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ReactOS


ReactOS is a built-from-scratch operating system intended to be fully compatible with programs written for Windows.  While no where near ready for everyday use, it may, one day, prove to be a viable replacement for Windows.  It features a classic Win9x feel.



Graphics


Axialis IconWorkshop is an excellent Windows Icon creation program.  It is not freeware.  It runs about $70, but if you have a need or at least a strong desire to have professional icon software, this is the one to choose.

Comical is a freeware comic book reader for CBR and CBZ formats.

IrfanView is perhaps the single most versatile and useful image viewer ever.  Personally, I find it an indispensable tool for image related projects.

Microsoft Image Composer 1.0 originally shipped with Microsoft FrontPage 97.  MIC could perhaps be described as a less advanced, 90s version of Photoshop.  It has some short comings; like no PNG support and problems with dithering some colors, especially darker near-black colors.  However, there are some ways in which it is, in my experience, actually better than Photoshop.  I much prefer the way it handles rendering text as image elements (even if it can't be edited later).  And its ability to arrange image elements precisely with a few clicks is excellent.

Microsoft Image Composer 1.5 is a later, much altered version.  Sadly, it changes the way various tools work and effectively removes much of what was so great about version 1.0.  However, it does introduce one very important feature that was missing in 1.0 - support for opening and saving PNG files.  MIC always supported 32-bit graphics with alpha channel, but without the ability to export to a 32-bit format, its full potential could not be realized.  I recommend using 1.0 for editing and 1.5 for exporting.  I'm not sure where you can find 1.0, but 1.5 can be found via bit torrent.

Oddly enough, Paint -which comes with Windows-, is a very useful tool if used properly.  Unfortunately, the version that shipped with Windows XP was altered so that it would no longer ask if you want to resize the image when pasting something larger than your current image from the clipboard -it just does it automatically.  Which means that you can no longer use Paint as the perfect cropping tool.  The link above will allow you to download the Windows 98 version of Paint, which runs perfectly on XP.  I recommend placing it in Program Files\Accessories\ instead of replacing the XP .exe, that way you can have both versions.  The XP version has the same GUI, but also has support for GIFs, JPGs and PNGs.  Of course, starting with Vista the GUI is radically altered in a way I despise.  I don't know whether the older EXEs will run on newer Windows versions, but in case you want to find out, here is a copy of Paint XP.



Internet


eMule is the premier ed2k client for Windows.  I used it for years with excellent, if slow, results.  One thing about eMule, it keeps trying...  With most other file sharing software, if you don't get it quick, you probably won't get it at all.  I've seen eMule keep looking for elusive peers and eventually complete downloads - even if it took nearly 3 years!  Plus, you can find lots of things like individual songs, music videos, misc. sound clips and pictures that you just can't find anywhere else.  Unfortunately for me, something about how my internet connection works changed at some point and has apparently made it so that I can no longer connect to ed2k.

Microsoft FrontPage 97 was apparently intended as some sort of complete web site management tool.  I never got any use out of the management part, but the Editor was actually a pretty good WYSIWYG web page solution.  It was what I used before Nvu.  The software shows its age by not supporting PNG files, of course.  But, even after all these years, I still find it useful for some personal projects.  For one thing, the way it handles tables (and a few other things) is easier to deal with than the way Nvu does.  Sadly, later versions of FrontPage were unbearably awful.

NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) Mosaic is effectively the great grand daddy of all web browsers.  It had a wonderfully simple user interface, and I really enjoyed reading fanfic on it.  Sadly, development stopped many years ago and the last version released was barely able to run on Windows 98 without crashing.  Although, I don't know if that was the OS or the way the web was changing.  I don't know if any downloads are still available but you might find some by searching the web.



Media


Media Player Classic is a freeware media player for Windows which duplicates the 'classic' pre-XP look of Windows Media Player.  MPC also supports far more file types than WMP.  Development of MPC stopped in 2006, but there is an active fork; Media Player Classic - Home Cinema.  Be warned, however, that I have found MPC-HC to be less than stable on older XP systems.

Winamp is a popular media player for Windows.  While it may support fewer formats than other media players, it is better suited to playing multiple files in succession than most.



Utility


7-Zip is a freeware file compression program for Windows.  It features much better compression ratios than most.

Foxit Reader is a free PDF reader which is both faster and less annoying than Adobe's Acrobat.

RocketDock is a freeware application launcher for Windows which duplicates the look and some of the features of the Mac OS X dock.  However, unlike the OS X dock, RocketDock is fully customizable.  In addition to Icons and Skins, there are also Widgets available.



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