The Download Blog

What Chrome means for Microsoft

Aiming to react quickly to Google's Chrome announcement, Microsoft focused on how Chrome stacks up against Internet Explorer.

"The browser landscape is highly competitive, but people will choose Internet Explorer 8 for the way it puts the services they want right at their fingertips, respects their personal choices about how they want to browse and, more than any other browsing technology, puts them in control of their personal data online," Internet Explorer General Manager Dean Hachamovitch said in a statement.

Hopefully for Redmond, though, it recognizes this as far more than an attack on Internet Explorer 8. … Read more

Google Chrome: Browser competition back in high gear

Google Chrome is a warning shot over the bows of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.

The open-source software project, to be detailed later Tuesday at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., should dispel any lingering thoughts that the browser wars are over. To be sure, it's less cutthroat now than in the 1990s, but one of technology's most powerful companies is now on the battlefield.

So how does Chrome change the competitive landscape?

Initially at least, it's not likely to change the market share rankings. According to Net Applications' browser market share statistics for August, … Read more

Revamped Google Picasa site identifies photo faces

Google wants to help you put a name to that face.

With a face recognition feature set to launch at noon PDT Tuesday, Google's Picasa Web Albums will help users label their photos with the names of subjects. That and other changes to the photo-sharing site are joined by a new beta version of the accompanying Picasa 3.0 photo-editing software.

The "name tag" feature presents users with collections of photos with what it judges to be the same person, then lets them click a button to affix a name. Once photographic subjects are named, users can … Read more

Featured Freeware: Quintessential Player

Other players may receive more attention, but it's hard to beat Quintessential Player's efficiency, stability, and flexibility. Easily customizable and built to support almost any plug-in, this freeware tool also has a fine video player. CD-ripping and MP3-converting features increase the program's value without bloat.

The stylish interface includes a lot of sensibly set hot keys, making playback and music management a no-click affair. It also is completely skinnable, with plenty of designs created by a large community of developers and fans. The extremely helpful Quintessential Player Web site provides a library of optional tools and full … Read more

Google 'starting from scratch' with own browser, Chrome

Update at 2:36 p.m. PDT: It's official: Google Chrome will be available Tuesday.

Word surfaced Monday of a Web "comic book" introducing Google Chrome, the search giant's long-rumored open-source browser project. While the illustrations, created by cartoonist Scott McCloud, were not announced by Google, they do contain the quotes and likenesses of 19 Google developers.

The detailed, 38-page comic appeared on Google Blogoscoped, an unofficial Google blog. Update: The comic is now available on Google Book Search. The book is broken down into five main sections covering stability; speed; search and the user experience, … Read more

Featured Freeware: Blocksum

A simple-looking block-building game, Blocksum differs in a few regards from other Tetris clones. First, the blocks rise from the bottom, instead of falling from the top. When they fill up the screen to the top, your game is over. Second, instead of matching colors or shapes, you are matching numbers, and a heck of a lot of them. The result is a frenetic and unique puzzle game that will appeal to those with serious Tetris and counting skills.

There aren't any instructions in the game, so you'll have to figure it out for yourself. Here's some … Read more

Featured Freeware: DC++

Part community and mostly file sharing, DC++ occupies an unusual niche in the P2P game. Unlike torrents, which are direct peer connections, or centralized networks like LimeWire, DC++ manages connections to hubs. Most hubs are built around an interest, such as science fiction or movies. From there, you can chat and share files with other peers who are connected to the same hub.

However, many hubs place restrictions on connections to ensure that users are devoting their attention to the hub. The number of hubs you can connect to depends on how many Upload share slots you give, and you … Read more

Featured Freeware: WirelessKeyView

This utility is absolutely utilitarian, and may strike users accustomed to a bit of visual flash and bang or superfluous features as being sparse. However, WirelessKeyView does precisely what it promises, and every additional feature builds on the central purpose.

The main feature lets you view the passwords your Wi-Fi manager has stored, useful if you've forgotten what they are. The spreadsheet-style main window shows the properties on any stored network name. Users can view not just the ASCII password, but also the Hex key, the adapter type, and the adapter GUID. If you want to copy any of … Read more

iPhone apps of the week

Apple's iPhone App Store grows every day with new free and paid offerings. The lion's share of apps (and clearly the most popular) have been games, now with 626 digital time wasters at the time of this writing. I check the App Store almost every day for new stuff--mostly in the free category, but I've also bought my share of iPhone apps, too.

What do I look for? To be honest, I like it all--from the completely useless, but funny programs to the legitimately useful everyday apps. When I sift through the various lists of apps on … Read more

Earn your bandwidth black belt

Comcast has thrown down the bandwidth gauntlet. Starting in October, Comcast broadband users will be restricted to 250GB worth of downloads per month. When asked whether the cable company was planning on offering a bandwidth meter to customers, a Comcast representative stated that it hopes to, eventually, but until then Google would be a nice place to find one.

So, I've come up with a list of free bandwidth monitoring software for Windows and Mac that should tide you over until Verizon brings some Fios action to your hood.

First off, let's look at BitMeter. When running, it … Read more