100 Open Source Downloads for Windows

A list of programs that points to the future of software. Included: browsers, calendars, graphics, games, office productivity, multimedia and more.
Posted December 23, 2007

Cynthia Harvey

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Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: open source software…for Windows? That’s like vanilla for people who adore chocolate, like red for someone who loves blue, like – well, you get the idea. It’s a bit of a strange mix, a true odd couple, a straight-up dirty martini.

But actually, not really. Open source developers have the freedom – in fact, enjoy the freedom – to develop for any OS, including Windows. Many of the downloads on this list are available for both Linux and Windows (and Mac, too, while we’re at it). The open source Firefox, for instance, is a model of cross-platform promiscuity, at home in the universe of Linus Torvalds, Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs. Pretty wild, when you think about it.

In fact, if you do some real deep thinking (and we recommend you do), you’ll realize this list is a signpost for the future. In the years ahead, the boundary that contained open source will continue to dissolve. As open source apps are increasingly used by Windows and Apple platforms, the concept of open source will keep on evolving from its niche status to a leading (dare we say, dominant?) concept. It’s been a long time a-comin’.

Here then, are the apps that are leading the charge. Browse the full list (it starts below) or jump right to a given area:

Animation / Audio

Calendar / Browsers / Content Managers / Developer Tools

Desktop / Email / File transfer

Games / Graphic-Photo Editors / Instant Messaging / Miscellaneous

Multimedia / Networking

Office Productivity / P2P clients / Photo Tools / RSS readers / Security

Utilities / Video tools

3D Animation

1. Blender
Blender provides a highly advanced set of tools for rigging, animating, shading, modeling, and rendering 3D animations. It’s so powerful that it’s even been used by animators working on blockbuster Hollywood films. Tons of help and support are available, and the user community is very active.

2. Art of Illusion
Another alternative for 3D animation is Art of Illusion. This Java-based program doesn’t offer nearly as many features as Blender, but has a simpler interface that may be easier for beginners to handle.

Audio Tools

3. Audacity
This cross-platform sound recorder and editor let you record up to 16 channels at once, import and export a variety of audio file formats, edit with unlimited undo, add special effects, and more. It’s available in more than 20 languages.

4. Juice
Juice receives and saves podcasts so that you can listen to them at your leisure. It supports most media players, and it’s been downloaded more than 2.5 million times.

5. Frinika
Frinika is a java-based music workstation that allows you to record and edit sound, add special effect, and mix in synthesizer sounds and drum beats. Unlike many other sound editors, Frinika lets you do everything from your existing PC without the need for extra hardware or equipment.

6. Aqualung
Aqualung plays audio CDs, internet radio streams, podcasts, and nearly every audio file format in use. It also offers the unique option of eliminating sound gaps between adjacent tracks.

7. DrumTrack
Turn your PC into a drum machine. DrumTrack allows you to create and record your own drum score, including incorporating samples from nearly any audio file type. One note of caution: this app is aimed at hobbyists, not professionals.

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