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The Best Software of 2009

Pardon me, has anyone seen 2009? It was here a minute ago. (Wait, let me check under the couch cushions... nope.)

Well, we can't let a year come to a close without remembering what made it special. And to kick things off, here's our list of the year's best software.

It's mostly freeware, I'm happy to say, because the last thing anyone wanted to do in 2009 was spend extra money.

In no particular order:

  • Fences Now a permanent resident on every PC I own, Fences organizes desktop icons into groups. It's a simple, elegant solution that's so handy, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it -- and why you ever let your desktop get so cluttered. Incredibly, it's a freebie.
  • Wizmouse One of my favorite Windows utilities ever, Wizmouse enables your mouse's scroll wheel to work in whatever window is under your cursor. That may not sound like a big deal, but it saves a ton of unnecessary clicking. I'd pay for this software -- but luckily I don't have to: It's free.
  • Genie Timeline My description of the perfect backup solution: one that works automatically, in the background, and in real-time, archiving your data all day, every day, as you work. That's Genie Timeline in a nutshell. It's normally $34.95, but you can get it for $27.96 by using coupon code HOL2009 at checkout.
  • Microsoft Security Essentials I said it before, and I'll say it again: Against all odds, Microsoft's new anti-virus utility doesn't suck. Quite the opposite: It's fast, effective, blissfully non-intrusive -- and free! Paired with Windows' other built-in security tools, it's all most users need.
  • Lazarus This Firefox add-on solves one of life's most infuriating problems: loss of form data due to a browser crash, errant click, or the like. I can't count the number of times Lazarus has saved my bacon.
  • Windows 7 Aw, come on, you knew this had to make the list. Call it Vista 2.0 if you must, but the plain truth is that Windows 7 offers the best computing experience of any OS. It's not perfect, by any stretch, but it has the best security of any version of Windows to date, plus features that can boost your productivity.
Okay, those are our picks. Now let's hear yours! Hit the comments and tell us which software made your 2009 easier, faster, or more productive.