The Download Blog

Travel through the universe

Last night, Microsoft Research released WorldWide Telescope--new, free software that enables users to explore the universe with impressive content from the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, and other famed ground- and space-based telescopes. Colorful nebulae, distant galaxies, black holes, and radiation clouds are all accessible from your desktop with a few clicks. The software has been released for free in honor of Jim Gray, a Microsoft researcher who was lost at sea last year.

Google Earth added a similar feature called Google Sky with its Version 4.2 release. Google also … Read more

Times Reader headed to the Mac

The New York Times is bringing its e-reader desktop application to the Mac this month. The newspaper publisher unveiled its latest efforts last night, with a slew of screenshots. The Times' First Look post notes that the application will be running on Microsoft's Silverlight technology, enabling rich-media effects and rendering. Users will be able to read, browse, and search the entire publication while offline.

The big difference between the PC application and the Mac version will be the ability to view pages in three different sizes, all of which have been crunched on the company's servers instead of … Read more

Opera Mini 4.1 steps out of beta

On Tuesday, Opera sewed up a short beta run of Opera Mini 4.1. After a mere month and a half, the Norwegian software company declared the cell phone browser build stable enough to institute as the latest product standard.

Opera Mini 4.1, like Opera 9.5 Beta 2, can now guess the URL you want when you enter a search term in the address bar, a praiseworthy ability. It can also highlight terms on a Web page to let you zero in on most-wanted data bites. You'll use this Find feature, common to desktop browsers, by hitting … Read more

Google chooses 50 finalists in Android Developer Challenge

Google has chosen 50 finalists in the Android Developer Challenge, doling out $1.25 million in the process.

As part of a bid to heighten interest in Android, Google's forthcoming mobile operating system, the company has been running a contest for prospective Android developers to submit their ideas for the platform. A total of 1,788 entries were received from 70 countries.

Android is envisioned as a mobile phone operating system for mass-market phones, not necessarily smart phones like the iPhone or BlackBerry Bold. Google and its partners in the Open Handset Alliance hope to release phones running the … Read more

Red Hat lives on the edge with Fedora 9

Red Hat on Tuesday released the ninth incarnation of its enthusiast version of Linux, making a move that rival Ubuntu couldn't: the inclusion of the KDE 4 user interface.

That's because Fedora and Ubuntu have different approaches to new projects such as KDE 4, which is new, significantly different from KDE 3.5, and not yet settled down.

Red Hat has two versions of Linux, the free Fedora that's designed as a proving ground that can get new projects into the hands of early adopters while helping those projects to mature, and the subscription-fee-based Red Hat Enterprise LinuxRead more

Mac Office sales soar on Apple's gains

While Apple's market share gains are cause for consternation for many in Redmond, one unit is clearly benefiting.

Microsoft's Mac unit is set to disclose on Tuesday that copies of the new Office for Mac 2008 are flying off the shelves at three times the rate of its predecessor. The company wouldn't disclose sales numbers, but said the sales are the highest in the 19-year history of the unit. That continues a trend that has been going on for some time.

Senior marketing manager Amanda Lefebvre declined to give all of the credit to Apple, but said … Read more

Featured Freeware: K9 Web Blocker

For a free Internet filter, K9 Web Blocker does its job well, providing a broad collection of options for customizing your remote Web supervision needs. The app comes with a handful or so of predesigned filters and an option to customize. With more than 50 categories for organizing Web sites, and the keyword-free proprietary K9 rating system, the Web monitoring and blocking aspects of the software functioned well. K9 also has categories for blocking sites that have been detected as potential malware threats. Equally impressive--and a little bit scary--was the log that detailed not just blocked Web sites but also … Read more

XP update throws some for a loop

This blog was updated at 9:30 a.m. PDT with information from Microsoft about the cause of the glitch.

Owners of some AMD-based computers are finding that the move to Windows XP Service Pack 3 has sent their systems into an endless reboot cycle.

"While the root cause of this issue is complex, it results from OEMs improperly placing a Windows XP image created for an for Intel-based computer onto machines with non-Intel chipsets," Microsoft said in a statement. "Microsoft issued guidance to OEMs advising them to only load Windows XP images onto like hardware in … Read more

ZoneAlarm virtualizes the desktop Internet browser

Recent attacks on legitimate Web sites may have left some end users vulnerable. But on Monday, Check Point Software Technologies released ZoneAlarm ForceField, which might provide some with the safe surfing protection they need.

ZoneAlarm ForceField sells for $29.95 (for a single user license) or $49.95 (for a three-user license) and currently works only with Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2, and the Firebox 3 beta. In tests at CNET, ZoneAlarm ForceField did not work with Apple Safari for Windows or Opera 9. Installation doesn't require a reboot. When you open your Internet browser, the edges will be … Read more