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17 releases and updates from the past week that you may have missed

16 September 2011, Software Publisher

Another week, another slew of software releases and app updates. The undoubted headline stealer is the release of the Developer Preview of Windows 8, but there have been plenty of other releases worthy of investigation for anyone not interested in Microsoft’s up-coming operating system. Available in both 32- and 64-bit varieties, the Microsoft Windows 8 Developer Preview is freely available for anyone to install, not just developers – although there is also a version available that includes developer tools.

While the successor to Windows 7 is showing great signs of promise, it’s probably not a good idea to use it as your main operating system or use it for handling any mission critical data. But for seasoned users and anyone keep to keep on the cutting edge of software development, the preview gives you a chance to try out the Metro interface and a redesigned Explorer interface.

While you could set up a dual boot system to test drive Windows 8, you could also turn to VMware Workstation 4 or VMware Fusion 4 to install the operating system in a virtual environment. VMware Workstation 4 is a virtual machine manager for Windows and this latest release includes support for up to 64GB of RAM, HD audio and USB 3.0. There have been a number of visual chances to the program interface, with a new machine library replacing the old favourites sidebar and an update fullscreen toolbar provides access to more options than before.

Mac users need look no further than VMware Fusion 4 to cater for their virtualisation requirements. The program can be used to host Linux and Windows operating systems so you can run software that is not available for OS X. The latest version of the virtualisation tool brings Lion support that enables you to add Windows apps to Launchpad, and there is enhanced general and graphics performance. VMware Fusion 4 can also be used to host virtual copies of Lion, Snow Leopard and Leopard.

Windows users with safety in mind will have been heartened by the release of Paragon Backup & Recovery 11 Home which makes it easy to backup selected folders of your data or create an image of drives in their entirety. Having created a backup, should you find that your computer is rendered unbootable, a bootable restoration disc is available to help get your data back where it should be.

Being a computer user can be a frustrating experience, particularly when it comes to diagnosing and fixing performance issues and other problems. The updated release of Soluto may be able to help, using a connected cloud community of user data to diagnose and fix everything from serious system crashes to slow start times. Aside from fixing problems and gaining a speed boost, security is one of the primary concerns of any PC users.  ESET 5 is a suite of tools that includes realtime virus protection as well as a firewall, parental controls, spam filtering and more. Security analysis is enhanced through the use of the cloud based Live Grid that is used to assess the threat level of different files and programs.

Dexpot 1.6 beta is a great tools for anyone who feels they are running out of screen space. Rather than investing in a larger monitor, the applications enables you to take advantage of virtual desktops to maximise the amount of screen real estate available to you. The latest version of the app includes support for multiple monitors and enables you to configure individual applications to open on a particular desktop or monitor.

And no week of software releases would be complete without the usual selection of browser updates. Pale Moon 6.0.2 is the latest version of the speed-optimised browser based on Firefox 6 which is well worth a look. Other browser updates released this week include Firefox Portable 7.0 Beta 4 , Firefox 7.0 Beta 5, Opera Next 12.00 build 1065, Google Chrome 15.0.874.15 Dev, Google Chrome Portable 14.0.835.163 Beta, and Google Chrome 14.0.835.163 Beta.

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