Google Desktop Search (GDS) 4 is the most powerful and configurable program out there and I use this to search my fixed and network drives - that is more than 4 TB of information and it handles it extremely well. Even though GDS searches your Outlook emails as well for that I would recommend Lookout v1.2.
After significant problems with Norton and McAfee with regards to tying up of system resources and computer slowdown as well as difficult and incomplete uninstallations, I have settled on an all-in-one security suite that seems to have the best balance of any suite out there. ZoneAlarm Security Suite which in addition to acting as probably the best firewall available also has good antivirus and anti-spyware functionality for the best value for money.
I would also have Spybot Search and Destroy installed as well as Microsoft Windows Defender (free from Microsoft) and WebRoot Window Washer.
For reviews of firewalls go to www.firewallguide.com.
I currently use Mozilla Firefox and Opera both of which are free -- they are much safer to use than IE.
Without a doubt Nero
Napster was the ultimate in simplicity and scale for downloading mp3 music, dead for a long time is reborn as a Paid Service. However, the best current for Pay site is RealPalyer RealRaphsody followed by the famous iPod iTunes site and you now have Windows Media Player and MusicMatch Jukebox Pay sites as well as WallMart and others.
For peer to peer (P2P) download services. The most well known currently being Kazaa nut mant other programs exist most a little more tricky to use, however, an excellent source which is kept updated for this information is here. Some alternatives for filesharing include Gnutella and its derivatives including Morpheus, Bearshare and Limewire. The protocol I would most recommend however is BitTorrent, it is the most useful for downloading full albums and full DVD movies etc. and the best client to use for this is uTorrent.
Best free software MP3 player would be Winamp.
Photoshop CS 2.0
Paintshop Pro 12.0
Microsoft Office is the standard, if you use anything else you may end up causing yourself some grief. On the other hand if you do not want to pay for your Office Suite you cannot go wrong with IBMs Lotus Symphony Suite which is free and uses the Open Document Format but can open and manipulate MS Office Word, Excel and Powerpoint files and Acobat PDF files... Or Star Office from Sun which once upon a time was free but now carries a $69.95 price tag for download, but for now you can get it for free by downloading a Google Pack.
Yahoo and Windows Live Messenger and Skype obviously do this quite well now all you have to do is invite someone on the service with you to a Voice or Video Chat. Microsoft NetMeeting is available if you know how to use it.
Trillian which combines all ICQ!, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger. I use all 3.
Quicken 2008 has better reviews this year than
Microsoft Money 2008
What I use is Paperport 11.0 it is I believe the all round best program in simplicity and everything else.