What is Free Software?
Philosophy of the Free Software movement
Opera (especially recommended if your laptop is tethered to a phone, as the Opera Turbo feature will reduce your data usage)
Recommended Browser Extensions:
Adblock Plus (with Malware and Tracking filters turned on)
LibreOffice - LibreOffice is a complete office suite (word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, etc.) produced using a free open source license. LibreOffice is based on OpenOffice, the differences being that it has a faster development schedule and more advanced features.
Foxit PDF Reader - Views and creates PDF files, and also allows text editing of a PDF (handy for forms).
Video and Music Players:
VLC Video Player - Plays everything. All codecs built-in.
TuneIn.com - TuneIn Radio. Anything you want to listen to is here.
Set up Google DNS, install a free anti-virus for real-time scanning, and run the rest intermittently as on-demand backup security. In Windows 8/10, the built-in Windows Defender anti-virus provides basic protection, for other versions install Microsoft Security Essentials for basic protection. Alternately, Panda Free Antivirus is also very good. A lot of security from viruses and malware simply involves using common sense when installing software and not blindly clicking on buttons on websites.
Google Public DNS
Panda Free Antivirus
F-Secure Online Virus Scanner and Cleaner
VeraCrypt - Encrypts your hard drive.
StartPage - Secure, privacy-enhanced Google search.
CyberGhostVPN - encrypt and anonymize your Internet connection.
Tor Browser Bundle - Makes your Internet traffic private and untraceable.
StickyPassword - Password manager.
LastPass - Online password manager.
Clipperz - Online anonymous password management.
GuerillaMail - provides disposable temporarily-valid e-mail addresses to avoid spam.
Signal Private Messenger - Encryption for your phone.
Classic Shell - restores the Start button to Windows 8.