The Download Blog

Palm opens its Virtual Developer Lab

It's one thing to bang out a quick third-party program for a single phone model, and quite another to develop a mobile application that works as predicted on a battalion of cell phone models, each with their own set of finely cultured specs.

For numerous reasons, developers may not have all those phones at the ready, and when it comes time for final testing, emulators that live on the screen and mimic device behavior just aren't good enough.

If you're Palm, a mobile platform and device manufacturer that's fighting for its slimmed-down market share, you'd … Read more

Featured Freeware: Pidgin

Your mother uses AOL Instant Messenger. Your spouse prefers MSN. Your office insists on Yahoo. Your ex is on MySpaceIM (shudder). What are you going to do? You could run all those chat clients at once, or you could use the multichat protocol app formerly known as Gaim: Pidgin, available for Windows, Linux, and in a portable Windows version. Like Trillian, Fire, and other third-party IM clients, this open-source messaging application lets you access multiple IM networks from one window, including Google Talk and ICQ as well as lesser-known protocols such as Jabber and Gadu-Gadu.

Pidgin's IM features are … Read more

First Look video: Auslogics BoostSpeed

If you're already familiar with the excellent Auslogics Disk Defrag, a freeware application that logically rearranges file data and free space, you might be intrigued by Auslogics BoostSpeed. The all-in-one optimizing suite groups together an uninstaller, startup manager, file shredder, and more than 10 other tools to coax your operating system to top performance. Get a tour of BoostSpeed's easy quick-launching interface in the First Look video above and find out why it's an editor favorite.

>>See all First Look videos

A Vista theme for iPhone? Yes, really

The latest third-party iPhone app to draw blogosphere buzz this morning is most definitely not Apple-approved.

The object of hilarity and defamation is VistaPerfection 2.0, a theme by developer Spec-Works that plops the Windows Vista GUI onto the iPhone. To run it, you'll need a jailbroken iPhone (see video), the SummerBoard app, and a wicked sense of humor.

Spec-Works reports that the application took "a couple days" to create and includes more than 90 icons, wallpaper, and sounds, including the Vista log-in and log-off chime and a revamped taskbar.

Quite a few tech bloggers have been … Read more

First Look video: mIRC

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) clients don't usually get the exposure that some of the other, more well-known chat clients do, but they can be even more useful than their big-name cousins. While most online chat has evolved into a way to communicate exclusively with friends, family, and co-workers, you can still meet new people with common interests if you use the right program.

Join Jason Parker in this First Look video to find out more about mIRC and to see if Internet Relay Chat is your cup of tea. Packed with useful features, it's easy to see how … Read more

ClearContext tames Outlook

Update! I forgot to mention that you can get access to the ClearContext beta by using the invite code webware on the ClearContext site.

The Outlook plug-in Xobni (download) has been getting a lot of press recently, but it's not the only Outlook helper out there.

On Monday, ClearContext, which has had a paid, enterprise-level e-mail organizer for a while now (download), is releasing ClearContext Personal, a free, de-featured version of the product (download). ClearContext isn't Webware, but since I've covered Xobni here, I'd be remiss to ignore it.

CEO Deva Hazarika acknowledged to me that … Read more

Featured Freeware: Tweak UI

There's no doubt that the freeware Tweak UI is a tool designed for people comfortable and confident with mucking about in the guts of their Windows XP installation. If that's not you, we strongly caution against using this program capriciously.

However, if you're the kind of person who likes to get your hands dirty with XP, read on. Tweak UI can alter most of the routine behaviors of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, but it also can affect some of the more advanced ones, too. The basic interface belies the features, from customizing the Alt-Tab program … Read more

Featured Freeware: Thunderbird

Mozilla's Thunderbird has come into its own with version 2 for Windows, Mac, and in a portable edition. Starring features and innovations that take aim at both Web e-mail clients and industry standards such as Microsoft's Outlook, open-source Thunderbird offers the best of both worlds.

Back and forward buttons, like the ones you have in your Web browser, let you jump through messages in the order that you viewed them. Keep your e-mails organized with tags, even across dozens of message folders. Configuration is as simple as entering your e-mail address and password. Search results can be saved, … Read more

Firefox 3 release candidate goes public

The initial release candidate of Firefox 3 is ready for download for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

It's a public preview of the new Firefox code, available in 45 languages, aimed at developers and early adopters to test out the new features. It has an extensive list of known bugs.

Among the major improvements are changes in the look and feel on the various operating systems, major security enhancements, and increased performance and stability. It is based on the Gecko 1.9 rendering engine, which includes 14,000 updates to the code.

On the performance front, the documentation states that … Read more