The Download Blog

First Look video: Spyware Terminator

Spyware removal, real-time protection, and integrated antivirus for free? These compelling ingredients form the siren song of Spyware Terminator. Digging out spyware is the security tool's chief job description, but the application also adds real-time blocking and integrates the free ClamWin Antivirus tool at your behest. Spyware Terminator scans and zaps on three levels, and helps guard against malicious code swimming in through applications, system files, and the Internet.

Microsoft plug-in lets users try group search

Microsoft's Research group announced an Internet Explorer 7 plug-in called SearchTogether on Wednesday that turns Web searches into a group activity.

The plug-in lets people set up what amounts to search chat rooms, in which a group of people can jointly peruse search results. Users can chat, annotate specific results with comments, ratings, and recommendations. Members of a group also can return later to view the annotated search session.

It also lets people perform a "split search," in which results are divided among different users in separate browser tabs. Many hands make light work, as the saying … Read more

Pandora auditions desktop version of music service

Streaming-music service Pandora announced on Tuesday that it is testing out a beta version of a downloadable desktop application for Windows and Mac.

Until this point, Pandora had offered only Web-based music. A desktop application has been on the start-up's to-do list for some time, the blog post explained, and was also a common request from members.

The application is built using Adobe Integrated Runtime, or AIR, the Web-meets-desktop software that debuted in February and now powers a number of popular light applications like Twitter client Twhirl.

Pandora is ad-supported to handle the licensing fees that inevitably come from … Read more

Featured Freeware: IrfanView

This image viewer and editor is a longtime favorite, and with good reason: IrfanView is simple, fast, and free for individual use.

The program lets you make basic edits to images, as well as multiple media formats. You can cut and crop, apply batch conversions, add, sharpen, or blur effects, create panoramas, and change color modes easily. The program continues to add support for an array of file formats and has plug-in support for most image, video, and sound formats, including MP3, AVI, audio CD, and WMA. An IrfanView Thumbnails shortcut on the desktop offers an Explorer-like file … Read more

Yahoo Messenger goes big with new beta

On Friday, Yahoo released a new 9.0 beta version of the popular Yahoo Messenger chat client. The company may not have changed the version number at all, but it did add a boatload of new features and changes for those of us who like to play with software on the edge.

The most obvious change in the new release is an additional status message at the top of Messenger. Along with the conventional "Available," "Busy," and the like, there's now an additional line for Facebook-style status updates, such as "Surfing YouTube for Andy Rooney Game videos."

The other big change is larger emoticons. Since the Yahoo emoticons are likely the only reason I actually use Messenger instead of multiservice clients such as Trillian, Pidgin, or Digsby, I was very curious to see what these new emoticons looked like...and to learn if there are there any new ones!… Read more

Flock brings more under its wing

The latest Flock update for Windows and Mac introduces more services to its ever-growing list of options, as well as a battery of performance and stability enhancements.

Most notably, Pownce and Digg have been integrated as people services. If you're not familiar with the self-styled "social browser," this means that you can perform all Digg- and Pownce-related chores--sorry, that should be "tasks"--from within the browser's social-networking features. Support for AOL Webmail has also been added, letting you check that account as easily as your Gmail account.

There's still a long list of known bugsRead more

First Look video: IE7Pro

It may seem as if the whole world is using Firefox, but surveys indicate that nearly 75 percent of Netizens still use Internet Explorer. If you're part of that 75 percent, you need to check out this First Look video for the one plug-in you absolutely must have: IE7Pro.

IE7Pro powers up Internet Explorer with many of the features and functions that were once limited to other browsers, including a session manager, prefetching, and mouse gestures.

'Second Life' enters the world of mobile phones

Demanding a better-than-average processor, a 1024x768 screen resolution, a boatload of RAM, and a strong video card just to take part, it's hard to believe that Second Life, the virtual world developed by Linden Lab (download for Windows and Mac), could ever survive on a mobile phone.

Yet on Tuesday, Vollee, a 3G streaming services provider, began offering the free, open beta version of Second Life for 40 Wi-Fi-enabled and 3G cell phones with more handset compatibility coming soon. That means you, iPhone.

In Second Life Mobile, users will be able to fly and teleport all over the virtual … Read more

Featured Freeware: CCleaner

Although it lacks a few of the bells and whistles found in other PC-cleaning applications, this free program offers more than enough features to make it a worthy download. CCleaner's interface is logically designed and makes it easy to wipe away your tracks from Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera, from various Windows system areas, and from some third-party applications.

CCleaner doesn't support the large number of extraneous programs that some competitors do, but it can erase traces from such popular programs as Spybot - Search & Destroy and WinZip. CCleaner now offers secure file erasing along with a … Read more

Capture NX 2 takes aim at Adobe

There are a lot of image editors out there, but few of them are designed with professional photographers in mind, and even fewer are designed by photographers themselves. Capture NX 2 for Windows and Mac is one of those rare editors designed by professionals but is easy enough for hobbyists to use, and Nikon has just given it a major overhaul.

Available for purchase at $179.95 or upgrade at $109.95, the program introduces a revamped interface, closer integration with other Nikon programs such as View NX, and a battery of new tools that simplify and enhance the photo-editing … Read more