There is little I enjoy more than coming to Maximum PC each week to dish out a new dose of freeware and open-source software for all to enjoy. But, I confess, it's been tough times as of late-I feel as if I've covered every inch of the ol' PC ad nauseum and, as such, am running low on witty or interesting themes with which to structure these freeware roundups.
But before I would work myself into a tizzy over my failure to compartmentalize this week's apps, I remembered something: You, the readers, are awesome. So much so, that you've actually gone and done a great job of coming up with some awesome applications all by yourselves. From games, to apps to utilities, you've left few stones unturned in your various replies to my weekly freeware roundups.
And, thus, I am writing this week's freeware roundup in your honor. Not only am I profiling some of the awesome programs you've recommended, but I'm profiling the recommenders as well! And by that I mean that you, too, could be enshrined in the hallowed halls of the weekly freeware roundup-just keep leaving program tips in the comments!
Maximum PC commenter PCmike threw out the mention of this neat-looking, free-to-play MMO title--or, really, a quasi-MMO title. For you don't just jump into a giant virtual world a-swords swinging. When I checked out the game, I found that it reminded me a lot of good ol' Demigod, in that you control a team of badass heroes (and cannon-fodder creatures) in a strategy-based battle with the ultimate goal of nuking an opposing team's central hub. How you actually do that can be accomplished any number of ways... get creative, but most importantly, get this game!
Simple, easy, efficient-that's always the mark of an excellent free PC utility, and MPC commenter JimHanus has knocked one out of the park with his recommendation of WizMouse. What's WizMouse? In short, it unlocks your mouse's scroll wheel (provided you have one) to untold levels of usefulness-or, at least, as useful as a scroll wheel could possibly be. You'll now be able to move your mouse cursor over open windows and, without even clicking on them first, scroll through the contents with the mouse wheel alone. As well, WizMouse claims to, "Enable the mouse wheel in applications that don't support mouse wheels," which is itself awesome as well.
Congrats, your desktop is now a planet, thanks to MPC commenter advgmni. His recommendation, SphereXP, turns your boring ol' two-dimensional Windows desktop into a fully scrollable, 3D sphere. Fly through your open windows and items as if they were a blemish spinning around a marble. Neater still, your desktop elements retain a curvature that simulates their look and feel were they actually glued onto the side of a giant rolling object. Enjoy the increased desktop space, but don't ask me to calculate it; geometry was never my strong suit...
For the customization-crazy PC user, MPC forum commenter festiva_man has run across a quick and easy way to change your Windows 7 logon screen to any kind of image you want, period. Fire up Tweaks Logon Changer and select an image of your choosing. That's it. The software takes care of all the behind-the-scenes efforts that go into replacing the dull old image behind Windows 7's default logon screen with your new custom creation. You'll be the envy of your password-cracking peers, I promise.
I won't say a thing about your choice of WYSIWYG Web editors. It's OK; not all of us are as proficient at hand-coding as others. Sometimes, we might need a little bit of a boost in the form of an easy-to-understand, graphical Web editing tool just to get our to-be-created websites off the ground. MPC user novaroach has politely noted that Microsoft's Sharepoint Designer 2007-the name-changed "successor" to its Frontpage application-is free for the taking from Microsoft's official site. If that's not enough to get you up and HTMLing, I don't know what is!
David Murphy (@ Acererak) is a technology journalist and former Maximum PC editor. He writes weekly columns about the wide world of open-source as well as weekly roundups of awesome, freebie software. Befriend him on Twitter, especially if you have an awesome app or game you're dying to recommend!