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8hands social networking client for Windows goes beta

8hands beta8hands is a desktop client for keeping up with your contacts on a number of social networking platforms including MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. When I first checked out an alpha version of the application over a year ago, I was impressed with the way it brought information from all of these networks together in once place. This week the 8hands team released a public beta version of the software, and while the interface is a bit prettier, I'm not sure it's any more useful. In fact, I have to say the latest version of 8hands is actually a step backward.

8hands beta does add a few new features that are important, like the ability to reply to twitter contacts, or write on your friends' Facebook walls directly from the 8hands client. But the program is surprisingly short on customization options. For instance, there doesn't appear to be any way to turn off the annoying ringing sound that accompanies every status notification. That means if you have more than a few dozen contacts, odds are you're going to be hearing a ring every few seconds.

And while tools like Digsby and Twhirl let you click a tab just to see replies or messages people have sent to you, 8hands just mushes all of the status updates from all of your friends on every network together. When I logged into 8hands for the first time in about 10 months, the program didn't automatically download the latest updates from my social networks. Instead it told me that my most recent messages were 282 days old. I had to log out of my Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts and sign in again in order to get more recent updates.

A year ago I was excited about 8hands' potential. But it's taken more than 12 months for the team to move the software from alpha to beta and the application is still pretty rough around the edges.

Tags: 8hands, 8hands-beta, freeware, social-networking