If you are a newbie to the world of computers and are looking for a very handy toolset to start off with, u will find the list below useful.
Feel free to pour out your suggestions on as well in the comments.
Here goes my list
- Operating system - I should say that I am still in love with Windows XP SP2/3. This rock solid OS is really the best one around today as well. I do own a Mac running 'Leopard' as well but I guess XP is the one I would suggest for general users. I haven't upgraded to Vista yet. Hence, I can't really comment much on it. But from my talks with friends who have Vista, Vista does a neat job as well - so either XP or Vista should be good. For a web or open-source developer, Mac OS X would be my suggestion because of its fantastic support for such development. Or if you wanna go for open-source, Ubuntu is my choice (http://www.ubuntu.com/). It's one of those Linux distributions that is a breeze to install and also work with on a day-to-day basis with a really powerful package management tool that just pulverises the issues with dependency management of packages. Common tasks like connecting with networks and installing hardware drivers are also made easier in this version.
- Email - Gmail ( http://mail.google.com) is the one that I prefer over all other alternatives today. It really neat, professional and responsive interface and the godly 'thread' feature just blows away other competitors.
- Media - Video - VLC player ( http://www.videolan.org/vlc/ ) is the winner here. Extremely light. Very easy keyboard shortcuts and support for almost every format make it the first choice.
- Media - Audio - I do not use an audio player on the PC often since I have an iPod. I must say that I haven't found a really good PC audio player so far. Please let me know if you fell in love with any.
- Office productivity - MS Office 2007 with its Ribbon interface ranks top-notch here.
- Messenger - Gtalk is what I use almost all the time. Really light interface. For other protocols, Pidgin (http://www.pidgin.im/) is pretty neat. It enables one to have all the umpteen protocols under one light application - ICQ, MSN, Yahoo and Gtalk. For a Mac, Adium X is just one beautiful piece of software. (http://www.adiumx.com/)
- Web Browser - Firefox is my favorite on a PC. Safari/Camino on a Mac are good ones.
- Search - The search bar (Google search engine behind) in Firefox works like a charm here with auto-complete suggestions and obviously high on relevance.
- Editor (mainly for developers) - Vim is my favorite here where it be PC or Mac.
- Blogging - You obviously know this! Blogger of course. (http://www.blogger.com) But I guess there are quite a few alternatives that are good as well like LiveJournal. Not sure about the paid (value-added) services available around though.
- RSS feeds - Google reader is pretty neat here. (http://reader.google.com)
- Social networking - Wow, how could I forget this. As of today, Facebook with its re-designed interface with plentiful AJAX support ranks #1 (http://www.facebook.com)
- Professional networking - Linked-in is a gem of a service in this space. True to its purpose is what I would say about this service. (http://www.linkedin.com/)
- Photo management - Picasa is the best one I've seen so far in this space (http://picasa.google.com/)