2010 has been one heck of a year for software development. We've seen scores of great new apps released and major updates for many of our favorites. "Release early, iterate often" has become the norm -- with alpha and beta downloads coming at us fast and 0.1 becoming the new 1.0.
The speed of change with some apps has been mind-boggling at times. Can you believe that Google Chrome's stable channel began this year at version 3? Let's take a look at some of our favorite apps which released major updates or debuted in 2010!
Winamp also added some killer discovery features
and was one of the first applications to support Google's new WebM container
for video. There's also a new podcast directory powered by MediaFly, Windows 7 shell integration, and iTunes library sync.
We were excited to see some major changes added to one of our favorite utilities when CCleaner 3.0 arrived. In addition to an intelligent cookie scan, new secure disk wipe tool, and Windows 7 jump list support, CCleaner also added a native 64-bit version.
Download CCleaner 3.X
Adobe Flash Player 10.X
Adobe's plug-in took a beating all year long, both from Apple devotees and exploit seekers, but the company did finally come through with hardware acceleration
support and a beta version for 64-bit browsers
. The newer versions of Flash Player also play nice with your browser's private browsing mode and offer greatly improved quality-of-service features. Now if we could just get all the Flash creators out there to make sure they optimize their projects and stop manhandling our CPUs...
Download Flash Player
With an improved disc layout editor
and a snazzy new set of default icons, Lightning UK continued to add polish to ImgBurn in 2010. Blu-ray support was also improved, and loads of bugs and compatibility issues were corrected along the way.
Still the most popular torrent app by a country mile, uTorrent hit version 2 and gave users an updated interface, an App Store
, boss key support, and, of course, promos for the BitTorrent-only sci-fi series Pioneer One
The popular (and still relatively young) cloud storage and sync app finally shed its beta tag and hit version 1.0
. Along the way, Dropbox added simple sharing links and selective sync, got better at memory management, and greatly improved its sync engine.
Dropbox is a great app, but InSync
is worth a closer look for those of you who use Google Docs on a regular basis. Once you've installed InSync, you'll have ready offline access to all the documents you've stored previously on Google Docs. Make a change offline, and InSync automatically uploads the updated file. InSync is still in closed beta, so you'll need to register and wait for access to give it a try.
Sign up for the InSync Beta
Ubuntu One Sync
Wait, a Ubuntu app -- for Windows? Yes indeed. Canonical is serious about competing with Microsoft, and they also know that means they've got to play nice with Windows. The introduction of a Windows client for Ubuntu One
is a significant move for Canonical, and one that makes it easy for Ubuntu users to access their cloud files even when they must work in Windows.
Register for the Ubuntu One Sync Beta
With its branding changed to bear the Oracle moniker, 2010 was also the year VirtualBox hit version 4. With newly-added extension support
, disk resizing, virtual machine shortcuts, and a re-tooled interface, VirtualBox 4 is a solid upgrade over its predecessor. Scores of maintenance releases this year also improved performance and stability and improved VirtualBox's Guest Additions.
Many of us don't need a big, multi-site app just for keeping an eye on our Twitter streams. MetroTwit offers a clean interface and loads of handy features like username and hashtag auto-completion, URL expansion and auto-shortening for pasted links, desktop notifications, and loads more. It's hard to believe Long Zheng and Co. only dropped the first beta back in May.
Despite the recent outage
, Skype is still king of the hill when it comes to Internet voice and video chat. This year the company added group video calls
, Facebook contact integration, improved quality of service controls, automatic call recovery, and better screen sharing.
Windows Live Essentials 2011
Microsoft's Live application bundle is packed with apps like Windows Live Mail, Messenger, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, Live Mesh, and Family Safety, and the 2011 versions offer loads of new features and improvements. From Facebook integration in Messenger to a more Outlook-like Live Mail to easy online sharing with Movie Maker and Photo Gallery, Live Essentials 2011 is a nice suite of applications.
Download Windows Live Essentials
Apart from offering faster uploads and an improved interface, Mozy 2.0 brought one very, very important addition. The backup tool began offering 2X Protect, which allows users to simultaneously upload to the Mozy cloud and save to an external hard drive. Redundancy is a key component of maintaining good backups, after all!
CloudApp caused quite a stir when it arrived for Mac -- and while the same can't be said for its Windows cousin, FluffyApp is still a great little screenshot sharing tool. It's also good at sharing files and URLs, too -- just drag and drop them onto the cloud icon in your system tray!
MBAM was already an amazing malware clean-up tool for Windows, and the arrival of version 1.5
made it even better. With faster scanning speeds and improved detection rates, Malwarebytes remains our "tank" when we need to do battle with malicious software
Immunet Protect, Microsoft Security Essentials, and Panda Cloud Antivirus
With the Internet threat landscape changing faster than ever, it's nice to know that the developers we rely on to protect us are doing their best to make sure we stay protected
. This year we saw big improvements from a number of security apps -- like top-rated Microsoft Security Essentials
, Panda's lightweight Cloud Antivirus
, and Immunet Protect
, the first "companion antivirus" program.
Download Immunet Protect
Download Microsoft Security Essentials
Download Panda Cloud Antivirus
Freemake Video Converter
Searching for software to convert videos for viewing on your iPad, iPhone, or Android device can lead you to some pretty scary places on the Internet. When we find a good, hassle-free app that gets the job done with no strings attached, we're happy campers. That's the case with Freemake Video Converter
-- which can download Web clips and convert just about any video for playback on just about any device.
Download Freemake Video Converter
The geek-favorite media player delivered several new features this year, from hardware acceleration
, to WebM support, to extension support, to Game Music Engine playback
. It's a great video app to recommend to your friends and family -- especially the ones who keep getting tricked into installing bogus codecs and asking you to fix their computers.
Ahh, Teamviewer... How we love the way you provide hassle-free connections to remote computers. Version 6
makes it even easier to support your friends and family (or access your personal computers at home) with features like "reconnect after reboot" and improved looks and performance.
The "anti-frustration" application debuted at Disrupt this year, and its social take on PC maintenance
has a lot of potential. Right now, Soluto focuses on helping you improve your system's startup speed -- though it's a safe bet that their development team is going to be adding more frustration-busting features in 2011.
Easus Partition Master
At this stage of the game, supporting 64-bit Windows versions is a must -- which is why we were excited when Easus Partition Master added x64 support
to its free disk partitioning tool. It's a great tool which offers some very useful features you won't find in the Windows Disk Management snap-in.
Download Easus Partition Master
You may not have heard of Dexpot before -- it's a lightweight utility for creating additional virtual "screens" for your Windows desktop. Virtual desktops have been a Linux staple for ages, but they can be incredibly useful on Windows, too -- especially since Dexpot added super-slick Windows 7 taskbar integration
features in its updates this year.
One thing I liked about my HTC Incredible from the get-go was its snazzy weather and time widget. HTC Home brings a similar experience to your Windows desktop -- and it packs a nice mix of functionality and good looks.
Download HTC Home
Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 9, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera 11
Few programs underwent as many changes this year as the big four Windows Web browsers. Google, Mozilla, and Opera pushed more updates than you could shake a stick at, and Microsoft finally delivered their first public downloads of a much-improved Internet Explorer. As 2010 winds down, all four browsers have delivered increases in speed and security, new privacy features, support for emerging HTML5 specifications, and paved the way for more desktop-like 3D experiences on the Web.
Due to so many changes and updates this year, all four browsers are very nearly as good as each other. If you're still using IE8 -- or something even older -- you should really consider picking up one of the browsers below.
Download Google Chrome
Download Internet Explorer 9 beta
Download Mozilla Firefox 3.6
or Firefox 4.0 beta
Download Opera 11