Other apps in 2021 (vs back-then)

18

Inspired by the “Browser(s) in 2021” post I thought I’d widen-it-out and ask: for various categories, what apps do you use now, and what did you back then (say back in the Windows Vista/7, XP/2000 and 9x/Me days)? I’ll be focusing mostly on Windows, but feel-free to comment below for macOS, iOS or Android also.

Office suite: Microsoft Office, on both Windows and Android. Never changed over-the-years: I find LibreOffice terrible for fidelity — especially Calc which always has formatting inconsistencies for files created in Excel. I’d recommend either WPS Office (if you trust Chinese-made software) or (particularly) StarMaker FreeOffice as better alternatives.

File browser: just the built-in one (Windows Explorer; thesedays File Explorer). However for some tasks I use the resurrected Windows File Manager (WINFILE) from GitHub (the file-browser that was the default in Windows 3.x).

Media Player: thesedays Media Player Classic – Home Cinema on Windows, or VLC Media Player on Android. In the past I’ve also used Windows Media Player on Windows, and also RealPlayer (remember that?) way back in-the-day. (I also remember QuickTime Player for Windows — did anyone ever actually use it?) The Groove Music app thesedays is also fine, I find.

Anti-virus / anti-malware: Windows Security, the one built-into Windows 10, along-with the odd Malwarebytes scan, along with uploading certain files to virustotal.com. Back-in-the-day either Microsoft Security Essentials (which is still getting definition updates on Windows 7!), Avira Anti-Virus or before-that AVG Anti-Virus.

Firewall: software-wise, just the one built-into Windows 10 now. Though prior to Windows XP SP2, I did used to use ZoneAlarm.

CD/DVD Burning: ah yes, that wildly-popular thing people still do loads of(!) On the rare-occasion I have an .ISO image to burn, I just use Windows’ own built-in support, or for creating a data or audio disc, CDBurnerXP. Though way-back-when our old family PC did use Nero Burning ROM — wonder how many copies of that they sell thesedays?

E-mail client: the built-in “Mail” app in Windows 10, or the Outlook app on Android. I’m sure I did use Outlook Express back-in-the-day, but mostly just used the Hotmail/Outlook website versions instead — and still do now, for features “Mail” doesn’t offer. OE Classic is a modern-equivalent of Outlook Express I’d recommend if you just want a basic Windows e-mail client, though like with Thunderbird it doesn’t support 2FA log-ins so you have to get one of those “one-time app passwords” to initially set it up.

File archiver: thesedays, 7-Zip or WinRAR only on Windows; or just WinRAR on Android (as there is no official 7-Zip port). Back-in-the-day, PowerArchiver, WinZip or PKZip for DOS!

Audio Editing: Nero WaveEditor. Have used it since way-back-when as it came with Nero Burning ROM. I’m fine using Audacity also, but find NWE simpler overall.

Audio Conversion: dBpoweramp works for me, though the free “fre:ac” is a good-alternative.

PDF client: SumatraPDF is my go-to thesedays; I think before that I might have used FoxIt Reader, but it was mostly just always Adobe Reader, which I still use on Android.

Virtualisation client: I tend to use VMWare Player more because it runs VMs a little-faster on my PC, and VirtualBox doesn’t support anything below Windows 2000/XP, so running anything older, like Windows 3.x/95/98/Me, results in very poor-performance and no integration features, like drag-and-drop copying of local-to-guest files, or higher-resolutions or color bit-depths. Back-in-the-day I also used the “Virtual PC” releases from Microsoft, and I did play-around-with the Windows XP Mode in higher-end editions of Windows 7.

Social-chat / VoIP: mostly WhatsApp on Android for family and friends, though (aside from Zoom, which in the pandemic has shot-up in popularity!) I still have some friends who still use Skype. Back-in-the-day MSN Messenger, Windows Messenger (the one that came bundled with Windows XP) and Windows Live Messenger were my main go-tos: didn’t know many in the UK using rivals, like Yahoo! Messenger or AOL. I think I used NetMeeting a handful of times, but never regularly.

FTP client: while most web-browsers thesedays have dropped-support, File Explorer in Windows 10 still lets you browse FTP sites, though should that ever drop then likely FileZilla, as I’m not aware of anything simpler. Back-in-the-day I’d just have used whatever browser had support built-in: probably Firefox, as I don’t think IE did at the time?

Remote Support: when assisting family or the odd friend TeamViewer is my go-to. Remote Assistance has been a thing in Windows since XP — but does anyone ever actually use it?

Data Recovery: can’t recall what I would have used way-back-when, but thesedays Recuva is a simple go-to; otherwise TestDisk/PhotoRec is the next-simplest, followed-by DMDE.

MIDI Player: ah yes, like with optical-disc burning another need clearly everyone has thesedays(!) Coolsoft VirtualMIDISynth is what I’d recommend — if you play an old game in DOSBox that uses MIDI, like DOOM, or one of the many point-and-click games, it will hook-into it and use whatever soundfont you’re using for an upgraded experience. Back-in-the-day I had a PC with a Creative soundcard (remember when they were separate cards?) which used to let you change the soundfont within the driver-settings.

Full-Disk Encryption: thesedays if it’s a version of Windows that offers it, usually BitLocker; but on ones which don’t VeraCrypt. Not something I ever used back-in-the-day. And on Android, of course, your built-in storage has been auto-encrypted for many-versions now as-standard.

Privacy Cleaner: thesedays if I was really going to bother, BleachBit, or CCleaner back-in-the-day.

That’s all I can think-of off-the-top-of-my-head… feel-free to suggest any alternatives below, or reminisce on which blasts-from-the-pasts apps you used to use which are long-since dead!

Comments (18)

18 responses to “Other apps in 2021 (vs back-then)”

  1. samp

    I haven't really changed, except from Office to Google Docs before Office became free.

    Otherwise I use all the default options on Windows, except code editor (Sublime), anti virus (BitDefender), Email (Gmail with Checker Plus, though I do have standard Email all setup), VLC for films sometimes, CCleaner, QuickAssist/Teamviewer ( I like QuickAssist, but some don't even know how to find it), IOBit uninstaller, and TaskbarX and Rainmeter for customization.

    If I think of more I'll add it later.

    • dftf

      In reply to samp:

      I forgot about BitDefender -- I did run the free version of that for a while, but they had some feature where they would break encryption on HTTPS sites by essentially installing a new root trust certificate on your system and doing a localised "man-in-the-middle" style situation to locally break a site's encryption so they could scan every file. Loads of sites I used started hanging or breaking, so I moved away. By that time, most independent AV test sites (like AVTest or AVComparities) were saying Microsoft's own were regularly top-performers, and I'm not sure BitDefender Free has seen any updates in ages?


      Quick Assist is essentially just the current name for Windows Remote Assistance. Loads of big-companies use Windows Remote Desktop, which is what QA/RA is built on-top-of, though.

  2. bkkcanuck


    Office suite: Pages and Numbers (for my own use), but for the next year I subscribed to MS Office for work as that is what the customer uses... (MS Office/Libre Office on Windows depending on document)


    File browser: Firefox mostly (previously Chrome; Safari)


    Media Player: IINA - it is very good on the mac (none on Windows) (mplayerx I think)


    Anti-virus / anti-malware: None, I practice safe browsing :o


    Firewall: hardware


    CD/DVD Burning: None


    E-mail client: Mimestream (recently) for google mail on the Mac; MS Outlook on Windows. (previously Apple Mail; Mimestream does not cache as much on the local computer and it is almost an Apple Mail clone but optimized for GMail).


    File archiver: 7-Zip (Winzip previously)


    PDF client: Preview on Mac; Adobe Reader on Windows (no change)


    Virtualisation client: VMware Workstation/Fusion Pro (I have two licenses now but only need one since the last update) (no change)


    Social-chat / VoIP: Webex mostly for work meetings, Facebook for Family. (no real change)


    FTP client: UNIX sftp (macos), Filezilla for Windows (no real change)


    Remote Support: Remote Desktop for Work (no real change)


    Data Recovery: Carbon-copy macos; none-windows - I store most things in duplicate on two 12 TB Seagate Ironwolf Pro drives. (no real change)



    • dftf

      In reply to bkkcanuck:

      As I'm not a macOS user, I couldn't say myself, so: feature-wise, how do things like Pages, Numbers and Keynote compare to LibreOffice?


      Also, why Firefox over Safari as web-browser?

      • bkkcanuck

        In reply to dftf:

        When it comes to office applications I am by no means a power user. As a general opinion, Apple apps tend to be less cluttered and focused on the the functionality that most users need. (80 / 20 rule I guess or maybe 90 / 10). When too much functionality is displayed up front - it is just an annoying situation... just give me the basic functionality on the UI by default and allow for me to turn on turn off features as needed.


        Excel is better for large spreadsheets and power users (more functions). Numbers is better for people like me that have simple uses (I use numbers for my invoices as they only go to one company and I don't need an invoicing system for corporate use). I also use Numbers for other simple spreadsheets where I need simple functionality (mostly personal use).


        Word I use for work documents (when they are in word - some are Libre Office, some are Word).... Word is also used for internal design documents but that is driving me nuts because a lot of it is tables - with a mix of split and merged cells and when I want to copy the same format for three lines... it does not do very well. Pages I prefer, but then if I am doing my own documents for myself and they are simple I would probably just use Markdown (and neither Word or Pages)


        Keynote I find to be superior to Powerpoint personally - but then maybe I never used Powerpoint correctly :o


        Libre Office is fine for most stuff... I don't love nor hate it.


        As far as Firefox over Safari... I think I started using Firefox again for either a specific website or to split usage between the two and keep the stuff separated... then just ended up using Firefox exclusively really (though I cannot remember the exact reason). Both are fine and I don't feel I am missing anything by using Safari over Firefox ... but for some reason I like Firefox more... it is weird.


        If it were not for work I would not touch MS Office.

  3. wright_is

    Office suite: Microsoft Office 365 (Office 4.3)

    File browser: Explorer (Explorer)

    Media Player: VLC (MusicMatch Jukebox)

    Anti-virus / anti-malware: Windows built-in / Kaspersky at work (GData, Kaspersky, F-Secure, TrendMicro)

    Firewall: Never used one. Hardware firewalls Ubiquiti Unifi USG (IPCop, pfSense)

    CD/DVD Burning: Windows (Nero)

    E-mail client: Outlook (Outlook, before that NavCIS for Compu$erve)

    Audio Editing: none (none)

    Audio Conversion: none (none)

    PDF client: Adobe Reader (Adobe ReadeR)

    Virtualisation client: HyperV (VMware)

    Social-chat / VoIP: Signal / Teams at work (Skype, Trillian)

    FTP client: Filezilla (Filezilla)

    Remote Support: TeamViewer (none)

    Data Recovery: Carbonite and Veeam, plus rsync (copy Zip disks & CDs)

    MIDI Player: none (Windows)

    Full-Disk Encryption: Bitlocker (none)

    Privacy Cleaner: None

    Web browser: Firefox/Brave (Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox)

    Image editing: Affinity Photo / Capture One (Deluxe Paint IV)

    • dftf

      In reply to wright_is:

      Before I realised your entries inside brackets (parenthesis) were what you used to use I was thinking "why is he saying Office 365 is version 4.3, wasn't that like in the Windows 3.x days?" ;)


      We use SCEP at work, which is essentially "Microsoft Security Essentials" but for enterprises.


      As lots of people mention it, is Hyper-V loads-better than VMWare (or VirtualBox) feature or performance-wise... or is it just a case of "it's already there"?


      "MIDI Player: none (Windows)" - if you ever encounter a MIDI file thesedays, Windows Media Player or Groove Music will still play them. But given the soundfont they still use in Windows 10 today was the one licenced from Roland in 1996, don't expect them to sound great! ;)

      • wright_is

        In reply to dftf:

        It is free, so cheaper than VMware Workstation on a PC and it is a full hypervisor, so better than VirtualBox. The down side is, that you need Windows 10 Pro or Server - or you need to download the free HyperV ISO and run it as you hypervisor and install a Windows 10 instance within HyperV.

        Is it better? It is the same, but different to VMware ESXi. It misses out of some of the VMware workstation features, but includes a lot of professional settings. So there are no unity modes and sound doesn't work on Linux, but if you are running lots of Windows VMs or Linux servers/desktops with no need for sound then it is a great choice.

        It is also what you are used to. If you use HyperV at work, stick with it at home. If you use VMware, stick with VMware.

        I started using it when I moved jobs, I wanted to do some training and experimenting, whilst looking for a new job and it was a great way to expand my skills set (I was VMware vSphere until then) and it was cheap. Having a Ryzen 7 with 32GB RAM made things easy, running multiple servers.

        I had some great Midi players on my Amiga, but never bothered, when I switched to the PC around 1995, I had a CD-ROM and ~1,000 CDs, I didn't need my Midi collection any more.

  4. Usman

    Office suite: 

    Mainly just Office Desktop / Web / Mobile.

    File browser: 

    Regular File Explorer

    Media Player: 

    Past: Foobar for audio, VLC for video.

    Present: Native audio player for local files. Spotify / Youtube for streaming, Video in VLC if the native media player on the OS doesn't work

    Anti-virus / anti-malware:

    Past: Avast or MSE,

    Present: Built-in Windows Defender

    Firewall: 

    The regular firewall in Router & Windows Firewall

    CD/DVD Burning: 

    Past: The default ISO burner on Windows XP+ for CDs. Ashampoo for DVDs.

    Present: Nothing

    E-mail client: 

    Past: Thunderbird.

    Present: Outlook Mobile and Outlook Progressive Web App on desktop

    File archiver: 

    7zip

    Audio Editing:

    Audacity, Adobe Edition or Any audio trimming app

    Audio Conversion:

    Super Convertor

    Virtualisation client: 

    Hyper-V, it just works and comes with Windows.

    Social-chat / VoIP:

    Past: AIM, MSN, Skype.

    Present: Discord, Whatsapp, Signal, FB Messenger, Twitter DMs, Teams, Zoom

    FTP client: Filezilla

    Remote Support: Teamviewer

    Data Recovery: Recuvva

    MIDI Player: Same as Media player

    Full-Disk Encryption: Bitlocker

    Privacy Cleaner:

    Past: CCleaner

    Present: Re-Install Windows

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Usman:

      Privacy Cleaner:
      Past:
      CCleaner
      Present:
      Re-Install Windows

      Lemme guess, retired, no grandchildren nearby, lots of time on your hands?

      • dftf

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Lol, I was thinking the same thing... but of an extreme way to go-about it!


        They'd be better-off at-least setting up Windows 10 in a VM in either VirtualBox or VMWare Workstation, and then when they turn it off, choose the option to revert-back to the previous snapshot. It'd sure be easier!

      • yaddamaster

        In reply to hrlngrv: Meh, that's what I do now as well. Reinstalling Windows is a 20 minute affair (max) on my machine. Reinstalling all my apps doesn't take more than an hour or two.

        Back in the day when I would tweak everything and customize the heck out of everything I would have cared more and been more careful. But now I just don't care to tweak that much.


  5. hrlngrv

    The only things I use outside work which only run on Windows are Excel and Access. Actually, I use a few other pieces of Windows software, but they run under wine under Linux.

    Firefox, VLC, RStudio+GNU R, Okular (my favorite app from the MSFT Store), Foxit Reader (which is still better than any other PDF reader I've tried for copying tabular data from PDFs to paste into Excel). I use MS Paint from Windows XP (no @#$%&*! ribbon) under later versions of Windows and under wine under Linux (though there are issues saving as .PNG). Combination of ReText and LyX for technical writing. As for file management, I have console/terminal Midnight Commander for Windows and Linux, and Beyond Compare for more substantial tasks.

    Tangent: I've come to HATE the crappy dialogs Dropbox and OneDrive provide for selecting which directories and files to sync. I just started using rclone under Windows and Linux to mount them, then I can use Beyond Compare to sync only what I want synced. So far it's working well, a helluva lot better than relying on Dropbox and OneDrive clients.

  6. polloloco51

    Web Browser

    Then: Internet Explorer (to early 2010s), Chrome, & Opera

    Now: Mostly Chrome & Edge

     Media Playback

    Then: Windows Media player (until Windows 10 release)

    Now: Groove, VLC Media & occasionally WMP

     Anti-Virus

    Then: (gulp) McAfee, courtesy of AOL (around 2008). The worst anti-virus, of all time! Then, Avast, this was much, much better!

    Now: Windows Defender, zero issues thus far.

     Email

    Then: AOL Desktop and Gmail (2000s). Also, Microsoft Outlook.

    Now: Windows 10 Mail App, and Gmail (in browser)

     Photo Manipulation & Graphical Design

    Then: Adobe Photoshop

    Now: Adobe Photoshop, Gimp and Lightroom

     Web Development

    Then: Adobe Dreamweaver

    Now: Adobe Dreamweaver & Wordpress

     File Extracting and Zipping

    Then: Winzip, Winrar, etc

    Now: Built in Windows and other software, when needed

     PDF Readers

    Then: Adobe

    Now: Mostly in Chrome. Sometimes, in the dedicated PDF app.

     Disc Burning

    Neo & Imgburn

    Now: Mostly Window's built in disc burning

     Office Suite

    Then: Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Office 2003

    Now: Microsoft Office 2007 (still works fine for everything).

     Gaming

    Then: Steam

    Now: Steam

     Audio Editing

    Then, Audacity.

    Now, Audacity. <Premiere can do some audio editing too!>

     Chat

    Then: AOL IM

    Now: Facebook Messenger, and SMS.


    • darkgrayknight

      In reply to polloloco51:

      Web Development:

      Then: Notepad/Microsoft FrontPage-though I hated all the cruft it added-so back to Notepad, then EditPadPro as well as: Visual Interdev, Microsoft Visual Web Developer, and Microsoft Expression Web


      Now: Visual Studio/Visual Studio Code


    • dftf

      In reply to polloloco51:

      "Web Development [...]" -- you were never a Microsoft FrontPage or FrontPage Express person then (one of those classic Microsoft examples of two products with similar names that don't share a codebase, like Outlook Express and Microsoft Outlook!)


      "Chat ... Then: AOL IM". I really can't think of anyone I knew who used it, though clearly it was more-popular in some countries than others. In the UK, I did know a number of people who used Yahoo! Messenger, and it was great when Windows Live Messenger and YIM both made it so you could chat to people on either network (mid 2006). I doubt any of these IM networks still exist thesedays... though oddly the third-party clients that let you connect to multiple IM networks in one, like Pidgin and Trillian, still exist. So... no-idea what they do thesedays?

  7. darkgrayknight

    Wow, quite the list and I can remember most of these. I find that I still have to use some of the older ones due to having limits on what can be installed on the work computer (USDA government laptop).


    Office Suite: Microsoft 365 (glad to be away from Google's mess).


    File browser: File Explorer (I haven't even looked at other ones in quite some time).


    Media Player: Movies & TV for most things, VLC for anything not working on the first, then Windows Media Player on the work laptop (since the store is disabled).


    Anti-(virus/malware): Built in Windows Security

    Firewall: Built in Windows Firewall (plus whatever the router can do).

    CD Burning: Not really using anymore directly, so whatever is on the computers that still have a CD/DVD drive.

    Email: Outlook and web directly.

    File archive: Builtin Zip file, 7Zip where I can install it.

    Audio Editing: Audacity and Cakewalk (what was Sonar is now a free version)

    PDF client: Edge (Chromium). I used to use Foxit also.

    Virtualization: HyperV. I remember XP Mode and Virtual PC.

    Chat/IM/etc.: Teams, Skype, WhatsApp, and there were so many others: MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, AOL, ...

    FTP: rarely use any more, but EditPadPro has an option to load and save files via FTP.

    Remote Support: TeamViewer is preferred. I've used the built in one a few times, not always very easy. I do Remote Desktop to a variety of machines/servers regularly.


    • dftf

      In reply to darkgrayknight:

      Yeah, for a simple .ZIP file I will use Windows' own support, though it hasn't seen updates in years, and doesn't support passworded ZIPs thesedays. You'd think given 7-Zip is freeware, and the ability to extract a .RAR file is also, they could have expanded the archive-types File Explorer could natively handle by now!


      Hyper-V isn't an option on my Windows 10 Home device, otherwise I probably would try it. (It is essentially the modern equivalent of the old Virtual PC software.)


      We use Teams at work, though also have some staff on "Skype for Business Basic" as they connect to an internal Lync server (though will be migrated to O365 by the end of this year).


      FTP is rare for me too, though some sites still offer it, and the standard HTTP/HTTPS downloads seem to result in the download failing. Windows also still has FTP support built-into the Command Prompt, but I'd prefer a GUI solution. Fingers-crossed File Explorer won't drop support anytime-soon. (I might be wrong here, but in really-old versions of Windows, wasn't HyperTerminal was did your FTP?)

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