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Switch to Free Software while in Windows
If you're not willing to take the leap into free software cold-turkey, you can start by replacing just some of your Windows programs with free software equivalents. A lot of the free software which you can use in gNewSense is also available for both Windows and other GNU/Linux distributions. Some of the most commonly used free software applications available for Windows are listed below.
For a more detailed explanation of free software in Windows, see "Free Software for Windows".
GNU Emacs is a very powerful editor with syntax coloring, complete Unicode support and more.
Vim is (...almost) as powerful as GNU Emacs, but for different types of people.
Firefox, for browsing the web. You may be interested by wikipedia's article on IceCat, a fork of Firefox which removes links to non-free addons and plugins included in Firefox by default, which is the default web browser in gNewSense.
Blender, a 3D content creation suite,
the GIMP, a powerful Image Manipulation Program,
ImageMagick, a powerful command line image manipulation program,
Inkscape, a vector graphics editor.
VLC, a multimedia player, that plays most multimedias files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.
GNU Octave, a high-level language, primarily intended for numerical computations,
Maxima, a system for the manipulation of symbolic and numerical expressions.
Wikipedia has a page on Free Software alternatives to proprietary software.
Free Formats and Free Software
You must be aware that some formats, mostly multimedia formats, are closed and difficult to implement with free software. Such formats include:
flash, a widely used, but proprietary video format. There are two free software alternatives to read this format: gnash (developers' site) and swfdec (developers' site), which work relatively well but may fail on videos made using latest versions of flash. A summary of decisions taken by Adobe to "open" flash technology can be found on the gnashdev website.
An other concern is DRM, which are technologies to restrict the use of an audio, video or even document file, by forcing the user to use a given application to read what (s)he bought, and by limiting his (her) right to copy it wherever and with whoever (s)he wants. This kind of technology, often refered as "Digital Restriction Management" is also widely used by Standards publishers.
Be aware that those technologies may not work correctly, if ever, on gNewSense.
Switch to gNewSense
Once you're familiar with free software for doing whatever you want, it will be easy to switch to gNewSense. You first have to download and burn the CD image of gNewSense. After this, you can try gNewSense in live CD mode, and if you feel you are ready, install it on your computer.