Archive for March, 2008

The Best Free Software  


We did the math: If you bought popular apps instead of trying their gratis counter-parts, at the manufacturers’ list prices you’d be out $5,183 and change! Why spend money when you can get what you need for nothing? Sometimes, you do get what you don’t pay for.

Hall of Fame

Adobe Reader
Windows | MacOS | Linux | Mobile This simplest of Adobe’s PDF programs lets you do just about anything PDF-related (besides create new ones), including online collaboration. It includes a host of features to aid users with disabilities.

Windows | MacOS | Linux | Web One of the most widely used pieces of free software ever, AOL Instant Messenger offers a ton of capabilities.
Read our full review of AIM 6.5.

Windows | MacOS | Linux Whether you’re recording or editing, Audacity is all about audio in practically any format.

Windows | MacOS | Linux This PC Mag Editors’ Choice Web browser has been on top of the heap since version 1.5 came out in late 2005. Read our full review of Firefox 2.0.

Windows | MacOS | Linux The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) does most of what Photoshop does; the Gimpshop project ( even makes it look like Photoshop. Read our full review of The GIMP 2.0.

Windows | MacOS When you’re attached to the top media player in the land (iPod), success is a given. iTunes continues to build sales and refine its organization of songs, video, games, podcasts, and more. Read our full review of Apple iTunes 7.6.
Windows | MacOS | Linux You can spend a lot for Microsoft Office or nothing for this suite with full-function word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentations, even an equations editor. Read our full review of 2.3.

Windows | MacOS | Linux You’ll pay to call regular phones, but if you sign up all your friends, Skype provides easy (and even international) calls and video-conferencing for nothing. Read our full review of Skype 3.0.

Windows | MacOS | Linux Mozilla’s no-cost e-mail alternative is extensible, fast, and easy to master. And a wealth of free add-ons means there’s not much this program won’t do, from calendars to encryption. Read our full review of Thunderbird 2.

Linux This Linux-based OS comes with many of these Hall of Fame products (Firefox, preinstalled.

Windows After a decade of playing music, the “skinnable” WinAmp has several versions, including one with full CD ripping and burning.

for full details, click here…


GeForce 9600 GT Graphics Card Review

This is a pretty good time for PC gamers, especially when it comes to graphics cards. With two impressive products like the GeForce 8800 GT and Radeon HD 3870, gamers can see some solid performance in high-end DX9 games and playable performance in DX10 games without spending a fortune. In fact, it would only cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $250.
But $200 is somewhat of a “hard ceiling” for many PC owners. Sure they want to play some games, and they want them to look good and run well. But they don’t have 24-inch widescreen monitors, they don’t have superfast quad-core processors, and they can’t yet justify spending more than $200 for a graphics card. The sub-$200 market is big, and the GeForce 8600-based products simply weren’t cutting it anymore—not with the truly excellent Radeon HD 3850 coming in at well under $200 and blowing away the competition in that price range.

Finally we have Nvidia’s answer, the GeForce 9600 GT. Based on the G94 chip, it is quite similar to the G92-based GeForce 8800 GT. The most striking difference is the reduction in shader units comes down to 64. But with aggressive clock speeds and a 256-bit memory interface, it is otherwise a very robust card.

Today we review EVGA’s “SSC” version of the GeForce 9600 GT, a factory-overclocked version that should give gamers on a budget a reason to smile.

Full details, Click Here…

Microsoft recently released a list of programs that break or lose functionality under Windows Vista SP1 (CLICK HERE). SP1 has been released to manufacturing, but is not yet generally available to the public.

There’s so much Windows software out there in the world that undoubtedly some has not been tested and some of that untested software will have problems with SP1. But, all things considered, the list is remarkably short, and all but 2 of the 11 programs listed have newer versions available that work under SP1.

One of the two problem programs, Novell ZENworks 10 Configuration Management, will have SP1 support in version 10.1.0, currently expected to be released in the first half of 2008. The other program, Free Allegiance 2.1 (“a free, online, multi-player space simulation game”), has a problem (so the vendor claims) because they build their executable with the Xenocode obfuscator in order to protect the binary. They await a new version of Xenocode that works better with SP1.

Perhaps other apps built with Xenocode will have similar problems, but there’s no hard evidence of that. As millions of real users get SP1 in several weeks you can expect the list to grow.

SEATTLE – Microsoft Corp said on Thursday it plans to cut prices of its Windows Vista operating system sold at retail outlets in a move aimed at pushing customers to switch to the newest version of Windows.The world’s largest software maker said it plans to lower retail prices for Vista in 70 countries later this year in tandem with the shipment of the first major update to Vista, known as Service Pack 1 (SP1).

Packaged versions of Windows Vista sold at stores and on the Web account for less than 10 percent of all licenses of the dominant Windows operating system that sits on more than 90 percent of the world’s personal computers.

Most consumers opt to buy a new PC, which comes preloaded with the latest version of Windows.

“We anticipate these changed will provide greater opportunities … to sell more stand-alone copies of Windows,” said Brad Brooks, a Microsoft corporate vice president.

In the United States, Microsoft will reduce prices for Windows Vista Ultimate, the company’s top-end operating system, to $319 from $399 for the full version and cut the price for an “upgrade” version to $219 from $259 for consumers who already run Windows XP or another edition of Vista.

It also cut prices for upgrade versions of Vista Home Premium, its mainstream product, to $129 from $159. The price cuts vary by country.

In emerging markets, Microsoft will stop selling “upgrade” versions of Vista, because, for many customers, it will be the first purchase of a genuine copy of Windows. The company will instead sell Vista Home Premium and Home Basic, a stripped-down version, at the upgrade prices.

Microsoft has sold more than 100 million licenses of Vista since its January 2007 release and its adoption has underpinned strong earnings results at the company in recent quarters.

Nonetheless, some consumers have raised issues with Vista’s performance, stringent hardware requirement and lack of support for other software and devices like printers. Microsoft said it would continue to sell Windows XP until June 2008, delaying a scheduled transition to Vista.

Brooks, who oversees consumer marketing of Vista, said he is confident the company can bring in enough new customers to offset the revenue declines from lowering prices after seeing the results of a recent three-month promotional trial of lower Vista prices.

The announcement comes on the heels of sales data that showed a 30 percent drop in money spent for software at U.S. retailers in January, according to market research firm NPD.

Microsoft said the announcement is unrelated to the sales data, which the company said could be a result of inventory build-up after the holiday shopping season.

Copyright Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.