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1)  OPEN OFFICEThis does everything that Microsoft Office does.  It opens, edits and saves in all of the recognized Office formats.
It contains :        OpenOffice Writer a wordprocessor (Word)
OpenOffice Calc – for spreadsheets (Excel)
                                  OpenOffice Draw – for simple graphics
                                  OpenOffice Impress – for presentations (Powerpoint)
                                  OpenOffice Base – for databases (Access)

2)  INKSCAPEThis a fairly sophisticated vector graphics drawing package similar in function to Adobe Illustrator but not as complex.  It includes some very useful tutorials to get things going.

3)  THE GIMPApart from its strange name, this is a very  good piece of photographic manipulation software, similar to Photoshop or Paintshop pro.  It can handle all of the known file formats  However, whilst it is very powerful it does take a little getting used to.

You need to download GIMP for Windows and the GTK+2 Runtime Environment (different versions depending on whether you have Windows 2000 and beyond or Windows 98/ME or NT)
Install the Runtime Environment first then install the GIMP.

4)  SCRIBUSA desktop publisher similar to Microsoft Publisher.  It will do practically everything that publisher can do, but it cannot open, or save publisher files.

5)  IRFANVIEWThis is an excellent image viewer, it doesn't take up much space and is very quick.  It handles a very wide range of files formats including audio and video.   It is very good for batch processing image files.

Another very good image image manipulator - a bit like a cut down version of paint shop.

7)  DRAFTSIGHTThis is a free piece of CAD software from Dassault Systemes- the company behind Solidworks.  There is a guide to download as well on the same page.

8)  SCREENSHOT This is a very useful piece of software for taking screenshots easily and quickly.  It allows you to capture any area of the screen and paste it where you want - you need to set up the source (screen area) and destination (clip board) in preferences.

This piece of software can capture video from the screen and is very useful for producing a short clip of your circuit and PCB actually working and showing that it works and solves the original problem.  This captures both video and sound well.  Whilst it is free, you will need to register to continue using it for free after 30 days.

10)  E-DRAW
This is a very useful piece of software for drawing mindmaps or as we sometimes call them - spider diagrams.  This is the latest version of the software and will download directly from the Edraw web site.