A ferocious free-for-all among the top web browsers
The landscape is evolving and you can either change with it or be left behind. This is the position browser makers find themselves in as cloud computing and touch interfaces take center stage, as Windows 8 with its vastly overhauled UI continues to wiggle into more homes and businesses around the world, and as web developers push increasing amounts of rich content at site visitors.
Note: This article was originally featured in the December 2013 issue of the magazine.
Windows 8.1: Another year in the oven makes for a tasty piece of meat
Reviewing an update to an operating system feels a little odd, doesn’t it? After all, if you already use Windows 8, it’s not like you’re not going to install Windows 8.1. Sure, there’s always the threat of compatibility issues, but Microsoft seems to have this one covered pretty well with the website (and scanning tool) that it’s dedicated to the Windows 8.1 update.
Adobe’s Lightroom has never been an easy application to explain to the uninitiated, but we’ll give it a shot. Lightroom 4 is, at its core, two things: a DAM (digital asset manager) and a raw-file developer. Sure, it also comes with new or updated modules for mapping and creating books, slide shows, and the like, but the key features are its Library and Develop modules.
Lightroom 4.0 allows you to bulk-edit images quickly so you don’t have to sit in one photo for hours.
F-Secure caught lightning in a bottle, poured it into its scan engine, and then built a security suite around it. When we say this scanner’s fast, we mean buckle up, hold on to the seat of your pants, and hope you don’t get whiplash. F-Secure’s scanner sped through our test bed in just three minutes and 18 seconds the first time around, which is nearly twice as fast as the next-quickest AV suite and more nimble than the second, optimized scans of 60 percent of the other apps in this roundup. During a second scan, F-Secure zipped through our files in a mere 45 seconds.
Webroot used to focus its attention solely on system utilities and antispyware programs, such as Spy Sweeper, arguably it’s most popular product. Starting in 2006, Webroot widened its security net and now offers a fleshed-out lineup of antivirus products, the one reviewed here being its flagship suite.
When you first install BullGuard, you’re prompted to select a notification level. One of the two choices clamps a muzzle on BullGuard, stifling alerts the program can figure out on its own. The other promises more notifications so you’ll always know what the mutt is up to. We say mutt because BullGuard is another security suite that builds on top of someone else’s scan engine. We saw this with ZoneAlarm, which chose to go with Kaspersky, while BullGuard fetched BitDefender’s scan engine, another solid choice.
Sharing the spotlight with ZA’s well-known firewall is Kaspersky’s integrated scan engine. Kaspersky earned a 9 verdict and a Kick Ass award last year, and in our eyes, pairing its scan engine with ZA’s firewall is like hiring Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee as your personal bodyguards. If only they had come dressed for the job.
It’s hard not to look a gift horse in the mouth when you’re told it’s a potential thoroughbred capable of racing in the Kentucky Derby, but later find out it’s limping on two legs short of a set and isn’t even fit for making glue. That’s what we think about ClamWin, a free, open-source antivirus program that comes saddled with “gotchas.”
BitDefender flies in the face of conventional wisdom in more ways than one. Like most security suites, BIS runs the risk of spreading itself too thin by combining antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing, a firewall, parental controls, antispam, and more into a single package. That’s a challenge in and of itself, but BitDefender also attempts to cater to computer users of all skill levels, whether you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate, or expert. A tough challenge, but BitDefender proves up to the task.
Panda holds a ton of promise, and if it weren’t for a few niggling issues, we’d anoint it our favorite security suite. But there are some things that just can’t be ignored, like the same persistent pop-ups we complained about in the 2010 release. It started from the get-go with Panda reminding us that we still needed to activate the program (even though we hadn’t previously been prompted). Shortly after, another pop-up appeared imploring us to register, something that is usually optional. In this case, our choices were to go ahead and register or be reminded at a future date (one day, one week, or one month), with no option to disregard it forever. Bad Panda!