Some downloadable software is so good that you just have to grab it. Unfortunately, often you have to pay for it after you try it out. But every once in a while, a must-have program is totally free. Such indispensable, no-cost programs are the hardest kind to find.
Stories by Preston Gralla
Microsoft's recent deal with Nokia will put Windows Phone 7 on millions of Nokia mobile phones around the world. Microsoft in turn will shower billions of dollars on Nokia in marketing, engineering and other costs. The companies hope that together, they can make inroads into the mobile market that has increasingly become dominated by Apple's iPhone and Google's Android.
The Norton Mobile Utilities beta for Android is a useful but somewhat buggy suite of free tools that any self-respecting Android geek will want to download and test. To a certain extent, it's a proof of concept, because Symantec has not yet decided whether the app will ever become a full-blown product and, if it does, whether it will be free or for pay. Still, it's well worth the download.
Why was Eric Schmidt suddenly demoted as Google's CEO? There are as many opinions as there are analysts, but I think the reason is clear: Google is worried that it's suffering from Microsoft syndrome, and thinks having Schmidt step aside may be the cure.
With every passing month, Google Chrome is becoming increasingly popular. Fans laud its lean, stripped-down interface, and its fast browsing. They also appreciate the free extensions that give Chrome the ability to do all kinds of nifty things.
Android phones are remarkable devices, and essentially are full-blown computers that fit in your hand. In lots of ways, they work well with your PC -- but not in all ways. One of the biggest issues is Android's handling of bookmarks and browser information. Your Android browser doesn't talk to your PC browser, and vice versa. If you find a Web page on your PC that you want to save as a bookmark, it won't be saved to your Android browser. Chrome to Phone is a nifty, free workaround.
Like everyone else on the Internet, you likely use one or more of Google's many services, from search to Gmail to Google Calendar to Google Docs. And like plenty of other people, you probably have wished that these services could do even more, or that you could make them run exactly the way you wanted.
If you're an iPhone user, you'll find the just-released iOS 4.2 a solid, mildly useful new system update. There's nothing earth-shaking here, and nothing as significant as the multitasking features and folders that iOS 4.2 adds to the iPad.
Steve Ballmer has sold more than 49 million shares of Microsoft stock worth $1.3 billion in the past several days, and plans to sell a total of 75 million shares by year's end. Does he know something we don't?
If you're looking for an excellent, free mail client, you'll do well to install Windows Live Mail 2011. This newest version of Microsoft's free e-mail client has been significantly upgraded over the previous version, and now includes a host of new features, including a calendar pane and Microsoft Office's Ribbon interface. It doesn't include all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Outlook, such as tasks and a full-blown calendar, but given that it's free, Windows Live Mail is well worth the download.
As Android's popularity continues to mushroom, the number of Android apps available has surpassed 100,000. That's good news because there are so many possibilities to choose from, but bad news because the sheer volume of options is becoming overwhelming and it's hard to know which ones are worth downloading. And if you using a different phone OS, you may suffer from serious Android envy.
Want access to the world's most popular encyclopedia -- wherever you are? Then get Wikidroid (free), which does an excellent job of putting the power of Wikipedia on your Android phone. You'll get full Wikipedia content, including live links and graphics, so you won't be giving up anything when you access it this way.
A recent Goldman Sachs report that downgraded Microsoft stock from Buy to Neutral also made this startling suggestion: Microsoft should be carved up, with its consumer division severed from its enterprise business.
AVG Internet Security 2011, which shipped on Tuesday, offers the full complement of tools you'd expect in an all-in-one security suite, packaged in a simple-to-use interface and offering integration with popular browsers and Outlook. But the software is marred by annoying attempts to upsell you to other products, and a scanning engine that may slow down your system.
Those who have written off IE as being slow and old-looking are in for a surprise. The just-released Internet Explorer 9 beta is dramatically faster than its predecessor, sports an elegant, stripped-down interface and adds some useful new features.