Here is a list of popular free software applications that run on Microsoft Windows — along with the proprietary applications they replace. If you are still a Windows user, you can take a first step towards free software by installing these applications.
When we say these application programs are free software, we're talking about freedom, not price. It means that you are free to use these programs constructively, either alone or in a community, while respecting the freedom of others. The source code is available, so that you can study the software, adapt it to your needs, fix bugs, and release versions with new features. You can also convince or pay others to do these things for you. You are also free to give away and free to sell copies, under the terms of the applicable free software license. These programs are free software because you have freedom in using them. Free software develops under the control of its users.
Microsoft Windows is a clear and instructive example of nonfree software. Its source code is a secret, so programmers cannot learn from it, fix it, adapt it to their clients (your) needs, or even verify what it really does. If you share copies with your neighbors, you will be called a “pirate”, and users have been threatened with imprisonment for this. Nonfree software is completely controlled by its developer, who also has power over the users. We started the free software movement because this power is unjust.
Using free software on Microsoft Windows (or any nonfree operating system) is the first step towards freedom, but it does not get you all the way there. You're still under Microsoft's power as long as you use Windows.
However, on this page we're concerned with the first step.
|Type||Free program||Replacement for|
|3D computer graphics software||Blender
|Autodesk Maya ("Maya")|
|Autodesk 3ds Max|
|Compiler||Mingw-w64||Microsoft Visual C++|
|Desktop publishing||Scribus||Adobe InDesign|
|Diagramming software||Dia||Microsoft Visio|
|Document viewer||Evince||Adobe Reader|
|Nitro PDF Reader|
|Email client, news aggregator||Claws Mail||Microsoft Outlook|
|Instant messaging client||Cryptocat
|Windows To Go|
|Media player||VLC media player (VLC)||PowerDVD|
|Windows Media Player|
|Numerical computing||GNU Octave
|Office suite||LibreOffice||Microsoft Office|
|Online storage||ownCloud (client)||Apple iCloud|
|Nextcloud (client only)|
|Raster graphics editor||GIMP
|Vector graphics editor||Inkscape
|Xara Photo & Graphic Designer|
|Web browser||Tor Browser||Chromium|
- This is a selection of the more common free software applications available for the Microsoft Windows platform, and is nothing like a comprehensive list. You may want to check the Runs-on/Windows category for more software. Windows-only programs may be listed here as well but has external links since the Directory only includes program entries for GNU systems.
- Included in the operating system and usually not possible to remove.
- Mozilla branded programs such as Firefox and Thunderbird are not free software unless their names are changed. This is due to Mozilla's trademark policy that forbids selling copies of unmodified executables.
- GNU IceCat (Mozilla Firefox ESR fork) dropped Windows support after version 38.8.0.
- Recommends nonfree software.
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