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Windows XP and essential software

Gah, I find myself once again dipping a toe into the murky waters that make up the Windows(tm) experience.

I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate that I have not had to touch any MicroSoft crap for many years now… but I inherited an old Compaq desktop and my boss suggested we put XP on it so I could do the occasional web-form written by idiots that require MSIE as the only browser. It makes sense. I can also test websites I make for MSIE compatibility (since IE can’t handle CSS properly).

So I find myself setting up the whole uber-paranoid security software suite because Windows is so vulnerable… and I discover that my information is dated… I last dabbled in the Win 98/SE era. Yikes.

Update: I have a much newer page of XP information available here. The rest of this post is for posterity only…

Here is what I have so far:
Firefox (secure and CSS aware browsing)
Ad-Aware SE Personal 1.06 (generic spy-ware/mal-ware remover)
Spybot Search & Destroy (alternative spy-ware/mal-ware remover)
McAfee VirusScan (corporate license, thanks to the company I work for)
cygwin DLL (because I still type like a UNIX/Linux geek)
putty (because Windows Telnet/Terminal sucks enormously)
gvim70 (because vim is better than notepad)
Opera 9.1 (alternative fast browser for low memory Windows boxes)
VideoLAN 0.8.6 (best media player with no spyware in it at all)
Synergy 2 (lets me treat side by side desktops like a two headed machine, cut & paste and same mouse/keyboard shared over both monitors/machines)

It appears that ZoneAlarm is no longer essential because the built-in XP firewall is pretty good, but is that really true? I really liked ZoneAlarm’s program manager, which prevented bad Windows software from getting out to the network… not sure yet if XP firewall can do that.

XP has a built-in graphic file viewer, so IrFanView is not needed anymore.
XP has a built-in xntp network time protocol client, so Dimension 4 is not needed anymore.

SecureCRT and NetTerm are competitors with Putty – looks like they all work equally well.

What other suggestions do people have?

What makes your Windows XP box useful?

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