Some software developers, either working for large, well-known companies or new programmers seeking to build market recognition, offer superb software online at no cost. Here are nine programs that are worth downloading:

1. WinZip 8.0 (http://www.winzip.com/tucows). This is a “zip” program that will make it easier and faster to open up other programs that are downloaded. Unlike other zip programs, it comes in two modes, one of which (Wizard) is great for newcomers to the web.

2. Netscape Communicator 4.76 (http://www.netscape.com). Enables browsing of the web, eMailing, and the very popular “instant-messaging” capability.

3. RealPlayer 8 Basic (http://www.real.com). The most popular software for playing music online. More than 2,500 internet radio stations can be played through RealPlayer. It can play video, too. Also has a good search function that tracks video and audio.

4. Nullsoft Winamp 2.71 (http://www.winamp.com). Another music player. Works for CDs, MP3 files, and WAVs. Includes a sophisticated musical spectrum analyzer that enables students to modify downloaded music.

5. QuickTime Player 4.1.2 (http://www.apple.com/quicktime). Offers superior performance over RealPlayer in playing audio and video clips on Macintosh computers.

6. Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.05 (http://www.adobe.com). Necessary for viewing PDF files, which are the text-and-image files that look online the same as they would printed on paper.

7. TurboNote+ 4.3 (http://www.turbonote.com). This is a way to create online notes similar to the yellow sticky notes that have become ubiquitous in our lives. With this software, users can write notes to themselves and insert them in files, or send notes to others.

8. ACDSee 3.1 (http://www.acdsystems.com/english/products). Puts dozens or hundreds of graphics together into a single file of miniature “thumbnail” photos. This allows quick browsing so that a desired image can be found more easily. Also can manipulate images when they are moved to full size.

9. AOLpress 2.0 (http://www.aolpress.com). Simplified web-page design program.