Essential Freeware

Windows Middle East highlights the very best freeware of 2006, which you don’t even need to spend time downloading as it’s on this month’s free Windows CD! Once you’ve tried this little lot, let us know what you thought, on windows@itp.com

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By  Matthew Wade Published  November 10, 2006

|~||~||~|Windows Middle East highlights the very best freeware of 2006, which you don’t even need to spend time downloading as it’s on this month’s free Windows CD! From innovative web browsers to funky little new games and absolutely essential security and productivity utilities, these installations will help you become a better, slicker computer user in quick time. Once you’ve tried this little lot, let us know what you thought, on windows@itp.com||**||Eternal Daughter|~||~||~|This epic non-linear platform title pays homage to several of the developers’ favourite games from their preteen years, such as Super Metroid and Castlevania: SOTN. The gameplay might feel therefore a litlte familiar, but the world, the characters, and the story are all 100% original. You play the role of Mia, a young girl born into slavery under the ‘Dungaga’. All you need to do is to escape from your oppressors and put paid to the nasty evil that’s controlling them. No worries then. ||**||Fish Tycoon|~|fish-tycoon---m.gif|~||~|It’s the game you never knew you’d like - a fish breeding simulation in which, yes you’ve guessed it, you breed and care for exotic fish in a real-time virtual aquarium (with the aim of discovering the seven ‘Magic Fish’). You start with a small selection of fish, some money and a tank. You must then carefully breed your slippery swimmers, care for them, help them grow, and cure them if they get sick. Sounds pointless? Well of course, but we liked it!||**||Little Fighter 2|~||~||~|Following on - as you might expect - from Little Fighter 1, this popular freeware fighting game is simple yet highly addictive. Up to four human players can play on one computer (providing you have that many gamepads) or eight characters can simultaneously enjoy the action over a local area network. This excellent release includes VS, Stage (or team), Championship and Battle modes. If you need any help, theck out the player forum at http://lf2.net/. ||**||ShadowFlare Episode One|~||~||~|In the past this mercenary release sold for US $14.99, but now that it’s completely free it makes a great addition to this month’s CD. You start your journey as a hired mercenary working for gold and fighting experience in a demon-ruled land. Once you progress to a certain skill level, you can then choose a profession for your character, be it warrior, wizard/witch or hunter. You’ll also get an animal companion to help wage the fight alongside you. Off you go then - enjoy!||**||Street Challenge 1.3.1|~|street-challenge---m.gif|~||~|Street Challenge is an authentic, online multiplayer drag racing simulator that will really appeal to fans of films like ‘The Fast and The Furious’ and ‘Gone in 60 seconds’, gear-heads and even occasional lovers of driving sims. This game requires an internet connection - the faster the better. You can find some great extra info, fan forum chat and even -wait for it - links to fan sites for this game, over at www.streetchallenge.info. ||**||Super Mario Blue Twilight DX|~|super-mario---m.gif|~||~|This is a great, yet unofficial, fan game based on the well-known Mario universe, which combines elements from 3D Mario titles with classic, 2D gameplay. The original Super Mario: Blue Twilight game (MarioWeen for short) was developed in just two weeks and released back in 2003. This release however soon morphed from being a small upgrade due in 2004 to a much larger offering. Let us know your thoughts and your favourite freeware releases by e-mailing us on windows@itp.com.||**||Free Internet TV 6.0|~|free-internet-TV---m.gif|~||~|Are you a goggle-eyed TV addict but short on cash or PC upgrading skills? Then forget PC TV cards! With this internet television tuner program you can enjoy over 750 online channels of daily and live broadcasts from around the world, all streamed through your internet connection. A broadband line is therefore recommended. ||**||Internet Explorer 6 SP1 |~|IE---m.gif|~||~|Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1, which includes the full version of IE6, is the latest full version of Microsoft’s controversial internet browser. Whether you’re new to version six then, or just need to update your app, click here to install this and improve your surfing experience.(Note: If Windows XP SP1 is installed on your computer, you do not need to download and install Internet Explorer 6 SP1.)||**||Lanic|~|LANIC---m.gif|~||~|Set-up voice communication between LAN-connected computers with this simple intercom application. It’s so easy to use you’ll wonder why you didn’t employ it earlier: Use the first PC to simply select the computer to connect to (from a list that shows all the currently connected systems running Lanic). After that you’re away and chatting. ||**||Mozilla Firefox 1.5.0.7|~|firefox---m.gif|~||~|If you’re not a fan of IE, get your hands on Mozilla’s latest Firefox browser. This fast, full-featured release makes browsing more efficient via its pop-up blocking, tab-browsing mode, integrated Google searching and simplified privacy controls. And that’s without even mentioning the hundreds upon hundreds of juicy plug-ins available!||**||Opera 9.02|~|opera--=-m.gif|~||~|Now with BitTorrent support to keep avid downloaders happy, the Opera 9.02 browser includes a pop-up blocker, multiple-window navigation, mouse gestures, keyboard shortcuts, an e-mail client with a spam filter, and integrated search. It also includes IRC-compatible chat and a password manager. Enough features for you? We thought so.||**||Netscape 8.1.2|~|netscape---m.gif|~||~|In addition to high-speed browsing and instant-messaging capabilities, Netscape’s latest browser offering features one-click searching from the address bar. Quick Launch (which reduces the browser’s start-up time), Click-to-Search (allowing allows users to select just one word within a web page and search), plus all kinds of support for buddy icons, file transfers, and alerts. Version 8.1.2 also includes enhanced protection against phishing. ||**||VLC Media Player|~|VLC---m.gif|~||~|VLC is a cross-platform media player and streaming server. It supports all manner of audio and video formats (from MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 to DivX, MP3, ogg and more) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.||**||Quick Time Alternative 1.76|~|QUICKTIME-ALTERNATIVE---M.gif|~||~|Even you’re a die-hard PC user and don’t want to encourage Mr Jobs’ Apple organisation, this cheeky program will let you play QuickTime files - in other words, those with .mov, .qt and .3gp extensions - without having to install the firm’s official QuickTime Player. This effective release even supports QuickTime content that you come across embedded in web pages.||**||Vallen Jpegger|~|vallen-jpegger---m.gif|~||~|This handy and fully-featured image viewer could well be the missing link between you and a finely organised collection of digital pictures. Aimed squarely at users with thousands of random snaps, this app can read up to 40 different image file formats, supports lossless JPEG rotation and even includes a MP3 organiser to help you also get your songs in order too. And did we mention that, like all the apps here, it’s free? Bargain!||**||Real Alternative 1.50|~||~||~|Real Alternative is similar in nature to Quick Time Alternative (also on this CD), in that it lets you play files (in this case RealMedia files) without having to install the original player (i.e. Real Networks’ RealPlayer or RealOne Players). In keeping with this, Real Alternative supports .ra, .rpm, .rm, .ram, .rmvb, .rpx and .smi files, and then plenty more besides.||**||Windows Media Player 11 Beta|~|WIN-Media-player-10---m.gif|~||~|The latest version of Microsoft’s popular player app offers wider options and flexibility than ever before. With this program you can manage your respective libraries of digital music, photos, and videos, plus version 11 integrates with Microsoft’s burgeoning URGE music service. Best of all, this program works will all versions of Windows XP. ||**||iTunes 7.0.1|~|itunes---m.gif|~||~|This latest version of Apple'’ ubiquitous media player includes MP3- and pristine-quality AAC-encoding from audio CDs, smart playlists, more than 250 free internet radio stations and the ability to burn custom playlists to CDs and MP3 CDs. Why download it from Apple.com? Just install it from our handily supplied Windows CD. ||**||PSPad Editor 4.5.1|~|PSpad---m.gif|~||~|This freeware unicode program editor is an essential install for people who work with various programming environments and need a small tool with simple controls, yet also the capabilities of a mighty editor. This version includes a raft of new features, including the ability to switch off PSPad scripting and a new Cobol code explorer. Find out more if you like from www.pspad.com.||**||Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) |~|ultimate-boot-CD---i.gif|~||~|If you would find it useful to run floppy-based diagnostic tools from CD-ROM, free yourself from the slow loading speed of the floppy drive, or consolidate as many diagnostic tools as possible into one bootable CD, then Ultimate Boot CD is the app for you. In short, every IT worker and power user should own and use this release. ||**||Axence NetTools 2.0.7|~|axence---i.gif|~||~|You can find many different IP tools on the internet, but the problem is that lots of these have poor user interfaces, provide limited functionality, and have no SNMP support. NetTools is a do-able alternative: A great solution for host monitoring, alerting and measuring your network performance.||**||Restoration 2.5.14|~|restoration---m.gif|~||~|This small yet effective tool is designed to help you retrieve lost or accidentally deleted data. It supports FAT and NTFS disk partition formats, and can even help restore dumbly-delted snaps from digital camera memory cards. You never know when you might need this tiny solution, so get busy installing it! ||**||WinBackup 1.86 |~|WinBackup---m.gif|~||~|Protect your data before it’s too late! This award-winning piece of freeware is geniunely a great way for cash-poor users to protect their data. It could end up being the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major loss of data. Able to backup to any form of media and ridiculously simple to use, there shouldn’t be any user around without safe copies of their valuable files when products like this are available. ||**||TuneXP15|~|driver-heaven-tune-XP---m.gif|~||~|Squeeze more performance from your Windows XP-based system with this easy-to-use tweaking program. Designed largely to help you enhance your computer’s hardware settings, this release crucially includes a simple guide that every user can understand. Featuring easy-to-use dropdown menus, it will make your Windows installation go from sluggish to a red-blooded beast! ||**||CCleaner|~|CCleaner--=-m.gif|~||~|CCleaner (which stands for, ahem, ‘Crap Cleaner’) is a highly usable system optimisation tool. With this ingenious release you can dump unused and temporary files from your system, which in turn will allow your Windows operating system to run faster, more efficiently and to free up more hard disk space. ||**||SpywareBlaster 3.5.1|~|spyware-blaster---m.gif|~||~|Developed by Java Cool Software, SpywareBlaster doesn’t scan for and clean up spyware; instead it prevents the nasty stuff from being installed in the first place. SpywareBlaster has been designed to block the installation of various threats, including ActiveX-based spyware, adware, dialers, browser hijackers and more. It will also stop dodgy websites in their tracks and doesn’t need to run in the background (so your PC’s perforamnce should remain spritely). ||**||Vista Transformation 5.5|~|Vista--m.gif|~||~|Give your XP machine that Vista look, for free! Install this program and you'll soon find enough transparency features and effects to make you the envy of your geek friends. And at such a great price!||**||Comodo Firewall|~||~||~|Of course, every user needs anti-virus on their system, but the double protection whammy of this software and a personal firewall is even harder to beat! This app will block worms, viruses and more from entering your personal system. Designed to be suitable for novices and advanced users alike, the Windows has nothing but praise for this comprehensive piece of freeware. Install it, keep safe; job done.||**||

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