Category: Desktop Software

Windows 10 to arrive at the end of July. Maybe

AMD logoThe CEO of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) appears to have spilled the beans on the date Windows 10 will be introduced.

At last week’s conference call to discuss AMD’s rather dismal earnings,CEO Lisa Su said that Windows 10 will arrive at the end of July.

Whether that’s the due date is a different matter – typically as one of Microsoft’s partners, AMD is likely to get advance notice of the introduction.

Windows 10 was originally supposed to launch in Autumn and that could still be on the cards.

It takes some time for Microsoft to prime its channel and its market partners with product – typically an introduction in September is more likely to catch the back to school wave.

However, Windows 10 is already late and it’s entirely feasible it is bringing the date forward.

Microsoft is hoping for big things from Windows 10 after Windows 8.x was greeted with an air of indifference by many because of its design. Microsoft is going back to basics and it hopes people will like Windows 10 as much as they liked Windows 7 and Windows XP, and it hopes people will not dislike the next operating system as much as they disliked Vista and Windows 8.x.

40 years on, Open Source Windows could happen

microsoft-open-sourceAs Microsoft celebrated its 40th Birthday over the weekend, a debate has started up over whether the company could be moving to an Open Source version of Windows.

Top exec Mark Russinovich, who is one of the company’s leading engineers said it is a “new Microsoft” and an open source Windows was definitely possible.
Russinovich helped build Windows, and he carries one of the most respected titles at the world’s largest software company: Microsoft Technical Fellow.

Talking to ChefConf he said that few companies run one stop shops and many Microsoft customers—are now relying on open source code.

“That means Microsoft must embrace it too. Microsoft allows Linux on its Azure cloud computing service, a way of renting computers over the internet, and today, Linux is running on at least 20 percent of those computers,” he said.

Russinovich said it was necessary, and given how popular Linux has become, Microsoft could go even further, not only allowing open source software on its cloud services, but actually turning Windows into open source software.

“Every conversation you can imagine about what we should do with our software—open versus not-open versus services—has happened,” he says.

Microsoft is already giving away one version of Windows for free and although not sharing the underlying code, it has also open sourced other important pieces of its software empire.

If Vole open sourced Windows, the code would be easier to test, shape, and build into something else. And if the OS is more widely used, that means a bigger audience for the Microsoft applications that run on Windows.

In the end, Russinovich says, this will help Microsoft sell other stuff. The OS would still make money because business would still need a vendor who can package, distribute, and update the OS.

Belgium challenges software patents

atomium-BelgiumBelgium, normally a highway for Germans wanting to get into France, is sticking a spanner in one of the attempts to bring in software patents into the EU.

The European Software Market Association (ESOMA) and others have asked Belgium’s Constitutional Court to block the Unitary Patent which was an attempt to legalise software patents in Europe.

ESOMA believes that the Unitary Patent denies Belgians equality before the law, discriminates on basis of language, violates the separation of powers, and is an illegal political manoeuvre by the European Patent Office.

One of the plaintiffs, Benjamin Henrion, is a fifteen-year campaigner against software patents in Europe. He says: “The Unitary Patent is the third major attempt to The EPO-controlled European Patent Court will become the Eastern District of Texas when it comes to software patent disputes in Europe. As happened in America, the concentration of power will force up legal costs, punish small European innovators, and benefit large patent holders.”

Another plaintiff, ESOMA founder and chairman Pieter Hintjens, added that, “in 2007 we showed how this plan would raise costs by at least four times.

“The EPO plans to put a loaded gun to the head of every software business in Europe, squeeze the trigger, and ask politely for money.”Protecting innovation” is a euphemism for a climate of fear, a system of mass extortion called ‘mandatory licensing’ for the EPO and their friends,” he said.”

The law will encourage a regime where firms licensing “inventions” is much more lucrative than making real products.

Hintjens said:”The sociopathic patent system has attacked US businesses for decades. At least the US Supreme Court can fix the worse offenses. In Europe we will be left defenceless. The Unitary Patent Court is free from all oversight. It is a looming nightmare.”

Attacking the law in Belgium is because the Dutch-speaking population of Belgium was long denied the right to legal defence in their own language and Articles 10 and 11 of the Belgian Constitution ban such discrimination.

The EPO-controlled court will operate in English, French, and German. While the EPO axis threatens freedom of business across Europe, Belgium is our home, and a good place to make a stand.

Microsoft dragged kicking and screaming into the ODF

bride-dragging-groom-to-altar2Software giant Microsoft has been dragged kicking and screaming into the Open Documents format.

Microsoft has confirmed it will start supporting the Open Documents Format (ODF) in the next update to Office 365, following a lengthy battle against the UK government.

In 2014, Microsoft went against the government’s request to support ODF, claiming its own XML format was more widely adopted. The UK government said that ODF allows users should not be boxed into one ecosystem.

Microsoft Office documents can only be opened with a few applications. Google Docs has a conversion tool for changing the format, but other productivity suites like Apple’s iWork and LibreOffice cannot use Microsoft Office documents.

The Government’s victory over Vole forces it to allow users outside the Office ecosystem to download, view and edit documents without owning Office or subscribing to Office 365.

Microsoft has had to backtrack because of the UK government’s repeated court trials demanding the open standard be brought onto Office. So far Microsofthas not confirmed whether this update will be available worldwide, or just in the UK.

Adobe intros Slate app

Adobe SlateSoftware firm Adobe said it has introduced a free iPad app which it reckons can turn your words and images into nice looking Web content.

The app is called Slate and Adobe claims the content you create can adapt to any device whether it’s a PC, a smartphone or a tablets.

You can also share the content using text messages, email, to put on Facebook or embed on websites.

Adobe provides professionally designed themes, photo layouts, links to online sites such as “donate now” or “learn more”.

Adobe executive Paul Gubbay said that Slate is born out of Adobe Voice and because of its move to the cloud, and uses the software expertise of its developers and engineers.

Adobe has also introduced updates to Adobe Voice today.

We take Office 2011 Beta 4 for Mac for a spin

Office 2008 for Mac was unpopular because it removed support for VBA (Visual Basic for Applications); thus macros in Office 2004 documents were no longer useable. For this reason, many companies and individuals refused to upgrade and are still using Office 2004, a striking parallel to Windows users’ unwillingness to upgrade to the MS Vista platform.

The fourth (closed) beta of the upcoming Office 2010 for Mac package, a whopping 1.4 GB download, includes the usual MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint, but also MS Outlook for Mac ((finally), MS Communicator (which seems to be a rebranded MS Messenger for Mac 8) and Remote Desktop Connection for Mac.

Office 2011 finally marks the return of platform parity for Mac users and also brings a host of new features outlined below.

The installation package, which is only available in a 32-bit version, runs smoothly and seems well-designed, appealing to the Mac user community. The beta can be used for free for 30 days without a license key once a valid email-address is entered.

On the surface, as in previous betas, the apps include a new icon set that employs more legible typography. There is also a well-designed and graphically souped-up wizard explaining new features and asking what you would like to do. The new installer and wizard graphics remind one heavily of the Adobe product line.

For Word, new features touted include the Ribbon which is migrated from the Windows version of Office, co-authoring features, a new publishing layout, full screen view, visual style guides and dynamic reordering. There is also a link to video tutorials.

The new publishing layout turns Word into a desktop publishing tool and can be used to create brochures and pamphlets, but presumably also for designing simple webpages. A long list of useable templates are included with Word 2011. The insert menu has been optimised, allowing you to easily insert multimedia or HTML objects into Word documents. The formatting toolbar seems increasingly useable and basic formatting is noticeably more efficient than on Word 2008 after only a small adjustment period of 5-10 minutes. Overall the new Word is impressive indeed.

Only few changes were visible to Powerpoint 2011 at this time, except for expanded media options, which include the option to broadcast a slideshow and to record audio. But don’t expect much from this — the recording features are as basic as it gets. The most interesting new feature is “rehearse” which allows you to practice the timing of slides ahead of time.

MS Excel now also features a wizard, more easy-to-use templates (i.e. for financial planning or invoicing), pivot tables, sparklines, conditional formatting, and the return of VBA. Here also the menu has been given a great deal of thought. A sample MS Excel 2004 file with macros opened without any problems which could lead many of us to express a giant sigh of relief.

Go Microsoft, for getting it right — Redmond, it’s about time.

Concluding Remarks

All in all, Office for Mac 2011 won’t disappoint. In fact all the signs point to MS getting back on track — Windows 7, Office 2010 for Windows, the upcoming IE9 and Office 2011 for Mac are all, or will soon be noteworthy products.

Unfortunately these improved software packages do not seem to be a result of long-term strategic thinking, but rather should be interpreted as responses to consumer and corporate upgrade refusal combined with fierce competition by Apple, Google, Mozilla and Adobe.

In the computer software industry there are three key success factors: access to consumers, quality and innovation. Given the oligopolistic competition in this sector, MS does not have to worry about access to customers, but the other two factors are unavoidable: for a healthy future, Microsoft should adopt kaizen,the Japanese management culture of continuous improvement, in all of its product lines and focus on continuous quality and innovation.

We try out the BitDefender 2011 Beta

Product: BitDefender 2011 Beta

Price: TBC

TechEye was invited to take part in the beta program for BitDefender 2011. We decided to test it out on a laptop with a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, and running Windows 7 64-bit.

The 64-bit version of the software was 258MB in size, while the 32-bit version was 220.3MB. Once downloaded we began the installation process.

Before it installs it runs a scan for malware, which took us just over two minutes to complete. This is pretty handy, as there have been numerous problems reported over the years of infections that occured before antivirus programs were installed not being detected in virus scans or even hindering the installation of the program in the first place. Thankfully enough it did not find any security threats on our test laptop, which we hope is because there are none and not that it failed to detect them.

It then asked us to uninstall our current antivirus software, Avast, and turn off the Windows Firewall and Windows Defender. The “Uninstall” button was blocked by the bottom frame of the installation wizard, however, making it difficult to do what BitDefender recommended. It took several minutes for it to remove the current antivirus software and disable the firewalls.

We were then given a choice between entering a product key, obviously not available in the beta, or using the 30 day trial. We selected the latter, which required us to log into the BitDefender website. From here we could also set up an online backup service of 2GB.

The next step is to choose a view for the product. Only two are currently available in the beta, Basic and Intermediate. Basic hides a lot of the technical stuff and is more suited for people who want the program to do most of the work. Intermediate is customizable and provides a lot more info for those who want to fiddle about with the settings. The name suggests there should be an Advanced view, but none was available in the beta.

You can then choose further configurations, including parental control, game mode, and laptop mode. Because our test computer is a laptop it automatically selected the latter.

A help and support feature is available on the next panel that allows users to display tooltips and get customer support via e-mail.

The final part of the installation process gave a run-down of our chosen settings and allowed us to set up a regular security check-up. We decided to tick the full system scan after installation box to see what it came up with and how long it took. We also set up a regular scan for every Sunday at 2:00am, the default date and time selected.

Finally it began to actually install the product. This is a pretty long installation process that may irritate the casual customer, and all of this is happening while our previous antivirus software is being removed and our firewalls are taken down, leaving a window of exposure that is much longer than necessary. The actual installation itself took only a few seconds and the program immediately started the full system scan.

BitDefender displayed a rather distressing estimated time of 174 hours to go at first, dropping to 61 hours after four minutes and then only 18 minutes left after six minutes. How it calculates these things and comes up with such varying figures is beyond us, but customers may feel inclined to cancel the scan when first faced with such long estimated scan times. Initially it was scanning 15 files a second, but this jumped to between 32 and 230 files a second when it finally realised it should be doing a little better.

While the scan was completing we got a message from the BitDefender Firewall about “Bonjour Service”. We ignored this for several minutes, but BitDefender decided to  flash the Firewall popup every minute or so as a reminder, which was really annoying, as we were busy trying to figure out what the heck Bonjour Service actually is. After a quick search we realised it is an Apple service for recognising IP networks. We were tempted to say “bon voyage” and click Block, but BitDefender assured us that the service was both clean and legitimate.

After we sorted out the Apple invasion we checked the scan again and were dismayed to find the scanned files per second had dropped from its previous number in the 200s to a paltry one file. It did not stay long here, jumping to 7 and then 18 after about half a minute, but we were left puzzled as to why some more consistency cannot be maintained in the scan process. Hey, that’s software.

Our supposedly uninstalled Avast antivirus software forced BitDefender Firewall to give us a popup about an update procedure. Perhaps that was Avast trying to lure us back, but we decided to block that update process for now.

The full scan took just over 42 minutes, which is not bad and certainly much better than its initial estimates. It found no threats. What was annoying, however, was that it did not keep the total scan time on the screen. As soon as the scan was finished everything reset to 00:00:00, which is not good if you went out for a bit and left it at work and wanted to find out later just how long it had been slaving away. It also only had Pause, Stop, and Cancel buttons, even though the scan was complete. Surely that Pause button should have changed to Finish or Close. We decided to click Stop and it warned us about interrupting the scan process, a process that BitDefender couldn’t seem to realise was finished. We clicked Yes on the warning screen, but it failed to do anything, so we ended up just clicking the X in the top right-hander corner to get out of that window.
BitDefender 2011 Beta
We loaded up the general client from our taskbar to mess about with the new user interface. Since we opted for the Intermediate view we had tabs for Dashboard, Security, Tune-up, and File Storage. 

The Dashboard showed Status Details on the left-hand panel which mostly repeated the buttons of the tabs across the top. In the main screen there were several empty boxes under the heading of My Tools. We clicked this and it brought up a menu to add tasks like a full or quick scan. These effectively became shortcut buttons to our most used features. We added Full System Scan, Quick Scan, Registry Cleaner, Backup Online, and Update now, but it can be customised for the individual. Beneath these boxes was a Smart Tips tab since we enabled it in the configuration earlier.

The Security tab gave a run-down of the active protections in BitDefender, including Antivirus, Update status, Firewall status, Antispam status, and Antiphishing status. We could choose a standard virus scan from here, but there is also an option for a vulnerability scan, which is basically a quick search to see how up to date your operating system is. It found seven critical updates and told us to click Next, but unfortunately there was no Next button, no matter how hard we tried to find it. Clearly the normal Windows Update service is a bit more efficient at this process.

The Tune-up tab gave several options for optimising system performance, including a Registry Cleaner, PC Clean-up, Duplicate Finder, and Disk Defragmenter. There was also a Registry Recovery and File Shredder feature available from the left-hand panel. We gave the Registry Cleaner a go. This was much faster than the scan, taking arund two minutes to complete. It found a few dozen registry keys that it believed should be deleted.

The Back-up tab allowed us to backup our files locally as well as to the 2GB of storage space online that we set up in the installation. There were also several options for adding, removing, and locking files in the BitDefender Vault.

As a final test we decided to give the Quick Scan a whirl. The tooltip said this “in-the-cloud scanning” often takes less than 60 seconds, but our scan took two and half minutes. 

BitDefender 2011 has a slew of interesting features and lots of potential, but it definitely needs to iron outa lot of creases in this beta. The program itself loads quickly and has no visible lag moving between the interface screens, but it really needs to tune-up its virus scan speeds.

 

BitDefender 2011 Beta

We expose Photoshop Lightroom 3

Product: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

Price: $299 new, $99 upgrade

Adobe announced the release of Photoshop Lightroom 3 today and we got our hands on it for review.

Lightroom is Photoshop aimed purely at photographers. While the normal version of Photoshop can do a lot in terms of image manipulation, it does not cater specifically to a photographer’s needs, such as adjusting filters and exposure. Photoshop Lightroom 3 does.

What we noticed when first loading the program is the option to Import. This can immediately grab a ton of photos and display them on the bottom panel, while you work on a single one in the centre. This can be very handy for comparison, especially when working on a series of photos. I was able to load nearly 500 photos within seconds. This is vastly superior to the import feature of previous versions.

Once you’ve loaded up an image, which happens very quickly, much moreso than the normal version of Photoshop and previous versions of Lightroom, there are a number of buttons available to make selecting the best from a photoshoot really simple. You can arrange the photos in a grid, single view, a comparison of two shots, or a survey of many more. There are then two buttons that allow you to flag the photo as a “pick” or flag it as rejected. This can make sorting through long series of photos extremely easy, especially when you’ve taken multiple shots of the same thing and want to get rid of ones that were out of focus or where the lighting is beyond correction. You can also rotate and rate pictures from this central panel.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

The navigator on the upper left hand corner may seem similar to the one in normal Photoshop, but in addition to normal zooming in and out Lightroom allows you to pick default aspect ratios, which makes it very handy to get the size and zoom level you want.

Beneath that there are options for creating catalogues, folders, collections, and publishing your work to your hardrive,  or even Flickr for those who like to share there. The Flickr integration is a new feature of this version not present in Lightroom 2.

The upper right-hand panel contains what is probably the most vital display for a photographer: the histogram. A histogram is like a graph that displays the proportion of light and shade that is distributed around the picture, which is really what photography is all about. The ability to easily see this in a technical form makes adjusting exposure on the photo much easier and gives the photographer a lot more control over how the final product turns out.

The histogram panel also provides other vital information about the photo, including the ISO speed rating, the focal length, aperture, and shutter speed. This can be particularly handy if you’ve mislayed the information or are trying to compare photos that were taken with the same setup on your digital SLR camera.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

Beneath the histogram is a panel with some handy “Quick Develop” tools. A variety of filters and effects are available here. The white balance, exposure, clarity, and vibrance can all be adjusted quickly and easily from here. The histogram instantly updates to reflect the changes in light that are now affecting the picture.

Below the developing tools are a series of panels for adding keywords, tags, and adjusting the metadata of the picture, which is important for ensuring the date taken and copyright information are added for a professional photographer.

A seperate Develop tab at the upper right-hand corner allows more detailed changes to be made. When we clicked this tab there was a bit of lag before it loaded, but no more than a couple of seconds.  This tab gives a lot of options for fine-tuning, including the familiar cropping and red-eye removal tools, but also a ton of more photographer-specific adjustors for colour, tone, and presence. A casual photographer could easily make do with the Quick Develop feature on the standard tab, however.

The menu buttons give a lot of similar options that normal Photoshop does, along with repeats of the quick access buttons found on the many panels around your photos, but there are also a number of interesting features that expand upon the others. There is auto-toning and auto white balance, handy if you’re in a hurry, but not something a serious photographer keen to keep control of his or her work would use often. There’s also colour labels you can use to make things feel more like a set of manila folders all nicely colour-coded for your project. More options for sorting your library and editing the metatags of your photos can also be explored through these menus.

This new version of Lightroom comes with a slew of new features, including much better noise reduction to sharpen images up considerably. It also comes with lens and perspective correction to fix distortions that might otherwise make your photography look extremely odd. Watermarking is also thrown in, which is essential if you’re concerned about your work being stolen. Another neat addition is the ability to add grain to a photo to give it a vintage look for that series of photos you’re doing about the interaction between the past and the present.

An interesting new addition is tethered capturing, which will automatically import photos as you take them, providing you’re hooked up to your computer via USB. The potential here allows for you to instantly adjust the photo on your laptop or retake it if Lightroom cannot achieve what you want. We found this makes it a little awkward to take the shots you’re looking for, however, and preferred to manually import them afterwards. Lugging your laptop around with you to tether capture is not exactly every photographer’s cup of tea.

The update with the most impact in this package is definitely the speed boost, however. Older versions of the software could lag pretty badly at times when trying to deal with a large volume of photos. Apart from small lag when switching between the main screen tabs Photoshop Lightroom 3 is a very speedy application, a fact that many photographers will greatly appreciate.

Photoshop Lightroom 3 could easily replace the traditional darkroom of photographers and offers many incentives to do so. It is much more difficult, if not impossible, to destroy a digital picture being adjusted in Lightroom than it is to ruin a physical copy in a darkroom. Photographers working regularly with a digital SLR camera are missing a lot if they’re not using Photoshop Lightroom 3.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

MindGenius sorts out your mess of a brain

Mindgenius 3.1
Education pack – £57 [Single user license]
Business pack – £147 [Single user license]

Brainstorming is a pretty well known technique – typically, as you probably know, a group of people or an individual has a beginning point which branches off in all directions. Those branches have subsequent branches, etc etc. Typically, though, it does not order them or keep on track of them.

Anyone who’s done office work is probably familiar with walls full of post-its upon post-its, each with ideas or comments on the previous post-it. The nature of the human brain, says Mindgenius’ Dustin Newport, is chaotic and that’s why these techniques work for us. We can instantly jot down any idea, and later organise them along with notes and try to make sense of them, to eventually form into a linear structure that’s easier to make sense of.

MindGenius 3.1 does this for you. Instead of plonking down every idea randomly, MindGenius works in sequence to create a digital “mind map” so you can easily see where ideas have come from, where they’re going, later group them into  categories with the click of a button, and eventually filter them down into what you need, easily and digitally.

The idea, says Dustin, is to “support a gathering of thoughts with a view for output.” MindGenius caters, a la brainstorming, to how chaotically the human mind works and groups ideas, but makes it simple and easy to view them back on screen. Computers and computer applications work in a very left-brained, linear way – lists and organising. Of course, the right side of the human brain is visual and creative, and it’s proved that memory is increased tenfold when presented data visually.

Your blank MindMap starts with one keyword. When your word association kicks in, simply type in the next keyword and MindGenius will branch it off to the right. Keep going, and you’ll have more branches than you know what to do with, each of which can be branched off themselves.

Here’s the demo map for reference:

My mind doesn't look like this.

Best of all, once you’ve grouped your categories, or done what you like with your map, you can export it seemlessly to Excel, Word or Enterprise with all your data neatly arranged according to your filters, selected categories or keywords. It’s also possible to export your map to an HTML file for easy sharing, with a basic framed template and a table on the side with all listed categories and sub-categories. It works the other way round too – spreadsheets can be loaded into the map and organised that way.

Trying out MindGenius, the only thing that’s tough about it is getting used to typing brief keywords instead of notes. It works on the Microsoft Office Ribbon UI so should be familiar to most, and fit in easily with all other office applications.

There is infinite scalability which means you can add as many notes as you want, hundreds, thousands, or even more. We were demonstrated how the entire coding of MindGenius itself fit into a MindMap – there were over 10,000 entries and it was easy to zoom from the front end way into the tiniest intricacies.

The most obvious potential use for MindGenius is business execs – it’s an easy way to show plans to clients and quickly involve them in the positioning of notes or points. It can also be broadcast over Netviewer or WebEx, giving direct access to a plan to an entire organisation without the need for sending around PowerPoint files or amends – planning can be shown in realtime.

While MindGenius certainly has value for the average computer user – be it to keep notes or simply keep more organised – the users who will gain the most will be project managers, business professionals with a need for easy presentation and organisation, and crucially, University students. Compare a MindMap to any given student’s notepad from your nearest Uni and there will be a big difference when it comes to ease of indexing and organising output.

Personally I found it an intriguing and useful tool, impressively coded, but perhaps not for my field of work. I’m too trained into scribbling down every thought of mine in cumbersome language to untrain myself and rely on quick and easy keywords, though I suspect it will differ for many.

It’s definitely worth a try if you’re not the most organised person, or worth a try anyway. A free 30 day trial with full functionality is available on the MindGenius website. 

TuneUp 2010 revives old dud of a machine

TuneUp Utilities 2010 – $49.95 (trial available)

Having been raised on DOS and defragging and refragging and registry cleanups and windows installs and manually reformatting PCs again and again and again and over and over and over to try and squeeze the last life out of the buggers, I’ve always been strangely sceptical of optimisation software. Which is stupid, because as I’ve just learned, they really take the pain out of it for you,

TuneUp Utilities 2010 is a ridiculously easy to use and powerful product, bringing together all the stuff you can do to make your PC run that much smoother in a slick and minimal UI. A quick and dirty analysis of your rig’s shortcomings takes about a minute, and as soon as it’s done you’re presented with a bunch of options to make it run faster.

That green tick makes the pain go away.

While many of the options presented to you won’t be a surprise to those familiar with Windows, having them all in front of you and explained in laymens is a nice touch. I said “OK, whatever” to everything and let TuneUp get to it.

It took about a good five minutes to be through with. That’s to say, it cleaned up my admittedly cluttered registry, defrag’d my registry, got rid of broken shortcuts, deleted cached and temp files I didn’t want or need, boosted my system startup and shutdown by getting rid of crap that I manually closed every single time I booted up and defrag’d my hard drive. Again, all fairly obvious stuff to keep in mind, but the kind of thing I, and I suspect other PC users, get lazy about – I had recently doomed my laptop to the dangerous mindset of “It’s borked. Oh well.” My laptop is still borked, but it’s borked a hell of a lot faster and runs really smoothly.

A report shows you just how lazy you've been.

One feature I really dig about TuneUp 2010 is the ‘Turbo Mode’ – while conjuring up images of third-party joysticks from the Amiga days, it promises a lot more than you’d think it does. By putting turbo mode on, TuneUp disables or lowers the priority of all the other system processes in the background, meaning you can get along smoothly with whatever heavy-duty application you happen to be running at the time.

This sits neatly in your taskbar for instant info.

TuneUp Utilities isn’t essential, but it’s damn useful and it’s got a recommendation from the Eye.

Review machine: Acer Ferrari 5000, AMD Turion 64 X2, 2GB Memory, Windows Vista