Good software for writing Mandarin Chinese Characters?

The reason I say mandarin is because I would have to write pinyin with a normal English keyboard, I know characters mean the same thing wether it’s Cantonese, Mandarin, or Japanese.
Is there a reputable (free) download that will allow me to type in pinyin the tone number and just select the character? I have a compaq so the Macintosh downloads won’t work.
Please don’t answer this unless you have some experience in this area.

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