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I used to use vTask Studio, but it seems they've abandoned it. No updates in almost a year.

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Whenever you ask "what is the best tool", you can expect to receive a long list of "my favorite thing" responses. But without real. well-understood requirements, there's no assurance anyone else's favorite has any value in your shop. –  Joe Strazzere Jun 17 '11 at 19:11
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Aaron, has your question been answered? Or would you like to elaborate more for a more accurate answer? –  Chris Kenst Sep 24 '12 at 3:35

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Windows has the built in Windows Automation API available. Depending on what you want to do, it could get a little hairy using the APIs. The TestAPI project has some nice wrappers around UIAutomation to simplify the model.

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+1 TestApi is a nice little framework. –  Alan Jun 10 '11 at 17:34

You can try Sikuli. It is a image recognition tool that you can script it with Python. If the product that you are testing is fairly stable in terms of UI, then it will be a good tool to use.

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SIKULI is outstanding for WPF work as it doesn't rely on any window IDs/classes/HREFs based methods that can quickly become unstuck when testing a WPF app. It has also got the added advantage of being completely independent of the Visual Studio and the .NET environment, which is a good thing when it comes to independent testing. –  dodgy_coder Nov 16 '11 at 8:00
    
+1 to Sikuli, is very good one. –  Alexei Vinogradov Sep 23 '12 at 19:08

I use WinTask. I'm very happy with it. I've used AutoIT in the past, and I know lots of folks who still do.

If you refine your requirements beyond (cheap, Windows GUI), you may get more precise answers.

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I use Perl with Win32 Modules to do my System Administration. Also, Perl allows you to run some of the task as services, which is very handy.

Also, you would learn a lot by doing. It also depends on your requirements, learning curve and flexibility in picking up a new framework all together.

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I haven't used it myself because I wrote my own UIAutomation library, but White is an open source project from Thoughtworks that should do exactly what you are after they support Win32, WinForms, WPF, Silverlight and SWT (Java) platforms.

For an IDE you can use Visual Studio C# Express, which is free for even commercial use. It lacks unit testing as an integrated feature so you would need to use something like xUnit as a test runner.

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I have been using Macro Scheduler for about 9 months and have been able to do everything I have needed to do. (Automated testing of CADCAM software) I had used them previously with a different company and had great results there too.

They have an absolutely fantastic forums/support site. All messages get answered and its not uncommon to get multiple answers. The experienced users are vey willing to help newbies get up to speed.

Prices start at $100 USD. Trial downloads available.

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You could try Automa. It's a young product and thus very reasonably priced in comparison to other tools on the market. It lets you use simple commands such as

start("notepad")
click("File", "Save")
write("Hello World", into="File name").

Its unique advantage is that it's very non-technical: Unlike other tools, it doesn't require knowing application-internal ids such as "textfield1234" or using tons of waitFor-commands. Like Sikuli, it also supports image recognition.

Disclaimer: I'm one of Automa's developers.

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Looks interesting, I'm giving it a try in the next days. Thank you. –  Alessandro Da Rugna Jan 9 '13 at 8:15

Cobra is Free Software to automate any app (which are accessibility enabled) on Windows XP SP3 / Windows 7 / Windows 8. Open sourced by VMware Inc. LDTP is also cross platform GUI automation tool, for more information check http://ldtp.freedesktop.org

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Seems you are the creator/owner ? Can you make your connection with the tool clear ? –  Phil Kirkham Oct 31 '12 at 3:12
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Welcome to SQA @nagappan_alagappan - seems like you're the maintainer of this open source project? Helps to say so, until I spotted the open source bit it was setting off my spam antennae. Also it's nice to know when someone's posting about a tool they know really well - because they wrote it. We've got a few members of SQA who fall into that category. Hope you'll stick around to answer any questions folk have about using the tool! –  testerab Oct 31 '12 at 23:58
    
Great to see an interest ! I will be happy to answer any question on this. I'm the author of Cobra / LDTP, which works on Mac and Linux, with all major language supports for writing the test. Thanks –  NAGAPPAN ALAGAPPAN Nov 1 '12 at 6:47

+1 more tool found today Approval Tests - https://github.com/approvals/ApprovalTests.Net

Approval Tests can be used for verifying objects that require more than a simple assert. They also come prepackaged with utilities for some common .Net scenarios including

Dictionaries & Collections, Long Strings, Log Files, Asp.Net, Asp.Net Mvc, Winforms, Wpf Entity Framework, Rdlc reports

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Simple or Complex GUI Testing can be done with MurGee Auto Mouse Clicker. It does have free trial and requires a licence fee of $5.00. Can automate various types of mouse clicking, keyboard typing and other stuff.

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If you have a connection to the product (e.g. you work for MurGee), you should mention this in your answer. –  testerab Oct 1 '12 at 21:00

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