11 Free Softwares from Microsoft!

Microsoft - The road to ?

Photo by Nils Geylen

Microsoft The road to ?

Microsoft has been known for the proprietary softwares and need no introduction! There has always been a conflict of views across communities. While some claim that Microsoft provides value for money, FOSS activists have often denied it. Suites and programs like Open Office and GIMP have often been compared to MS Office and Adobe Photoshop, on various grounds. One of the factors being the price.

However, there are a lot of free programs that Microsoft has to offer. We list 11 of them, today;

  1. Windows Live Writer
    This is undoubtedly the best desktop-blogging application that comes for free. The amount of flexibility it offers is matchless, making it one of the best picks for bloggers across the world, both professionals and amateurs.
  2. Server Quest Game II
    Do you find it relaxing to sit and play on your console of PC for hours on end? Well, there is one more item to include to your inventory. If you are into classics, it is one classic you will want to try your hands on. It features the same pixilated graphics featured in King Quest and Leisure Suit Harry. The game is designed with Silverlight and runs on the Internet browser.
  3. SQL Server Express 2008
    This is a slimmed down version of the SQL server but with the same powerful tools to enable you create your websites and applications. The server comes in three variations – Express, Express with Advanced Services and Express with tools. The program is simple to learn, easy to use and offers the same database capabilities as the SQL server.
  4. Office Accounting Express 2008
    Structured on the familiar Microsoft office interface, Office Accounting Express 2008 is a simple to use but powerful accounting tool of all times. It is engineered to blend seamlessly with other office applications.
  5. SyncToy 2.0
    As the name has it, SyncToy acts a synchronization tool that is tailored to help you keep duplicate files open on your computer or over a network. It is also a powerful back up tool. It has a simple to use interface which is a plus.
  6. Windows Steady State
    If you operate a cyber café or a large class and the chances of computers getting crashed is high, you might want to try out Windows SteadyState. The program allows you to restore every computer to the first day of configuration.
  7. Worldwide Telescope
    With images straight from the Hubble Space Telescope, this program brings the power of outer space exploration right into your house. You can engage in a rich user experience where you shuffle through hundreds of images from space.
  8. Virtual PC 2007
    This program allows you to run several operating systems and applications on one physical computer. A simple to install and run software.
  9. XML Notepad 2007
    If you find XML scripting task boring, you might want to give XML Notepad 2007 a try. Featuring different colors for different tags and classes, it is developed to make scripting and editing your XML files easier and fun.
  10. Visual Web Developer 2008
    Wannabe website developers have something for them! This program allows you to get as imaginative and diverse as it can possibly get. Tagging along powerful tools, it is one of the easy-to-use web design tools.
  11. Paint.Net
    This is simply a clever, well designed image editing software. Structured on the .NET platform, it is set to take your image editing to an entirely new level.

How many of these have your had a hands on? Which are the other Microsoft programs that are free to use? Do share your experiences with us.

Balsamiq Mockups – Smart tool for those who wants to chill

Balsamiq MockupsOk, here is how it started. I usually hit the whiteboard or the glass-board or even paper and pen to chalk down plans, ideas and visual elements that goes in any project module. I’m not smart enough to use the fancy tools that does things that makes you look smart.

I’ve heard about Balsamiq Mockups before but never tried it seriously. Today, I installed it and tried looking for the limitation of the trail, so I can decide if I should buy it or not. As I could not find it easily and quick enough (yes, I’m lazy too), I emailed Peldi asking him, “What are the limitations of the Balsamiq trial?”

Coupla hours later, I got this reply from Peldi;

Brajeshwar, your money is no good with me! :) After all that you’ve done for the Flash/Flex/FMS community, the least I can do is send you a free license.

Ain’t that awesome. I’m feeling elated and happy — “Wow! Just like that.”

Balsamiq Mockups

Balsamiq Mockups from Balsamiq Studios LLC is a platform independent AIR application (Windows, Mac, Linux). This Mockup tool intentionally uses hand-drawn UI elements, so that people don’t get attached to “that pretty color gradient” or think that your mockup has actual code behind it and is “practically done”.

Using Balsamiq Mockups feels like you are drawing, but it’s digital, so you can tweak and rearrange controls easily, and the end result is much cleaner. Teams can come up with a design and iterate over it in real-time in the course of a meeting.

There are over 60 pre-built controls to choose from, you can design anything from a super-simple dialog box to a full-fledged application, from a simple website to a Rich Internet Application. Browse through the samples or download more Mockups.

Buy Balsamiq Mockups for $79.

Note: The limitation with the Trial was that it won’t let you save your files (but you can still export/import and save it manually).

Getting started with Flex 3

Getting started with Flex 3Jack D. Herrington is an engineer, author and presenter whose mission is to expose his fellow engineers to new technologies. That covers a broad spectrum, from demonstrating programs that write other programs in the book Code Generation in Action. Providing techniques for building customer centered web sites in PHP Hacks. All the way writing a how-to on audio blogging called Podcasting Hacks. All of which make great holiday gifts and are available online here, and at your local bookstore. Jack also writes articles for O’Reilly, DevX and IBM Developerworks.

Emily Kim, President, Trilemtry, Inc., has co-authored and contributed to a number of books including a college-level workbook about the Internet and various ColdFusion books. Besides being a writer, Emily is also a programmer, designer and a Abobe Master Instructor.

Adobe sent me 10 books — Getting started with Flex 3 and I’m giving away all of them to 10 developers who are willing to comment or contact with their name and mailing address.

Getting started with Flex 3

Discover how easy RIA development can be with this one-of-a-kind handbook from the Adobe Developer Library. Several clear, step-by-step mini-tutorials teach you about web services, event handling, designing user interfaces with reusable components, and more. After finishing this guide, you’ll be able to build Flash applications ranging from widgets to full-featured RIAs using the Flex SDK and Flex Builder 3.0.

The book have a quick introduction to the Flex Builer 3 IDE, how to install it and start working with it. Besides the many other small and nifty examples on widgets, plugins, dashboards, desktop apps, there is also a nice Flickr Viewer example which is worth looking if you want to try out some Flickr API and AS3 codes. The book also touches on some of the generic containers — Application, Canvas, Form, Panel, etc.

I would not really rate this as a must-have book but is a good primer for those starting out with Flex 3 or those jumping to Flex 3 from prior version of Flex.

So, comment here or contact me for your free copy. Don’t forget to mention your full name and mailing address. You can ‘optionally’ donate a small amount for the shipping charge via paypal or fund transfer to my bank account but again, that is optional as I’m ready to bear the shipping charges for you anywhere in India.