The Download Blog

Microsoft boosts support for rival formats in Office

Microsoft is opening up Office to other file formats, slowly but steadily.

On Wednesday, the company said it plans to add new formats to Office 2007, including the OpenDocument Format (ODF), Portable Document Format (PDF), and XML Paper Specification (XPS). The new formats will be added to Office as part of Service Pack 2 for Office 2007, due in the first half of next year.

ODF, a rival document format to Office's native format, has become popular with governments and schools. Microsoft, acknowledging requests for compatibility with ODF, released a converter to allow Word users to open documents saved … Read more

Mozilla: Final Firefox 3 expected in June

Firefox fans looking for a major update to the open-source Web browser probably will get a final version of it next month.

"We're looking for final ship sometime in June," said Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla's vice president of engineering, in an interview Wednesday. Mozilla, which was spun out of AOL more than 10 years ago, oversees the Firefox programming project.

One of the Firefox's strengths is the broad collection of hundreds of add-ons, but that also means things move more slowly when programmers must update their projects to be compatible with Firefox 3. And that's … Read more

Quick Tips: Color your BlackBerry trackball

There's a not-so-secret secret that BlackBerry Pearl owners in the know have been using to impress the socks off those astute enough to notice the glowing neon ball at the center of the handset. And that it isn't glowing white.

The trick is owed to a little software application called ColorPearl, which beams out multihued lights from RIM's famous navigation pearl by taking advantage of...well, we don't want to spoil the plot. Tune into this Quick Tip video from CNET Producer Randall Bennett to see the amazing Technicolor sphere in action.

Opera's new software kit beckons to widget developers

Wednesday's beta release of a software development kit for Opera widgets brings the Norwegian company one step closer to its lofty goal of world browser domination.

Opera Software if offering the SDK for widget authors to deploy their Web applications on the spectrum of devices that support the Opera browser.

The Opera widget SDK was designed on W3C standards to support CSS, JavaScript, Ajax, and HTML languages. The kit itself contains an emulator, libraries, and documentation full of nuggets on best development practices. Along with the emulator, developers may find the included Opera Dragonfly debugging tool most useful; though … Read more

Get the low-down on the sites you visit with CallingID

I used to think the last thing I needed was another browser toolbar. But now I gladly sacrifice a little screen real estate to find out who owns the sites I visit, where they're located, and whether they pass muster with the security checkers.

That's what you get with CallingID, an add-on for Internet Explorer and Firefox that adds a multi-hued toolbar to the browsers. Along with use of green, yellow, and red to signify the site's safety, the toolbar shows the owner and location of the site.

Whenever you attempt to enter a name and password … Read more

Featured Freeware: Free FLV Converter

Lightweight and effective, Free FLV Converter is a great way to convert video files from Flash formats into something more versatile. Specializing in formats meant for portable devices, Free FLV Converter also supports AVI and can download embedded SWF or FLV vids directly from the Internet when you punch in the URL.

The app can also perform local searches for vids as well as convert to FLV. Hitting either conversion tab will automatically open a file browser so you can choose your victim. From there, a conversion window opens, and you can change the basics such as settings, including output … Read more

Firefox 3? Not yet

Mozilla surprised us a bit with an unexpected release of the first release candidate for Firefox 3 last weekend. It's a likely sign that the official release is nigh.

When will that be? You already know the answer: "When it's ready." My best guess is sometime in the late afternoon, either this month or next.

That said, Release Candidate 1 is going to be close enough to the final version of Firefox 3 that you won't notice any significant differences...until of course, you check your add-ons--extensions and themes. A large number might be incompatible with RC1.

However, let's cut the developers some slack. If an extension is compatible with Firefox 3 beta 5, it will be compatible with RC1 shortly. There's some frantic updating that's likely happening right now. However, if you like Tab Mix Plus a lot (which I do), you might be waiting a bit.

The lack of a few of your favorite extensions and likely all of your favorite themes doesn't mean you shouldn't upgrade to Firefox 3 right now, especially if you're a Web developer (duh), or if you regularly use Web-based Javascript applications such as Gmail frequently.… Read more

First Look video: Dream Aquarium Screensaver

If you're the kind of clenched-up stresser who finds it hard to relax, invest in an aquarium. Watching the fishies swim by is a peaceful, soothing pastime, experts say. But are you really going to cart the whole operation into the office? Roll up your sleeves to siphon mucky water into your garbage can? Heft the tank to your coworkers' desk when your office is locked over vacation? Yeah, right. Undersea observation may do the trick at home, but for the office, a screensaver like Dream Aquarium Screensaver is a heck of a lot more practical. It works, too. … Read more

Quick Tip: Make VoIP calls on the iPhone

Shiny and glossy just like the iPhone itself is Fring, a relative newcomer to the VoIP-plus-IM communicator scene. Crowning itself the first true mobile VoIP solution for Apple's dream phone, Fring works with Skype, SIP, MSN Messenger (Windows Live Messenger), ICQ, Google Talk, Twitter, and Yahoo, though some of those services are clearly chat-only. CNET Executive Editor Tom Merritt shows you how to get started with Fring on your jailbroken iPhone in this Quick Tip video. If you like the program, you can still recommend Fring to friends who have to make do with merely Symbian, UIQ, and Windows MobileRead more

Next Photoshop widget-happy?

Users of the next Adobe Creative Suite may be able to mix and mash up the applications with online content and third-party tools.

In a bid to make workspaces more nimble, Adobe Systems is considering making parts of Photoshop and other Creative Suite applications available for users to manipulate within Flash widgets, according to a blog post Monday by John Nack, product manager of Photoshop.

The capability to bring tools from the Creative Suite to the desktop or the Web with Flash or Flex could lead to novel ways of exploring Adobe's expensive, hulking software. Users have mashed up … Read more