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Essential PC Software
Obviously, every PC must have an operating system, to allow you to interact with the hardware and run your application software. After the operating system, however, what you choose to use for software is entirely up to you. No two PCs are the same in terms of the software they run (except maybe in large corporations, but even there "personal touches" are quite common).
What some people consider essential software, others would never use. Therefore, it's difficult to create a list of software that everyone would agree is essential to every PC. However, there are some software programs that in this day and age, pretty much any personal computer must be equipped with. Most of these are related to the basic operation and maintenance of the machine, which is an important job that is incumbent on every PC owner.
At one time PCs came with almost nothing in terms of software. The operating system was DOS, and early versions were fairly crude, including little in the way of support utilities. Over time, Microsoft began incorporating more and more functions and utilities into its operating systems, starting with late versions of DOS and continuing through current versions of the Windows operating systems.
Today, most systems that come with Windows pre-installed already have on them a few programs that I consider essential for basic PC use:
Many people choose to either download freeware software that improves upon the above built-in software, or to pay for third-party commercial software. In addition to those programs, there is other software that you are almost certain to need at one point or another as you use your PC. If you are shopping for a pre-packaged PC, look to see if any of these programs are included; if they are, you may save yourself money if you get them bundled with the PC:
As you can see, the list is pretty short: that's a testament to how differently various PC users use their machines. There just isn't all that much software that absolutely everyone needs. I would recommend you make sure you have at least the basics above though!