You’ve got a new computer, you’re eager to get it out of the box and take it for a test drive. There are very few feelings like it when you’re the resident nerd. Or, perhaps, you’ve just run into an insurmountable hitch with Windows, racked up a lot of clutter, or just got bored. The result of any of these likely scenarios is that you’ll have a fresh copy of Microsoft’s desktop OS in front of you.
Before you can really get your teeth into testing out your machine’s capabilities, though, you need to install some software. It’s a necessity, and it was one I personally met with dread, disdain and despair. It’s easy to sit there for literally hours locating all your favourite apps on the web, downloading and installing them. But, you’ll happy to know, there’s now a workaround that saves you a lot of time: Ninite.com.
What is Ninite and How Does it Work?
Put simply, Ninite.com is a web-based tool for aggregating many of the most popular freeware on the web for you to install on your PC, running any compatible version of Windows. It’s a tool bred out of sheer genius, and whilst the inner workings could be considered witchcraft by sceptics, the result is undeniably helpful.
The website itself consists of one main page, populated with a list of the popular apps, categorised much like an App Store – a layout that’s increasingly familiar to most of us – and each app is accompanied by a regular check box. All you need to do is simply go through the list of 92 applications and select the ones you want on your PC.
There’s a huge green button at the bottom of the list that’s labelled ‘Get Installer’. Hit that, and you’ll download a single executable file that will subsequently launch a batch installer and run through each of your selected programs one-by-one, migrating from the interwebs, onto your hard drive.
Obviously this has the primary advantage of speed, saving you the job of going to the website of each developer in turn and downloading each installer file separately. That sort of goes without saying, but there are a couple of other underlying benefits. Firstly, it allows you to go away and get on with something else whilst it’s happening, although that’s not to say you can’t carry on using your PC during the process, it behaves like any other installer, minus the distractions. Usually, you’d be taped to your seat waiting for one install to complete before you grab the next one. Time consuming, frustrating and mind-numbingly dull.
As well as that, and this is quite an important note for any sceptics of the service, Ninite will skip past all of the pesky prompts to install third-party toolbars and crapware on your PC, leaving you with only the application that you intended to install in the first place.
This does lead us onto a slight disadvantage, though, which you may run into. As Ninite bypasses the entire dialog aspect of the installation process, you will not be able to decide on an install location for your applications. They default to the customary ‘Program Files’ folder on your primary hard drive, which is typically the location of choice for applications, but if you’re someone who likes to be a little different with their storage, or a little bit inventive, then this isn’t for you.
The second and last point I’d like to make is not so much a disadvantage for the user, but for the company behind Ninite. It’s been well documented that Windows 8 will come packed with an App Store of its own. An App Store not subject to the insanely strict regulations imposed by Apple on its equivalents, so the majority of the apps found on Ninite, such as Evernote, CCleaner, Flash, Office and browsers, will find their way onto the Windows 8 App Store and more or less kill Ninite in one fell swoop. The concept of Ninite would be a neat addition to a standard App Store approach, though: being able to check off all the apps you want to download in bulk. That’s certainly something I’d like to see.
For now, though, get on Ninite when you find yourself with a fresh copy of Windows and save yourself a load of time you’d otherwise spend inanely clicking and typing into Google trying to find your applications. Go and get a coffee or something, you’ll thank me Ninite.