I had discovered, then forgotten about and then recently re-discovered an awesome Windows utility called “Ninite.” Ninite is a great program that automatically downloads and installs (and updates!) some of the most common Windows programs you’ll use. The list of programs it will handle for you is impressive, and is constantly growing by requests. Web browsers like Chrome and Firefox are on there, CD burning utils, free antivirus options, image editors like the Gimp and Paint.net, developer tools and so much more. Check out the full list on the Ninite website. You choose the programs you want by checking them off, then it will download a custom installer that works on autopilot. Keep in mind the screenshot to the right is just a small subset of all the programs it supports.
So why is it so awesome? It’s not just a simple mass-installer. It makes a few smart decisions for you. First off, it automatically says no to toolbars and other crapware some programs try to bundle. Second, it chooses the appropriate version of a program for you based on if you are running a 64bit or 32bit OS where applicable. Lastly, it will update all the update existing programs to their newest version. So not only is it great for setting up a new PC, but it’s great for mass updating those programs, something that’s not easy to do manually. Save your custom installer file and re-run it when you want it to check for updates, or create a new installer to maybe add some more apps and it will automatically check any old ones for updates. Yes, it even updates those programs installed without Ninite. The only downside, as far as I can see is that it doesn’t let you choose a custom install location, it puts all the applications in their default locations. For most people that won’t be an issue, but something to note for those who like to install stuff in odd locations.
If all this sounds great to you, check it out at ninite.com. Windows is the main platform, although they have a beta Linux version but sadly, no Mac version. Also available is a “Pro” version for enterprise management.