In Pictures: Your new PC needs these 22 free programs

More than a mere blank slate, a new PC is a fresh opportunity—a collection of components that, with the right software installed, could accomplish anything from balancing your household budget to helping to cure cancer. Yes, stocking your PC is an intensely personal task. Even still, some programs are so helpful, so handy, so useful across the board that we heartily recommend them to everybody. These are the programs you want to install on a new PC first.

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A Start-menu replacement (Windows 8 only) Keep right on scrolling if you’ve picked up a new Windows 7 PC, which still sports the Start menu you’ve known and loved for more than a decade. Computers rocking the Start-menu-free Windows 8 are far more common these days, however. Sure, you can tweak the live-tiled OS pretty extensively to get a near-optimal desktop experience, but if you want the classic Windows feel (or just want to skip the modern-style Start screen completely), you’ll need a Start-menu replacement.

My favorites are Classic Shell (free) and Stardock’s Start8 ($5), but every Start-menu replacement offers different capabilities. Our roundup of the best Start-menu replacements takes a deeper look at the premier options.

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In Pictures: Your new PC needs these 22 free programs

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