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microsoftlogoThe best things in life are free. How trite. I think the best things in life are free things that don’t suck from a company that gets picked on a lot. Don’t worry, I’m not standing up for Microsoft. They’ve got broad shoulders and can take care of themselves.

You should know, however, that Microsoft isn’t just about money. They do provide an awful lot of free software that is really cool! So I went digging on their site and sniffing around for some free Microsoft software and here are 3 cool programs I didn’t know Microsoft had.

Scalable Fabric

Don’t let the name fool you. It’s not a fabric of the cloth variety. What they’re talking about is a window management application. Essentially, it replaces the function of the minimize button on the top right of your window.

With Scalable Fabric installed, if you click on the minimize window, the window merely shrinks and moves to one side of your desktop. If you drag that window towards the center of the screen, the window gets bigger until it becomes full size. Vice-versa as well.

The program does make some annoying noises, but those can be shut off.  Really, it’s something you have to try to really understand. However, as always, here are some pictures!

free microsoft software

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scaleble fabric

free microsoft software

What this shows is how the large window scales down when moved to the periphery and scales up when moved to the center of the screen. You can also set the boundaries for where this scaling begins and ends. That’s what the blue square represents.

The usefulness of this is limited. However it meets a specific need by keeping your window’s content visible on your desktop. Yes, this feature is available in operating systems newer than XP, yet this is a nice add on for XP and earlier versions of Windows.

Microsoft Producer for PowerPoint

ms_producer

If this free Microsoft software was used on all PowerPoint presentations, we might not have the saying Death-By-PowerPoint. People would find it much easier to add audio and video to their PowerPoint through the time-line editing feature.

It works much like any basic movie editing software would, like Microsoft MovieMaker. So you can have music spanning several slides, and have a richer visual experience. This product is also ideal for creating stand-alone presentations that don’t require you to be there talking.

A person could create a kiosk-style presentation and leave it running on a computer or monitor for the public to see. That’s a good thing, because to get someone to develop a presentation in Flash or other methods is terribly expensive compared to doing it yourself in this freeware.

I could see this being ideal for a small-business owner or village, or any other organization with a limited budget. A presentation with this could really raise your profile.

Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2009

microsoft office accounting express

This free Microsoft software application is like a mini-version of Microsoft Money or Intuit’s Quicken for free! If you have XP or Vista, you can download this great free app to help you with your small business. It can integrate and share data with Microsoft Outlook, Access and Excel.

What I find really exciting is that I can use this with eBay and PayPal to list items I want to sell as well as create the invoices for the customers. Apparently you can process credit card payments too, but I didn’t venture into that feature. If you need to share your books frequently with your accountant, you can also do that through Office Live with this package. Incredible really, for free software.

Now, think about this. Microsoft, the world’s most successful IT company and creator of dozens of filthy rich people made and distributes this software for free. These programs can increase your productivity, market presence and profitability. Maybe they couldn’t make money off of Scalable Fabric, but certainly the other two could be sold for at least $40. No, Microsoft does give back. So, maybe I’ll back off on the trashing of Redmond’s finest – at least for a little while.

Do you use any other freeware from Microsoft? If you do, I’d love to hear which ones and what your opinions are on them. Drop me a line in the comments below!

  1. 1fastbullet
    January 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Yep, I need more crap cluttering up my desktop.

  2. Alan
    December 27, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Microsoft® Office Accounting is no longer be distributed after November 16, 2009.

  3. Steve
    November 5, 2009 at 7:24 am

    There is NO FREE MEAL (SOFTWARE) at least in this country....The U.S.

    Steve

  4. Barbara
    November 2, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    MS will no longer offer any of the actg software after Nov 16. I am just getting into it.

    • Guy McDowell
      November 2, 2009 at 9:40 pm

      That's a bummer.

  5. Kate
    October 25, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Don't forget about Office Live Workspace! You can access, edit, and share your files from any computer with an internet connection, and you get 5GB for free! There is even a plug-in for MS Office that lets you save your files to your online Workspace directly from whichever Office program you are using.
    Check it out at workspace.officelive.com.

    Cheers,
    Kate
    MSFT Office Live Outreach Team

  6. Albert
    October 25, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Don't forget about Microsoft's best kept secrets! The "Express" editions of their development tools. Visual Basic, C++, C#, Interdev, and SQL server. Just give them your e-mail address and their yours to play with! They are very nice tools.

    • Guy McDowell
      October 25, 2009 at 10:43 am

      The Express Editions absolutely rock! I prefer most of them to the full-blown versions - except SQL Server. That, I prefer the full application.

      • Riley
        November 29, 2009 at 6:53 pm

        I use VB alot. It rocks. Not much you can't do w/ it.

  7. bob ndud
    October 25, 2009 at 12:19 am

    fabric is a bit Mac-like...

  8. marko
    October 24, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    My favourite free MS product is Process Explorer, it's waaaay beter than Task Manager.

    @Stephen:
    Google for "windows royal noir". My XP is running that theme by following directions on ghacks.net/2008/09/09/royal-noir-theme-windows-xp/

  9. Stephen
    October 24, 2009 at 7:05 am

    I am curious as to the black taskbar shown in your screenshots. I've always read about a Windows XP theme called "noir" but have never been able to find a working copy. Any info on this would be much appreciated. Thanks!

    • Lex
      October 24, 2009 at 10:14 am

      probably it's the Windows Zune theme.
      i got one from here:
      http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=75078
      (first link from google search for Windows Zune theme)

    • Sotiris Z
      October 27, 2009 at 5:45 pm

      Personally i think it's this transformation pack: xpize.net/

  10. gadgetpure INFO
    October 24, 2009 at 2:53 am

    even it is free, but its quality that I like. Microsoft products.

  11. Zebra Rain Boots
    October 23, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Is this a wordpress or a typepad blog? The theme is real nice.

  12. Jamie Martin
    October 23, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    All of the Windows Live software is pretty slick, especially Windows Live Writer.

  13. TK
    October 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Micro$oft doesn't make "free software." They make proprietary software. End of story. They may make proprietary software that's available for free to be used on their proprietary platform, but that's not "free software." fsf.org

    • Guy McDowell
      October 23, 2009 at 7:49 pm

      If someone offers me a free beer, I don't demand they give me the recipe or it's not 'free'.

      • Albert
        October 25, 2009 at 12:41 am

        I agree! These "freedom crusaders" really give the free software movement a bad name. For many people, free as in cost, is as free as they need it to be. If I buy a cup of coffee and they offer me a "free" cookie with it, I'm not going to turn it down because it doesn't come with the recipe. You Stallman worshipers really need to come down to earth and understand how ordinary people live.

    • Scott Crawford
      October 23, 2009 at 9:58 pm

      Microsoft isn't in the business of giving everything away. They're in the business of making money. Without a profit, you're running a charity. I don't expect freebies from people trying to make a living for themselves.

      • Guy McDowell
        October 25, 2009 at 10:42 am

        I don't expect freebies either, but when I get one, especially a good one, it's well appreciated! Hence the props to MS here.

    • Frank Rizzo
      October 24, 2009 at 3:28 pm

      Linux doesn't make free software either. Sure it costs nothing and they have the source code available but it costs the hours of getting it working right. I don't like having to compile programs before I use them. A lot of the linux programs I've used look like they were developed for a high school project. I love Linux but I also love Microsofts "proprietary" software.

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