Set Up and Get to Know Your New Windows PCAfter years of struggling with your old, sluggish Windows PC, you’ve finally unwrapped a shiny new computer. Here’s how to get started tweaking your settings, installing programs, and beefing up security to keep it running like a dream.

Title image remixed from an original by Air0ne (Shutterstock).

Before you do anything, there are a few things you’ll want to set up first:

Install Some Killer Programs

Set Up and Get to Know Your New Windows PC

Now that you’re computer’s secure, speedy, and looking awesome, it’s time to install some great software. Here are a few places you can find our favorite Windows programs.

  • Lifehacker Pack for Windows: Our List of the Best Free Windows DownloadsLooking for the best programs to keep you connected, get you organized, and amp up your productivity? Our annual Lifehacker Pack has a one-package installer for all our favorite Windows software.
  • Superior Alternatives to Crappy Windows Software—Before you go downloading Adobe Reader, iTunes, and the other “default” programs that everyone uses, check out our list of alternatives to crappy Windows software. You might be surprised at what other options are out there.
  • Most Popular Free Windows Downloads of 2011Apart from our list of essential programs, there are also some really neat pieces of software we’ve featured over the past year. If you want to know the cool programs everyone’s talking about, our 2011 list of the most popular free Windows downloads and tweaks is the place to look.
  • 50 Free Apps We’re Most Thankful ForThis Thanksgiving, you guys voted on the best free apps around. They’re not all Windows downloads (though many are cross-platform), and it’s a list to be reckoned with—so if you’ve still got a few holes after checking out the Pack and most popular, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for here.

Adjust Settings and Tweak Your System

Set Up and Get to Know Your New Windows PC

While we’ve already done a handy list of the top 10 things to do with a new Windows 7 system, here are some of the other things you might want to check out to customize your new PC.

We hope these tips have helped you get your computer up, running, and customized just the way you like it. If you’re already a Windows veteran and you’ve got some tips that we haven’t mentioned, be sure to share them with us in the comments.