We're nearing the end of this little feature, but having gone through a massive range of software it ought to be clear that for most people there's always a free and often excellent alternative to commercially available software. We've stuck to particular categories, but there are plenty of other tremendously useful little applications that don't drop into any particular area.
For PDF reading, Foxit Reader is a faster and lighter alternative to Adobe's own effort, while the open source PDF Creator is a useful little application for those that need to regularly convert documents to PDF. If you handle a lot of archive files, your first port of call should be ZipGenius. It handles pretty much every format under the sun, with no limitations.
If you're interested in recording a podcast, Audacity is your best bet. It's free, it's well featured and thanks to the large community surrounding it, it's well supported too. For video encoding, VirtualDub remains a firm favourite and we still use it as a benchmark. It isn't the most user friendly program, but if you want something powerful and fast then there's little better.
Also featured in our security feature was CCleaner, a wonderful tool for keeping your system running efficiently. It will remove the detritus left behind by Windows and other applications, as well as cleaning up the Registry, removing keys left behind by uninstalled programs.
As you might have guessed by now, we could go on indefinitely. There's just so much out there, so if you're ever in a bind there's a good chance a quick search may come up with a program that can solve your specific problem. We hope enjoyed this little adventure into the world of wonderfully free things, and if you have any suggestions of your own feel free to share them.