The best free open source software for Windows

If you run Microsoft Windows, you owe it to yourself to try these 10 killer open source apps -- InfoWorld's top picks

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Tighten your belt with 7-Zip

7-Zip is another great example of a free open source project that takes over where many commercial solutions stop. Incorporating a wide range of decompression formats (from ARJ to ZIP, and virtually everything in between) and its own advanced LZMA-based compression engine, 7-Zip delivers performance on par with proprietary formats like RAR and ACE while remaining entirely open and extensible.

I first encountered 7-Zip while downloading archived Nvidia drivers from the fount of all things mobile, LaptopVideo2Go.com. All of the driver packages were encoded with 7-Zip using its self-extracting option, making it easy to pull down the sometimes bulky Nvidia ForceWare suites over my sometimes spotty international Internet connection.

After downloading, I found that the packages decompressed quickly and reliably. I’ve never encountered an error or data corruption with 7-Zip, which is more than I can say for PKZIP and its myriad derivatives. And because 7-Zip is a free open source project, released under the GNU LGPL, I don’t have to wade through all of the nagware screens that accompany the trial versions of commercial versions.

Bottom line: 7-Zip provides everything you could want in a basic file compression solution. It’s fast and reliable, and it supports a wide range of formats -- a real no-brainer.

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7-Zip’s LZMA-based algorithms deliver excellent compression ratios -- for example, deflating a megabyte of files to a package of just 64KB in size.
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