Mozilla Thunderbird is the Best EMail Program
Version to use: 1.02
Hailing from the old Netscape Mail component, Mozilla Thunderbird brings a stable, powerful, and full featured mail client. The two biggest topics in email these days are spam and viruses. Thunderbird includes a "junk mail" filter that is very accurate: it marks most spam as such and very little "ham" gets marked as spam. Plus, it learns as it works and you "teach" it. By being based on the more secure Mozilla html engine, Thunderbird isn't susceptible to all of the virii that target the Internet Explorer based engines of Outlook and Outlook Express.
iTunes is the best music player/ripper
Version to use:4.7 EDITI'm not sure which version to recommend - new versions offer podcasts but take away from your ability to use the media to the full extent of the fair use provisions. That's lame. Songbird is probably going to be my new favorite, as soon as it's released. Sign up for their mailing list and you can be in on releases, too.
IrfanView is the best basic image manipulation program
Version to use: 3.95
Most cameras include their own software and there are many other "album" and editing programs out there. They all suck. IrfanView provides a simple interface, includes things like a powerful batch image convert/rename program that can pull EXIF data. You can also use it to make slideshows. And of course it includes all the basic things like rotating images. Basically, it's awesome.
Version to use: 1.2.0 (though they update often, I may be out of date here...)