Windows Starter Kit

The Windows Starter Kit is a collection of some of the best and most essential freeware to get your new PC going. From browsers to productivity to utilities, we cover all the bases. If you're looking for the best in security freeware, check out our Security Starter Kit for all your antivirus needs. Essential utilities have earned their own kit, too: the Windows Utilities Starter Kit.

E-mail clients

Mozilla Thunderbird

Our only recommendation for a freeware e-mail client, Mozilla Thunderbird combines smart browsing with sharp innovations aimed at both Web-mail clients and industry standards like Microsoft Outlook. Basics like junk-mail filters, HTML support, multiple identities, and POP, IMAP, and Microsoft Exchange server support load fast and are bolstered by S/MMIE, digital signing, message encryption, and a phishing detector. Interface tweaks maximize message viewing--a necessity in an e-mail reader.

Back and forward browser-style buttons, customizable tags, and colors make it a cinch to keep things organized, even across folders. Gmail support is as simple as entering your e-mail and password; searches can be saved as folders; and Thunderbird supports extensions like Firefox, allowing for serious enhancement tweaks, including everything from calendar and scheduling support to PGP encryption.

If your computer comes with Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail, there's nothing wrong with using them. However, Thunderbird is the only client that brings the utility of Firefox extensions and the developer's community behind them to secure e-mailing.