Author Topic: Looking for reputable download sites for free (or well priced) apps, games, etc.  (Read 755 times)


  • Pencil Stache
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For most software, I usually just go to the software/app's website and download from there, but I am looking for some small, free or cheap apps and games, and I'm not sure where to go. A few questions:

1.) I have heard that the Microsoft/Windows store contains 99% crapware, malware, etc., and they allow it to stay so that they can boast that they have zillions of apps. This seems crazy to me--is this true? Is this why I see numerous different versions of the same app (e.g., VLC player)--which one is the real one Mr. Bond??

2.) Supposing I begin to download/install something, e.g., as a zip or exe--can I trust Windows 10 Defender to spot any issues?

3.) I am looking for the following apps:

a) A free or cheap chess game. Windows Vista used to have a very nice 3D one, but that is long gone of course. I am not an advanced player, but would like a nice-looking one with a good feature set.

b) An ANALOG CLOCK, preferably with calendar that will reside on my desktop permanently (or until I remove it)--one that I can see all the time (provided there is not a window in the way), without pressing any buttons. Again, Vista used to have something like this.

c) PAC MAN. A mindless game, but one that I enjoy nonetheless. I also am looking for 80s Atari-style arcade games. Any suggestions? I have not played these in years, and don't even have a joystick. I find PAC MAN and other such games a fun diversion. I have zero interest in the more modern ones except FlightSim

d) A SLIDE SHOW app that will show images (jpgs and hopefully RAW, .nef and .orf) in a full-screen slide show. I used to have one in my previous Win 10 machine, but it is gone. I now have  a similar program, but it does not allow me to pause the slides so that I can advance them by clicking arrows on the keyboard. I dislike the timed, automatic advance of the slides, and want to manually advance them.

Thanks for any suggestions!


« Last Edit: October 01, 2020, 04:59:32 PM by ObviouslyNotAGolfer »


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2. I wouldn't 100% rely on it personally.
3a. If playing online is OK, then you can play chess on against the computer or other people. You can play the computer at different levels, and even view an analysis of your game afterwards.
3c. If you like 80s Atari-style arcade games then why not emulate the originals? The Mame emulator is great, you'll have to go looking for Roms though.


  • Magnum Stache
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1) There's some good stuff there in the Microsoft Store, but you have to look sharp and be on your toes. There is a lot of crapware, but there's a few good apps, too. A good place to start on validating is checking who the publisher is, and checking the links for the app's website and privacy policy, and checking app permissions (though, security settings can override some of those). And if you're still in doubt, like in the case of the version of VLC on the Microsoft Store, get the link from the developer's website directly. If there's no link to the app version in the store from the official website, that's a clue that something unsavory is up with the version you found.

Some personal favorites from the store includes: Microsoft's Diagnostic Data Viewer, f.lux, Libby, MyRadar, myTube!, NotepadX, PAWA, QR Scanner+, Microsoft Translator, vxUtil, and WiFi Analyzer.

Alternatively... PortableApps is a good alternative for some simpler applications/utilities that are mostly self-contained and don't actually install to the system and community curated, which means you can lock the system down further and still use some apps without having to actually install them to the system. There's also Ninite installer, which downloads directly from the publishers and simplifies installing and updating a lot of useful apps, and auto-bypasses installing any optional crap like toolbars.

2) Defender is okay, and I used to run it exclusively for a few years, but the past year or so I've started using either Avira (does not require online account for registration) or Bitdefender's (requires online account for registration) free AV solutions as the primary AV scanner these days as Defender's quality has been a bit off its game lately. This said, normally don't just randomly download apps off of random websites, but try to download directly when possible from the official website. If that's not an option, LO4D will typically have clean downloads, but visit with an adblocker and pay attention to where you click for downloading, and I'll usually re-check on my own anyway. For checking any downloads with basically every single available antivirus utility, use VirusTotal. Most mainstream download sites have gotten ugly, though. Try not to download any apps to install from anywhere but the official website from trusted developers, though, seriously.

3a) Good news! WinAero has the old Windows 7 default packaged game apps available for download and install under Windows 10, and it includes the venerable Chess Titans in addition to Solitaire, Minesweeper, and the like. I know the download is safe, but practice best practices anyway and check the download with VirusTotal. Just be careful during install and read every installer window prompt to make sure you don't accidentally install the WinAero Tweaker there at the end. The only downside is that you'll have to reinstall the games after every major Win10 service pack upgrade (like, once a year), so you might as well keep the installer handy.

PortableApps also has LucasChess available in their software library.

3b) Desktop widgets can potentially open up additional vectors compromising system security (why Microsoft dropped them), but Rainmeter's okay-ish, and there's more than a few analog clocks and calendar themes available among a whole slew other things... but again, scan everything and understand the risks of running this stuff.

3c) has several versions of the real thing from several platforms (Atari, DOS, Gamegear, NES, etc., among other platforms intermixed with many other games) available to play in browser, all legal like. Here's the DOS version which seems to work really well.'s Wayback Machine is also very useful for finding obscure software titles or apps from an official website that a publisher no longer offers. I don't know much about the Windows native clones out there.

3d) XnView has RAW image file support as well as a slideshow viewer that allows for either timed or manual image advancement.

« Last Edit: October 01, 2020, 10:26:14 PM by Daley »


  • Pencil Stache
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Thanks guys! I will check into these soon. Was not aware that widgets were accompanied with security vulnerabilities!


  • Pencil Stache
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Not that I'm saying you should, but... have you considered Linux as an option? Applets aren't a security issue -- they're just regular apps that happen to have no window border/decorations and are "pinned to back" in the window stacking order. Example:

I'd imagine you can find a gui based (3d or not) chess app and slideshow (possibly gnome's default image viewer? I don't know if it'll do all the formats or not) easily enough. Mame for arcade games is available everywhere so choice of OS doesn't matter there.

The trouble would be if you have windows-specific software/games and those don't play nice with Linux/Wine/Proton.