Freeware Friday: Non-Retina edition

Access Mountain Lion features on a Windows PC.

This was a big week for Apple and fans of the MacBook and OS X lineup. But if you have Windows, you might realize that many of the upcoming features for Mountain Lion have already been readily available in some way or form. For this week's Freeware Friday, check out the following apps to access voice control, sync chats with your phone, set reminders, and more.


Dictation alternative:
Speech-powered computing might seem like a radical new implementation for many Mac users with the upcoming Mountain Lion, but both Windows and Mac users have had access to voice-control options well before even Kinect came around. In Windows 7, users can enable Speech Recognition to control their computer tasks by vocalizing various commands. Speech Recognition also learns to improve its recognition of your voice by developing a detailed profile of your speech as you use it. To set up speech recognition:

  1. Click the Start button, then go to the Control Panel.
  2. Click Ease of Access Center, and then click "Use the computer without a mouse or keyboard."
  3. Select Use Speech Recognition, then Set up Microphone and follow onscreen instructions.

Check out this list of common commands you can dictate to Windows. Talking to a PC doesn't seem so crazy anymore now, does it?


iMessage alternative:
The upcoming iMessage finally brings enhancements for seamless transition between devices for chatting and browsing the Web by unifying your Apple ID and phone number. But Android and Google users have had this feature available not just for Windows users, but Mac users as well. If you have a Google account, your chats can sync across your devices no matter where you are.

Google Talk brings your chat conversations from your phone directly to your PC so that you can continue from where you left off. In addition, Google Talk also triggers notifications when you receive e-mails with a slide-up note in your taskbar. It may not be as slick as a dedicated interface for push notifications, but it'll get the job done.


Reminders alternative:
NotifyMe is a full-featured notification tool for Windows. You can customize reminders by setting a time or countdown, display images with text, and even edit how long the message will linger before it disappears. You can also set custom sound effects for each note if you want to add a little variety to your push notes. For example, I have my notification sound to be a "Hadoken" sound clip from Street Fighter.


iCloud alternative:
Chrome already has a slew of built-in cloud features that allow you to call up all your saved bookmarks and even communicate with your phone. When you sign in to Chrome, all your saved bookmarks will appear on any computer in the bookmarks tab. Through the Chrome to Phone extension, you can directly send links from your PC to your Android device as well for on-the-go mobile viewing. Combined with the Google Apps suite of Docs, Spreadsheets, and online storage via Google Drive with drag-and-drop support, there's plenty of ways to get your work done on the go if you're a road warrior.


Though many of these aren't integrated solutions, do you think it'd cover all your needs? What would you like to see different from Microsoft, especially with the upcoming Windows 8? Leave a comment below!

 

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