The down side to buying a low-cost PC (See our: Ultimate guide to buying ultra low-cost PCs) is it’s likely to come with little more than an operating system. But don’t shell out for pricey software – here are some handy bits of freeware

Here at PC Advisor, we like a nice piece of free software as much as the next person. Faced with the pretty but blank canvas of our freshly installed copy of Windows Vista, the first thing we did was go online and hunt down copies of our favourite free software to see whether it would work with the new OS. And, more importantly, whether we could get by with freebies alone.

The answer: of course we could – at least as long as we weren’t expected to open Office 2007 documents or use the latest Adobe design software.

For general-purpose computing, email, web browsing and performing basic photo edits, as well as printing, music playback and playing simple games, the following applications more than did the business.

And since almost all these programs were originally designed for XP, you can be sure they’ll work with your new PC, regardless of the OS you end up with.

Quick links: Best free day-to-day software page 2 More best free day-to-day software, page 3 Best free web browsing and email software, page 4 Best free security software, page 5