These days you’ll find most of the tools you need for burning discs are built right into Windows itself. Both Vista and Windows 7 are capable of burning data discs, music CDs and video DVDs using built-in tools including Windows DVD Maker and Windows Media Player. You can even burn ISO files to disc just by double-clicking them in Windows 7.
However, there’s still plenty of functionality you might be missing – particularly if you’re running Windows XP or a stripped down version of Vista (Home Basic) or Windows 7 (Starter). Plus, you may have bought yourself a shiny Blu-ray recorder and want to burn Blu-ray discs, something not currently possible in Windows itself.
Power2Go8 Essential aims to fill in some of these gaps for free while offering a one-stop shop for all your disc burning needs. You can burn all kinds of media and data to CD, DVD and Blu-ray, create music CDs, use the desktop gadget to drap and drop files for quick-fire burning and duplicate discs, even with a single rewriter.
Confusing matters is the fact you actually download a trial of the full Power2Go 8 suite. For 15 days it’ll function as a trial for the Platinum edition of the software before reverting back to the cut-down Essential build. It’s rather annoying, as you may find yourself thinking you’re getting more for your download than you actually are.
After 15 days, the app reverts to little more than a nag for the full version – sure, some of the functionality remains, but you'll only know a tool is no longer available when you click it and a pop-up window appears prompting you to pay for the upgrade.
It helps to know that after 15 days you’ll no longer be able to burn WMA or MP3 music CDs, create any form of video disc, save or burn disc images or use the Audio Converter, CD Extra, Mixed Mode CD, Virtual Drive or Label Print accessories. You’ll also be unable to create system recovery or photo gallery discs, choose between ISO/UDF or take advantage of the simulated burning feature. It'll still take you a few clicks to work out exactly what works and what doesn't though.