Friday, 13 November 2009

The best kind of ware is free!

After installing Windows 7 in the past week I've been pleasantly surprised! I didn't find Vista as bad as everyone seems to say it is, now I see what a stepping stone it was from XP to 7, in fact some have said that Vista was in fact a fund raiser in the meantime to raise money to develop 7. In my house, there is a friendly rivalry between me and my house mate, Mikey, and among a lot of things is our rivalry between my Windows 7 powered Acer aspire and his Snow Leopard powered MacBook. My laptop has been missing a lot of things compared to his (things like Expose, docked applications and a generally fast machine) but with Windows 7 arriving, a lot of these things have arrived and even maybe surpassed Mike's MacBook.

This isn't a post to compare the positives and negatives of Microsoft to Apple operating systems, but to show, in addition to Windows 7, how to get some of the Mac's excellent and exclusive abilities on your Windows system, for free!

7stacks
Stacks is an addition to the Mac OSX dock which can group folders, files or programs together in one click on your desktop. 7stacks is a new piece of freeware which emulates this function for Windows. By pinning it to your Win7 taskbar (or Quick Launch in previous Windows versions), you can access very quickly a group of files or programs which you choose, be it a list of Office applications or your current piece of work on your course.

7Stacks

Windows Live Essentials
This is software which is not included in Windows by default but is free to use. Windows Live Essentials includes programs such as Windows Live Messenger and Movie Maker but also Windows Live Photo Gallery. With the latter program, you can emulate iPhoto on a Mac: tagging faces which are recognised automatically, viewing photos in an easy interface and uploading straight to places like Facebook or Flickr.

Picasa
Similarly, this is software, by Google, which can rival iPhoto. On this Picasa you can also view photos in a useful interface, tag faces and, my favourite feature, 'GeoTag' photos to link them to a location on GoogleMaps or GoogleEarth.

Switcher
Expose was Mike's favourite thing to show me that Win7 didn't have but Switcher allows Windows users to have an ability very similar to this. You can assign your own keyboard shortcut to have all your open applications and windows open up across your screen to be selected by mouse click or by hitting the corresponding number. Excellent!

Switcher

So there you go. Some freeware to download and make your computer experience much better (admittedly a lot of this was inspired slash stolen from Mac but shhhhhh), you may as well try it out, it's free!

Credit to these goes to this TechRadar.com article, as do the screen grabs.