NOTICE: This is an archive of carefully hand selected FREE software for Windows. It does NOT contain any "demo" or "time limited" software, nor does it contain any Windows "try-before-you-buy" software (commonly referred to as "Shareware"). The reality of the world is that it's almost mandatory to own a 32-bit Windows computer, and Windows 2000 Pro sp4 has many advantages. You can change your hardware at any time, without having to ask permission from Microsoft. The OS, when stripped of its lame "bundled" apps (all their functions being better replaced by the FREE apps found here), can be stable enough to use as a Server. The user interface is very clean, having been optimized through thousands of hours of human movement studies (yet it can still be "personalized" to your liking).
During a Win2k installation, it is recommended that you choose to install only the absolute minimum of Windows Components. This is extremely important for OS stability. After install, go back and remove as many of the Windows Components that you can which were added by default (keep "Notepad", "Character Map", and "Internet Explorer"). For performance reasons, the "indexing service" in particular should be deactivated.
TIP: It is always a good idea to see the file extensions. By default, Windows 2000 hides the extensions. To make them visible; open "Windows Explorer" (NOT Internet Explorer), and open the pulldown menu: "Tools" - "Folder Options...". Next select the Tab "View". In the "Advanced settings" box under "Files and Folders" uncheck "Hide file extensions for known file types". Under the "Hidden files and folders", also choose the "Show hidden files and folders" radio button. Additionally, if you also want to see "*.shs" (Shell Scrap Object) file extensions, you must edit the Registry and delete the value: [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT - ShellScrap]"NeverShowExt".
- Why Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional?
Take an older PC Desktop or Laptop computer which you no longer use that you can boot from a CD, and insert a bootable DOS 6.22 CD that has Fdisk and Format. Boot DOS and run FDISK. Remove all partitions, then create an active primary partition of 2GB. Close FDISK (computer will reboot) and FORMAT this new partition as a bootable FAT drive C:, using the command "format /s".
Now replace the DOS CD with the Windows 2000 bootable Installation CD and reboot. Perform a new installation of Windows 2000. As you go through the installation you will be asked to add new partitions. Create a NTFS partition on the remaining portion of the hard drive, leaving the 2GB primary partition intact. This new NTFS partition will probably become drive E: (C: being the FAT partition, and D: the CDROM drive). Install Windows 2000 on this new drive E:. Now, when you start your computer, you will get a prompt asking if you want to boot into either Windows 2000 or DOS 6.22. Sweet!!!
Since Windows 2000 can access both the DOS and Win2k drives, you can now add files TO the DOS drive (from a DVD, Memory Stick, The Internet, etc.), or Print / Email / Backup / etc. files FROM the DOS drive, whenever you bootup Windows 2000.
Although targeted towards Win2k, software here should work properly on newer versions of 32-bit Windows. Any software flagged "Last Win2k version" will have newer versions available, but which use APIs that only work under Windows XP or above. Note that if you are having difficulty running applications from the Command Line, you may need to perform this fix.
Unfortunately, the installation utilities for Windows programs often include offers to install "extras", such as tool bars, that are really nothing but ad-ware. As it is only the main program that is of interest in the free software being offered here, when installing, be sure to uncheck from the task list and do not install ANY of these bundled "extras".
CAUTION: Be aware that Microsoft, in an attempt to force upgrades, made some arbitrary file name and placement changes in Windows XP and above. When Microsoft felt Win2k had reached the end of its profitability cycle, they also released interpreters (such as .NET 3.5) which intentionally refuse to recognize the older file locations and names, and will fail to install onto Win2k (we flag the last official Win2k compatible versions). Recently Java and Flash have also followed Microsoft's intentional Win2k obsolescence lead. Naturally, any software that relies upon these interpreters being installed, will fail as well. In almost all cases software vendors can write their programs to be compatible with Win2k Interpreters without loss of functionality, and users should encourage software venders to do so (please note that if your vendor uses Microsoft Visual Studio to create their software, that the newest versions have been subverted so they cannot generate a program that runs under Win2k or WinNT). In the interim, you could try to install the incompatible versions using an API Wrapper.
NOTICE: Concomitant with the release of Windows 8, with but a few minor exceptions, software manufacturers are no longer offering 32-bit Windows software that is actually compatible with Windows 2000. Even those programmers who assume their software is working with Win2k are not testing their software under Win2k, and I am finding that they are actually NOT compatible. Another difficulty is that software download sites are either not listing system requirements at all, or do not list operating systems older than Windows XP (even if the software is compatible with an older OS). Often your only option is to download the software and test it yourself under Windows 2000, and if it is commercial software, hope that the manufacturer will give you a refund when you discover it doesn't run.