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The backlash against Microsoft Windows Vista was likely the biggest software story of the year, along with the push to move software onto the Web (see Webware) and the continuing file-sharing saga. Each of these themes shows up in my list of the most popular stories from the Download.com blog in 2007, but it's a startling announcement by P2P software LimeWire that sneaks away with the top spot.
No. 10. First Look at Guitar Hero Mobile
Many diehard Guitar Hero fans like myself weren't even aware of the development of a mobile version. It turns out that clicking the top three keys on your cell phone to play guitar notes isn't nearly as fun as hammering on a full-sized whammy bar, but it's obviously still a sign of the rise in mobile gaming. Jessica Dolcourt takes you on a tour of the mobile version of Guitar Hero with a First Look video.
No. 9. One-hit wonders: Simple downloads we love
When it comes to certain software applications, small is better. Users are definitely on the lookout for powerful programs that pack a tiny file size, as evidence by the response to this collection of great little software titles. Whether you're looking to clean up your Web cookies, launch programs faster, or grab everything off of an iPod, these seven helpful utilities more than pull their own weight.
No. 8. Adobe flashes more looks at online Photoshop Express
Aside from making major financial news in 2007 from sales of Web 2.0 companies, Web-based software didn't exactly explode in 2007. Online productivity applications Google Docs & Spreadsheets and Zoho Suite let users share documents online, but a quick comparison with Microsoft Office 2007 will demonstrate that thin-client apps still have a long way to go.
That all could change, of course, once Adobe takes its flagship photo/design software Photoshop onto the Web for free. It's still vaporware at this point, but Download.com users are definitely interested in its development. This October 2007 update from Martin Lamonica offers a snapshot of the development of Photoshop Express thus far.
No. 7. Presenting: ?BitTorrent
On September 21, 2007, Seth Rosenblatt called it "a day that teh Interwebs broke in half--just a little." I'm not sure I'd go that far, but the merging of the BitTorrent peer-to-peer software with the uTorrent end-user interface was big news for file-sharing on Download.com.
BitTorrent, the creator of the revolutionary file-sharing protocol, had been lagging behind its competitors as far as its client. The conversion to a uTorrent-fronted app makes sense in that regard, but why is uTorrent still around? And will it become open source like the eponymous client? Read on.
No. 6. Optimize your hard drive in three easy steps
Regardless of how large your local hard drive is, everyone runs out of room sooner or later. And if you're not careful in how you manage the space on your hard drive, you may find yourself with decreased performance and stability. This article that I wrote back in June 2007 shows off three of my favorite software products for: identifying disk-space usage; removing junk files; and defragging the disk.
No. 5. Top 11 Mozilla Firefox themes
When it comes to popular feature stories on Download.com, Mozilla Firefox reigns supreme. Most likely, it's because the open-source browser allows users to customize it in nearly every manner possible.
One of the easiest ways to make Firefox your own is to add a third-party theme that alters the buttons, interface background, menus, and sometimes the entire look of the browser. From easy-to-read icons for the visually impaired to a wicked cool Christmas style, I've picked my favorite current 11 themes for Mozilla Firefox in this list from a few weeks ago.
No. 4. P2P heats up with FrostWire
It's no secret that file-sharing applications are some of the most popular downloads on the site. LimeWire is consistently in the Top 10 most popular products, while many others through the years--Napster, Grokster, Morpheus, iMesh, Kazaa--have spent time historically in the upper echelons of download counts.
When a new program splashes onto the scene, it's a big deal, especially when it's developed from LimeWire, the most popular P2P app on Download.com right now. As Seth Rosenblatt writes in this hands-on report from last month, "FrostWire aims to be a cool princess to LimeWire's grouchy grandmother." Read on.
No. 3. RealPlayer 11 beta is a stream ripper
Personally, I haven't been much of a fan of RealPlayer through the years, for a variety of different reasons. However, it's continued to be one of the most favorite downloads on Download.com ever since its first release many years ago. The latest update, Version 11, made a splash in online circles this year with a new feature that lets users record streaming audio or video from RealPlayer to their local machines.
Has the world turned upside down? The streaming player that was originally designed to prevent users from copying content locally now lets those same users download Flash videos from YouTube and songs from Internet radio for free? All I know is that I like it.
No. 2. Killer Download: Get the most out of XP
Download.com Editor Jason Parker relaunched his Killer Download column early this year, and has been busy offering up tips on everything from clipboard replacements and holiday recipes to Registry cleaners and firewalls. This column from August 2007 about optimizing Windows XP certainly struck a chord with Download.com users (most likely since no one is upgrading to Vista.)
No. 1. LimeWire going legit?
As I've mentioned before, file-sharing apps are some of the most popular downloads on the site, and LimeWire is currently one of the most popular (it tends to do-si-do with BitComet every now and then). The P2P application has been under the threat of legal action for years now, but the software is still legal for now and distributed around the world.
This August 15, 2007, article from technology analyst Matt Rosoff explains how LimeWire announced that it would be adding a feature to its client that would let users purchase legal downloads directly from LimeWire. The format was expected to be 256kbps MP3, with no digital-rights management protections. Of course, LimeWire gave no time frame for the addition of purchaseable music to its store, and the "Coming Soon" logo at its placeholder site hasn't budged since. There was another brief press release in October, but there's still no concrete launch date.
Still, the notion that P2P giant LimeWire would go the route of Napster and start selling legal music was enough to pique the interest of more downloaders than any other story this year. What do you think is the biggest download story of 2007? Tell me about it in the comments.