Windows 8 is coming soon, bringing with it a snazzy new look with lots of animation and visual effects. For a preview of some of what it will bring to your desktop, try Aero QLaunch. As a program, it's prosaic: just another freeware quick-launch toolbar for the desktop. As a desktop enhancement, it's anything but subtle, adding some dazzling 3D fireworks to an updated theme based on the new look of Windows 8. Aero QLaunch is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. As part of the setup process, Aero QLaunch downloaded and installed the latest applicable version of … Read more
Notepad2's developer, Flo's Freeware, notes that there's nothing wrong with Notepad, the default text editor in Windows: it's lightweight, fast, and fully integrated with the operating system. But writers, programmers, and others who use text files a lot know that Notepad has its limitations. Notepad2 offers many more features than Notepad and can replace it as the default text file tool in Windows. It's available in separate downloads for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows. We tried it in 64-bit Windows Home Premium SP1.
Notepad2's installer asked us if we wanted to replace Notepad … Read more
CyberLink PowerDirector 10 is a feature-packed video editor that boasts some serious improvements over its previous iteration. With its revamped TrueVelocity engine and OpenCL support, it makes editing and rendering a bit speedier than before. Plus, it's got built-in 3D support.
As for the basics, PowerDirector can import and handle most of the video file types you would normally come across. You can also use it to easily add text, effects, and transitions; edit audio; capture video; burn discs; and share content online. Plus, it has intuitive, icon-based navigation and ample thumbnails, making it quite easy to zip around … Read more
Windows 8 will include Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization tool in an effort to attract developers, IT pros, and other users who need to run, test, or support virtual environments.
Describing the move in the latest edition of the "Building Windows 8" blog, Mathew John, a program manager on Microsoft's Hyper-V team, noted that Hyper-V has previously been available only in recent server-based editions of Windows, making Windows 8 the first client OS to include the feature.
Virtualization tools such as Hyper-V allow users to run multiple operating systems and environments on the same machine. That's helpful … Read more
Mozilla has begun turning the Firefox crank faster with a rapid-release development cycle. So what's in store now that we can expect a new version every six weeks?
A lot, including 64-bit support on Windows and a plan to reduce the open-source browser's memory usage. But the most far-reaching change probably is a project called Electrolysis that splits Firefox into multiple somewhat-independent processes.
Electrolysis holds the potential to improve responsiveness, smooth graphics performance, take better advantage of multicore processors, and tighten security. Mozilla already added one Electrolysis element to Firefox 3.6--the separation of plug-ins to their own … Read more
Windows sometimes encounters an unusual or compressed file it can't open, though its offer to search for the correct program has been known to provoke groans. The antacid to this heartburn is a good third-party file-management utility, one that can decompress a wide variety of zipped files as well as copy, split, join, compare, verify, and delete files. Extras like secure password and key file creation, strong encryption, and hash and checksum generators would be welcome in such a tool. We'd like it to run in 64-bit editions of Windows and integrate with Explorer's right-click menus. Last … Read more
FastCopy (64-bit) is a slim but powerful freeware file-copying utility for 64-bit Windows editions. It can copy large files at close to the hardware-defined read/write limit without hogging system resources. To that end, it uses few system resources itself, and it doesn't use MFC or any OS caches. It automatically selects one of two copying methods, depending on whether the destination directory is on the same hard disk or a different disk as the source directory. When source and destination are the same, the program writes to a buffer that can be configured via a slider on the … Read more
Windows 7 is four to five times less vulnerable to malware infections than is Windows XP.
Those are the findings of Microsoft's latest Security Intelligence Report (PDF), which detailed in depth the state of software vulnerabilities, exploits, security breaches, and malware in 2010.
Overall, the study found that infection rates for newer Microsoft operating systems with the latest service packs are consistently lower than those for older OSes, giving Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 the highest marks for security.
Looking at the number of reported infections per 1,000 computers, Microsoft found that Windows 7 64-bit had … Read more
Software that synchronizes the contents of two or more folders is a great idea that usually comes up short somewhere, such as an inability to access a network or enter passwords or one-way synching that tracks updates in one folder but not the other. Allway Sync (64-bit) is a free tool that analyzes the contents of two folders simultaneously and updates both based on the latest content in either. But instead of simply copying the latest content based on time signatures, Allway Sync's bidirectional algorithm analyzes the content for actual changes, so even if system clocks are out of … Read more
Axantum's AxCrypt (64-bit) is a powerful encryption utility for 64-bit editions of Windows. It not only encrypts and decrypts files but also adds file renaming, password protection, key-file generation, and secure delete. AxCrypt integrates with Explorer, so you only need to right-click a file and select AxCrypt from the file's context menu. Better still, it's freeware.
Since AxCrypt runs automatically with Windows and integrates with Explorer, there's no separate program interface, though a Start Menu folder offers links to documentation and registration pages as well as an uninstallation utility. We right-clicked a random folder and selected … Read more