Media Player is one such application. It should be one of the first programs you download on any computer. On Windows 8, VLC can play just about any type of media, including hundreds of different types of video and music files. If you’re having trouble getting Windows Media Player to recognize certain video formats, then VLC will alleviate your pain and suffering for free.
Don’t let the name fool you – the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool is for more than just Windows 7 users. If you recently purchased the digital copy of Windows 8, then this application is one of the easiest ways to install it.
The Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool will walk you through all of the steps involved with placing the Windows 8 .iso onto a USB stick and then installing it onto your computer. You can even ‘upgrade’ your operating system to maintain access to all of your programs and personal files. Windows will also update the drivers for you to ensure your system is working smoothly from day one.