Windows has tons of free software, and of course, there are so many websites where you can download it. The challenge is that a lot of these freeware download sites, each claiming to be the best, routinely saddle the software with custom installers, adware, crapware and bloatware. Often the freeware developers don’t even know that their package is being bundled with all manner of other things.
However, there are still quite a few reliable software download websites which don’t complicate the core installer with crapware. The following updated list comprises an exhaustive collection of such sites where you can download Windows software, minus the bad stuff.
As this list is primarily of Windows software, the official Microsoft site should be your first port of call. Since it’s the official source of trusted Microsoft apps, you can be 100 percent sure there will be no malware and unnecessary add-ons, guaranteeing a clean installation. Personally, for Windows, Office, and other native Microsoft programs, I prefer downloading only from the official link.
On the official Microsoft link, you’ll not only find all the software packages you need but also optional updates and hotfixes, including the .NET framework, driver kits, web browsers, developer tools, and service packs for Xbox games, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator. Also, if you need to install older software, you can. Naturally, you shouldn’t expect to find third-party software on the official site.
2. Microsoft Store
Continuing with our “you can’t go wrong with the source” approach, Microsoft Store is a recommended source for downloading frequently used and popular Windows software. Apart from native Microsoft apps available on Microsoft.com, you also get access to several third-party apps designed for a Windows system. These include iTunes, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Facebook, Spotify, VLC, Python, Adobe Lightroom, Pinterest, Ubuntu for Microsoft, Slack, Screen Recorder Pro, Zoom for Microsoft Edge, and many more.
One reason Microsoft Store is more popular than other sites is that it is designed to work with Windows systems, which got updated with your last PC update. Downloading any non-native apps is so much easier and faster than running a manual installer. Basically, the third-party software developers worked to optimize their offering for a Windows 10 environment. This means there will be absolutely no compatibility issues. However, some users have reported problems with Microsoft Store, for which we have an extensive troubleshooting guide.
SourceForge is worth its reputation as a reliable open source and business software download site. What I like most about SourceForge is that it aims to address an important user concern that the third-party software may not be the official one. This is done through a ticker that the software is an “exact mirror” of the official project hosted on the official site. While other download sites also give similar indications, SourceForge has an extra reassuring “feel” about it.
The site further reassures us of safety by scanning all installations for malware. If flagged, you can view clearly displayed warnings on the downloads. From an intuitive search button, you can zero in on any software you need, including its latest and legacy versions. Each one has honest user reviews and screenshots, which helps you know what you’re getting into.
The collection of software is similarly impressive. Currently, SourceForge hosts over 500,000 projects, including 64,500 business software. Although a majority of them are open source programs, there are hardly any Windows (and Mac, Linux) programs you won’t find here. From a user experience perspective, SourceForge is easily a top recommendation for us.
We highly recommend AlternativeTo for those situations where you’re not satisfied with some of your existing software and need better-quality alternatives. AlternativeTo has a “SourceForge-like” feel in how the software items are arranged: with easy search, screenshots, comments and reviews, and official download links of the concerned solution. Nearly 100,000 of them.
But there’s a slight difference: the site itself does not host any mirrors, only maintaining the updated links to download whatever you need. AlternativeTo’s main selling point is a crowdsourced rating and comparison system which gives you tons of alternatives at one glance. The detailed user-centric reviews help you learn new products on the anvil, any UI and customization issues, and whether you’ll have to eventually pay more than what is advertised.
While a little intricate to learn, GitHub is increasingly a popular option for sophisticated software versions, as it’s one of the largest repositories of original code. Apart from mainly open source software, you can find thousands of Windows repositories such as its latest Windows Terminal, Skype for Business, Docker, Azure, PowerToys, and much more. All the software versions are malware-free and updated in real time by a global community of developers.
GitHub has today become a necessary tool for advanced developers, but you can find a lot of solutions for the casual user. One stumbling block is that there are no direct download links. The best way to use GitHub is to go to the top level of a repository and choose a download Zip option from a code pull-down menu. We have updated beginner’s guides on using Git and GitHub and how to start with Git Bash software.
Are you an avid gamer? If you want to play any game reliably on a Windows PC, Steam gives Microsoft Store a run for its money. It not only has a collection of over 30,000 gaming software for Windows and other OS but also some of the best discounted prices, user reviews, and a community 100 million strong. You have to install the Steam software from the official link and need a Steam ID and library manager. Once done, you can download any game you want. If you’ve run into any issues while working with Steam, try these fixes.
We have so far discussed the latest software downloading environments. If you’re looking for a more traditional site with a minimalistic approach, Filepuma will easily serve your needs. It’s not the biggest repository of PC software but certainly one of the cleanest and most user-friendly in terms of not foisting advertising or dodgy installers on you. It has all the mainstream stuff you’d expect – from Skype to Google Drive via Dropbox.
There’s plenty more unique software here, too, and it’s all pretty easy to find using the categories listed in the pane on the left. The most popular software in the various categories is listed on the main page, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. Minimal and elegant, Filepuma is a nice simple choice for your software downloads. The only annoyance is the ads on the main page (not on the software), which can be easily turned off.
Ninite is one of the best free software download sites that provides some popular software, like Chrome, VLC, Gimp, Foxit Reader, and Spotify. While using Ninite, you don’t have to worry about the bundled crapware, and best of all, you can install all the software you want with just a click or two. You don’t have to install each and every software individually – Ninite automatically downloads the latest version and installs it for you. Ninite Pro software is used by thousands of companies for its great reliability. The only drawback: the number of available software is rather limited.
Softpedia is one the biggest and most popular free software download sites where you can find almost any free and paid software you need for multiple platforms. The good thing about Softpedia is that you will always get the latest version of the software you want. Moreover, Softpedia also provides you with software reviews and actual screenshots for almost all the popular and most-used software. If you’ve never used Softpedia, do give it a try.
DownloadCrew has recently updated its navigation menus and features selection to provide intuitive access to software on Windows and other platforms. It expressly provides the latest download links, mentions the last update dates, and gives comments on software use.
Among many Windows-centric solutions, DownloadCrew has a superb collection of VPN apps, security and privacy toolkits, audio and video tools, and collaboration/meeting software. With a neat interface and easy-to-read font style, you can easily zero in on your desired software. This is a good site with an exhaustive list of Windows and third-party software solutions.
FileHorse offers a handy selection of high-quality software and apps for Windows and macOS. All the software are frequently updated with the latest versions. Along with the download links, you get a complete description on whether the software is free or a free trial and the key features to expect. You also get a handy list of alternatives to the software, although not as exhaustive as Alternative.to, which we have mentioned above.
A prominent security status badge next to each software download reassures you of file safety. If you don’t want to install any software, FileHorse also offers a cloud web version where you can work with various cloud-based software.
We’ll round of our list with Chocolatey, a very simple coding platform that helps download any program on a Windows PC. This is useful for developers who work with PowerShell, Windows Terminal, and Command line tools. To download any software through Chocolatey, you have to run PowerShell or Windows Terminal in admin mode and search for the relevant maintained package on the site. Currently, there is more than 8000 software, including Adobe Acrobat Reader, Google Chrome, Python, Git, and Windows Terminal. The following screen shows how to install Chocolatey.
You should always be careful when you are downloading an application from the Web. Other than computer worms and viruses, you should also be aware of the bundled adware and crapware. The sites listed here are some of the best places for you to download Windows software safely. Read on to learn about the Windows 10 apps you should uninstall immediately.