Can't be asked to install and learn linux even though most people cry it's the best for a power user? Don't worry, Windows 8.1 is much better than most people would have you believe and it is very much lightweight and optimized properly for SSD's. In addition, you can always find the program you need for any specific task instead of trying to find a piece of software that makes you work for it instead of the other way around. This along with many professional programs being used as industry standards also remain on windows. With all your games being able to run natively on your operating this gives you some incentive to stay on the platform. General Utilities: Note: Not all of these programs are opensource but the majority are. If you decide to pirate them that's cool but I don't accept any responsibility for your wrongdoing. While not a program itself: Ninite will install some of the programs listed below for convenience if you're on a fresh build. StartIsBack: Sadly we do have to use this program to get rid of some of windows 8.1's UI problems. The program itself offers plenty of customisation along with windows's own options when it comes to managing the startscreen and the start menu. It's technically not free to use the full version legally after trying the trial version for a month, but is cheap (3 dollars) VLC: This will, without fail, play every video/audio file format while being lightweight and dead simple to use. You probably have it installed already. SVP Player: Ever wondered what that argument over the Hobbit's 24 frames per second vs 48 frames per second was all about? This program along with a couple of other things it installs that it needs will to render a 24fps video file as whatever frames per setting value you want, for example I play most content at 72 frames per second 3x the amount of fps you get in the cinema. All motion appears much smoother, which is good for actions sequences and bullet time. However it does take some getting used to. As the program renders the video at the new fps in realtime you need to have a reasonably good processor that isn't from the previous decade. Sadly the smooth motion doesn't work with VLC, I am looking into if support might be added for this project. However SVP Player does produce some weird artefacts sometimes and the video player it works with isn't quite as good as VLC. Plex: An easy way to manage video media over multiple devices in your LAN. Tell it what folders on what drives you want to sync and it'll do it. Works with Android (can transfer the entire video file to the device for offline viewing) and chromecast to stream the media from your computer upstairs to downstairs in the living room. The main reason I use Plex is because of its easy of use to setup unlike some media servers I have used in past and requires no port forwarding. However you do need to buy the android app (£2.49) for you to stream and sync content to your android device. Livestreamer: The website explains what it does but you can essentially stream a twitch.tv into VLC. This usually gets rid of the annoying lag problems twitch.tv normally has. If you're missing the chat you can log into twitch's chat servers using IRC. Open Broadcaster Source: Stream to twitch.tv and anything else that's trying to be relevant. It's pretty easy to set up and get going. Audacity: You never know when you want to edit or record sound. Even if you never use it, it's just handy to have around. AIMP3: In my opinion the best music player. Wide variety of skins along with the feature of tapping the edge of screen to show the UI without the program showing on the taskbar. Not the greatest amount of settings but it gets the job done well. Notepad++: Don't think, just get it. Once you start using it you'll see why. Even if you don't program its useful for opening text files. VirtualWin: Ever used virtual desktops? Usually most linux environments do and for a poweruser, they are essential, especially when you get restricted to one monitor. This program is heavily customisable in every aspect, I won't go through it but its damn-near perfect. Here are the different modules you can install for more features. 7-Zip: Best free extractor out there without annoying popups. Daemon Tools Lite: You never know when you need to open/run an ISO file. This is the best lightweight program out there and doesn't even show in background tasks by default! SharpKeys: Rebind any key to another key without having to muck along in windows registry files. It still needs to write to the registry though so you need to give it admin access. F.lux: Has been mentioned on this forums before but it needs mentioning again. The website explains for it does pretty damn well. Fraps/Dxtory: While fraps is not the best video recording program, its still the better benchmark tool and screenshot taker. It also provides a damn useful frame checker on every directx/opengl rendered application or web page. I have started to use Dxtory even more and you can even set it up with Open Broadcast Software to record the footage as well as stream it in realtime. For a free way to record stuff, look into MSI Afterburner, its good for overclocking your GPU too! IRC/VOIP: I use Hexchat for IRC for it's easy of use and great customisable features, along with different themes. However I have been thinking of switching from this as it does not support tiling different channels on the same screen(someone suggest a good replacement!) Here is Dabbles's guide for setting up Hexchat. Generally for VOIP if you want to set up your own server you want to stick with Teamspeak3 as its the easiest to setup and start using from the getgo for both you and your users. However, you will probably want Ventrilo and Mumble installed too incase someone hasn't seen the light of teamspeak.