Windows Software

Featured Freeware: Gizmo5

Cross-platform and instantly familiar-looking, Gizmo5--also known as the Gizmo Project--is trying to make in-roads against the domination of other VoIP and telephony programs.

Gizmo5's interface is compact and rectangular, with tabs on the top just below the Menu bar and a series of ancillary commands like Chat and Add Contact available at the bottom. There are very few differences between Gizmo's design and its biggest competitor's. A little originality could've gone a long way here.

Also similar to Skype, Gizmo provides free VoIP for computer-to-computer voice chatting as well as text chatting. It also allows … Read more

Verdiem's Edison helps you get green

This blog has been updated with the correct default kilowatt-per-hour rate.

Sometimes it's the little things that count, especially when it comes to your carbon footprint.

When it comes to PC usage, those little things include turning off your computer when you're not using it. Enter Verdiem, with its free download called Edison, which it is offering to consumers to help with their PC power management at home.

Verdiem has a similar product for large enterprise customers--and they of course charge for it. But Edison is free, and available at the company Web site, or from Microsoft.com/environment. … Read more

Featured Freeware: Songbird

Deciding to recommend the cross-platform Songbird as a Featured Freeware required a bit of an internal struggle. On the one hand, it's the lovechild of a boozy Firefox-and-iTunes hookup, from the music jukebox interface to the browsing behavior. What's not to love about that mashup? However close it hops to the edge of its nest, though, the app is still in beta and buggier than an Alaskan summer. When considering that not-significant drawback against the music-management, music-discovery, and Web-browsing features that take wing along with broad MP3 player support, it's hard to deny that Songbird injects some … Read more

Featured Freeware: WavePad

"Size matters not," right? Audio-editor WavePad is a prime example of a small program that's got a lot of force.

Available for both Windows and Mac, the app furnishes plenty of tools for recording and editing sound. WavePad's interface is fairly well-organized, and the Command Bar feature provides quick access to the most frequently used functions. WavePad supports a variety of popular audio formats, including MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA, and it includes a ripping function.

Once you open a file or begin recording via your sound card, you'll see a large rendering of the … Read more

EFF introduces Switzerland...the program

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released an open-source, cross-platform program designed to track your packets and determine if your ISP is throttling your connection to torrents, VoIP, and other legal, high-bandwidth consuming communications. Called "Switzerland" and licensed under the GPL, it's very much in an alpha state and is only a command-line tool at the moment. Also, you're going to have to compile it yourself--that's not the most challenging task, but this isn't a simple self-extracting app.

According to the EFF, Switzerland works by spotting IP packets that have been forged or modified between … Read more

Featured Freeware: aTunes

When I tested the open-source jukebox aTunes, the fast installation was followed by shockingly sluggish tree navigation, required to add my song library. Fortunately, the subsequent scan was flawless, handling 7,500 tracks in about 10 minutes. In music terms, the show started off with some bad feedback, but then aTunes really got rockin'.

There's a lot going on in this iTunes competitor. It's got some failings, notably no plans for firmware-based MP3 player support. That means no iPods or Zunes allowed. aTunes does offer excellent support for players that behave like external hard drives, simply playing songs … Read more

Featured Freeware: IncrediMail Xe

With its straightforward interface and whimsical attitude, IncrediMail appeals to the casual e-mailer, but actually offers enough features--like Exchange server support--to be functional for more serious endeavors. You can personalize your messages with background stationery from a variety of categories, including animals, art, technology, and moods. The program installs with about 50 backgrounds, most with a cartoony feel, and you can download more online or create your own with the trialware Letter Creator. It supports recorded voice attachments, and the premium version supports skins.

There are a few drawbacks. The interface lacks pizazz and looks like it was last overhauled … Read more

Featured Freeware: EclipseCrossword

For crossword fans, the question isn't why you should download this freeware crossword creator, but why you possibly wouldn't. EclipseCrossword may not be glamorous, but it will make quality crosswords of varying sizes in mere seconds. Better yet, your final creations will be printable or publishable in a number of formats, including Web pages.

The program uses a wizard-style interface to guide you through the steps of making your own crossword, starting with entering the clues and answers one by one and ending with a crossword puzzle that fits your size specifications. Both puzzles and word lists can … Read more

CNET TV: Top 5 worst downloads of summer 2008

Every few months, we like to playfully poke fun at some of the less successful software on the site. While there are countless great products created (and covered in this blog, hopefully) every week, these five software applications are not included in that group. These programs are the other sort of download software--the head-scratching variety.

We love you, software publishers, we really do. Some of your products...are another story.

Watch CNET TV's Tom Merritt count down this summer's list of the worst software on Download.com, and see if you don't find yourself wondering, "What … Read more