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29 software releases & updates you may have missed in the run up to Christmas

24 December 2011, Software Publisher

Almost everyone has been busy over the past week making some form of preparation for Christmas and the holiday season. But despite the general pace of the world winding down slightly, the pace of software development continues with its usual speed. Mozilla has been particularly busy this week, releasing numerous updates to its Firefox web browser. The main release branch for the browser has hit version 9. Firefox 9.0.1 FINAL includes numerous tweaks to performance as well as changes to the way add-ons are handled. Startup times have been improved as has the general performance and stability of the browser.

If you like to try out something before most people, Firefox 10.0 Beta has also been updated as has the somewhat more experimental and alpha-like Firefox Aurora 11.0a2. For anyone who wants to be right on the cutting edge of browser development, the nightly builds of Firefox have also entered a new phase. Firefox Nightly 12.0a1 (32-bit) includes a range of interface enhancements and  Firefox Nightly 12.0a1 (64-bit) brings the same experimental version of the browser to users of 64-bit systems. Even more interface changes can be found in Firefox UX 12.01 UX (32-bit). The UX branch of Firefox includes a more streamlined toolbar and a new tab page amongst other new features. 64-bit users should take a look at Firefox UX 12.01 UX (64-bit).

Waterfox is basically Firefox recompiled for 64-bit versions of Windows

Continuing the Firefox theme, Waterfox 9.0 is a version of the browser designed specifically for 64-bit versions of Windows. It is based on the current stable version of Firefox so if you have become used to how this browser work but wants to take advantage of 64-bit goodness, this is well worth checking out. It doesn’t end there for Mozilla. There are no more version of Firefox for you to play with, but Mozilla Thunderbird 9.0 FINAL has been released. This is an email client and RSS reader which is evolving well over time, and if you take a liking to it, you should also check out the Mozilla Lightning 1.1 FINAL add-on which adds a calendar component to the program.

While your web browser may be one of the most used applications, when it comes to hardware your hard drive is your most important piece of hardware. If you have taken the step of upgrading your drive to an SSD, Intel SSD Toolbox 3.0.2 can be used to optimize its performance. Seagate SeaTools for Windows can be used with any type of hard drive – and not just those produced by Seagate – to check for problems and repair damaged sectors. If you’ve ever wished that it was possible to use your iPhone or iPod more like a removable hard drive, iExplorer could be just what you’ve been looking for as it makes it possible to copy files to and from your device with ease.

Sticking with iOS device, iPadian 0.2 is an interesting free tool that makes it possible to run iPad apps – albeit a very limited selection – on your desktop computer using an Adobe AIR app. PhotoScape 3.6 is a program for anyone looking to enhance their digital photos and is an editor that does not require a degree to use it. Despite its ease of use, this is a powerful app, but if you are a little more demanding, you may want to take a look at CyberLink PhotoDirector 3 Beta which includes not only advantage photo editing options but also media management tools and much more.

System maintenance

Get IObit SystemCare 4 PRO, worth $19.95, for FREE from Downloadcrew, through December

System maintenance tools have always been popular and one particularly popular tool is CCleaner 3.14 which has improved support for cleaning up after Internet Explorer. Should you prefer to keep all of your maintenance apps available on a USB drive, there is also a portable version available in the form of CCleaner Portable. Two interesting new tools were unveiled this week. JetBoost 1.0 makes it possible to boost the performance of your computer by terminating unnecessary processes, while JetClean can be used to free up disk space, optimize memory usage and optimize your registry. Fans of special offers should definitely check out IObit Advanced SystemCare PRO 4 is an amazingly powerful system maintenance tool that you can grab completely free of charge. Originally sold for $19.95, you can grab your copy of the app free of charge from Downloadcrew.

In addition to system maintenance, system security and protection is also incredibly importance. Toolwiz TimeFreeze is a free tool that extends the idea of Windows’ system restore facility, making it possible to freeze the state of your computer and restore it should unwanted changes be made. If you like to be involved in the process of protecting your files, look no further than Paragon Backup & Recovery 2012 Free. This immensely powerful backup tool can be used to backup data to removable media, as well as local hard drives, and you can schedule your backups so you don’t need to remember to manually create them.

Run virtual operating system using the free VirtualBox

System security often includes using passwords, and Password Security Scanner 1.00 can be used to check the strength of the various passwords you have stored on your computer. This is a great way to home in on potential security holes in your system, enabling you to make the necessary changes quickly and easily. Comodo Internet Security 5.9 is a free security suite that includes antivirus and firewall protection. If you don’t want to install a complete security suite, you can install the components individually – Comodo Antivirus 5.9 and Comodo Firewall 5.9. Rounding off the security tools for this week are BufferZone Pro 4.0 which enables you to run your internet tools in a sandboxed environment to avoid the risk of sharing private information or falling victim to viruses and malware. VirtualBox 4.1.8 is a system virtualization tool that can be used for the same security purposes, but it can also be used as a test bed for running alternative operating systems or running software without affecting your main OS.

Remember to keep one eye on our Downloadcrew Giveaway website over Christmas. Extra special discounts and, on Christmas Day, IObit Malware Fighter 1.2 PRO, worth $19.95, free for one day only! More free full apps available next week, too.

This is the penultimate software roundup of 2011, so all that remains is for us to wish you a Merry Christmas!

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