If you're anticipating Valve's upcoming zombie shooter Left 4 Dead (and if you're a gamer, then you probably are), then Valve has an offer it hopes you can't refuse. The publisher has released its Valve Complete Pack on Steam, a collection of titles which, if purchased separately, would run $235. Valve's asking price checks in at less than half that at $100.
In addition to Left 4 Dead, the Benjamin buys you Counter Strike, Counter Strike: Condition Zero, Counter Strike: Source, Day of Defeat, Day of Defeat: Source, Deathmatch Classic, Half Life, Half Life 2, Half Life 2: Deathmatch, Half Life 2: Episode One, Half Life 2: Episode Two, Half Life 2: Lost Coast, Half Life Deathmatch: Source, Half Life: Blue Shift, Half Life: Opposing Force, Half Life: Source, Peggle Extreme, Portal, Richochet, Team Fortress 2, and Team Fortress Classic. In other words, enough titles to give your broadband connection a good workout.
Word on the web is that you can gift duplicate titles you already own, but if that's you're intention, you may want to confirm this with Steam before plunking down the cash (we'll post an update if we receive confirmation).
Update November 21, 2008
Four days after sending in our support inquiry, Steam Support has informed us that gifting duplicate titles only applies to a handful of specific situations, none of which appear to include the Complete Pack. More information here.
Given the widespread availability of free solutions, we know how power users hate to pay for security software. If you fall into this category, your options will become slightly more robust this Tuesday, November 18.
According to a spattering of reports, a company spokeswoman for Check Point said the company plans to celebrate its 15th anniversary by giving away a 1-year subscription to its ZoneAlarm Pro software security suite. For those not familiar with the program, ZoneAlarm Pro expands on the company's popular firewall solution by throwing in a spyware remover, protection against rootkits, ID theft protection, and other security odds and ends. The full program typically sells for $40/year.
If the reports hold true, you can download your copy from this link beginning at 6:00 AM PDT Tuesday morning. Procrastinators be warned, the link will only stay active for 24 hours.
Microsoft lobbed another artillery shell towards brick and mortar retailers on Thursday with the debut of its new U.S. online marketplace. Microsoft has been slowly expanding its direct to consumer sales channel over the past several months and launched its first pilot program in the UK and Germany back in July. Currently the online marketplace offers everything from Mice and Keyboards to Xbox games and consoles. Landmark PC software products such as Windows and Office will also naturally be made available.
A disproportionately large percentage of our readers have been shopping on Newegg and Tiger Direct for years. And the idea of buying items online isn’t all that unique to most of us. Perhaps the most interesting new feature of the online marketplace however, is the option to download software and install it without the need for the physical media. Downloaded software can be burned by the customer to a DVD, but this process is optional. Microsoft will also allow repeat downloads of its software, and offer remote access to product keys. According to Microsoft’s Trevin Chow; "There is no longer any need to pay for shipping costs and waiting for the big brown truck to drive across the country."
We all know that online software distribution is hardly a novel concept, and people have been downloading productivity software and OS’s such as Open Office and Linux for years. Despite these facts however, this is still a huge step for the Redmond based software giant and a further reminder that internet distribution is here to stay. Let’s just hope they find new ways to compress this stuff. I’m not sure how much more of this my bandwidth cap will take!
If you haven't noticed the general collapse of the financial system around you, coupled with the massive switch to corporate cost-savings mechanisms (including a healthy dose of "rightsizing" by every company under the sun), then you need to stop playing Wrath of the Lich King and flip on the news. Money is important, but perhaps never as important to the general corporate well-being as right now.
It's no surprise then that good ol' open source hardware and software platforms are being thrown into the mix now more than ever. Semantic arguments aside, the open source movement is generally consider a cheaper, if not free alternative to proprietary, commercial software in the enterprise market. But that doesn't mean that open-source software comes without a cost, nor are these companies necessarily immune to the financial movements of the technological industry. So where, then, does open-source development rest in the spectrum? Can these solutions do enough to save the bottom lines of big business? Or are open-source companies just as doomed by a market slowdown as the software vendors on the other side of the fence?
It's an all-too-familiar marketing ploy: download a utility you really want, and get a toolbar for your browser free. This week, Microsoft joined the "download one, get one free" bandwagon, but with a twist: Redmond announced a deal with Sun Microsystems to offer the MSN Toolbar to US users of Internet Explorer whenever they download the Java Runtime Environment. MSN Toolbar offers one-click access to Live Search, direct access to Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger, and stories from the MSN network. If you hate toolbars, or your browser's already running your favorite toolbar, you can opt out of the MSN toolbar.
This Microsoft plus Sun pairing represents a big "win" for Microsoft, as Google's toolbar was previously being offered as the freebie with Java. As El Reg points out, this sort of thing is nothing new for Sun and Java. Java's also been used to deliver offers of OpenOffice and the Yahoo! toobar (the latter to Mozilla Firefox browser users only).
So, how do you feel about these combo deals? Would you rather get a coupon for free french fries, or are you comfortable with getting "two for one" downloads"? Join us after the jump and sound off.
While researching an antivirus article here at Maximum PC, we noticed something very curious: a Google AdWords link for “Antivirus xp 2008,” which led to the url “antivirus-world-2009.com.” (Don't go there)
Anyone who’s been paying attention during the last year or so know that "Antivirus xp 2008" is the name of one of the most widespread and obnoxious bits of malware floating around the internet. It hides itself in your system and launches a bogus antivirus program at intervals to warn you that you’ve got spyware and trojans and the sky is falling. Then, it recommends that you buy the pro version of the program, which presumably also does nothing except rip you off. The virus is frequently updated to evade malware removal tools, and is just generally a pain.
Wrath of the Lich King may barely be ripe for the picking, but Blizzard's already hard at work on its next attempt at supplanting real life. Blizzard COO Paul Sams recent spoke with VG247 about the second generation of its MMO monarchy, and long-time WoW players will be both happy and relieved to hear that this game certainly isn't WoW 2.0.
“We want to create a great game,” Sams said. “Something that’s cool, and new, and different, and kind of next generation in terms of look and feel and gameplay. That’s a challenging endeavour.”
But as a dab of disappointment for WoW players' flagon of infinite joy, the new Blizzard MMO is still deep in the grimy pits of development, with no release date in sight.
“We’re definitely at the beginning, in the first half of development,” Sams continued.
“When we’re building a new game from the ground up, what happens is that it’s slow going for the first bit, while the team goes round and round and round figuring out how it’s going to look and feel, what the player experience is and what the differentiators are, and then the speed at which we then bring in the content and polish and actually get to the finish line…"
"I think the second half of the process is always substantially faster than the first half of product development,” he added.
Find out why it'll be quite some time before Blizzard gives fans an eyeful of its new MMO after the break.
InfoWorld's Randall C. Kennedy has put Windows 7's Milestone 3 pre-beta build 6801, a freebie from last month's Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference, through a variety of benchmark tests, and isn't all that impressed:
As I reported on my Enterprise Desktop blog, the more I dug into Windows 7, the more I saw an OS that looked and felt like a slightly tweaked version of Windows Vista.
Just as slow as Vista...Just as consumer-focused as Vista...Just as confusing as Vista...
Kennedy cites these similarities:
The number of execution threads in key subsystems is almost the same in Windows 7 as in Vista
Benchmarks of Windows 7 and Vista Ultimate SP1 using the DMS Clarity Studio tools suite show almost identical results
Similar amounts of RAM are used by Windows 7 and Windows Vista
From these facts and visual similarities between Windows 7 and Vista, Kennedy concludes:
Bottom line: So far, Windows 7 looks and behaves almost exactly like Windows Vista. It performs almost exactly like Vista. And it breaks all sorts of things that used to work just fine under Vista. In other words, Microsoft's follow-up to its most unpopular OS release since Windows Me threatens to deliver zero measurable performance benefits while introducing new and potentially crippling compatibility issues.
Is Kennedy right, or is he missing a big difference between Windows 7 and its predecessor? For my take, join me after the break.
Nearly a quarter century ago, a young, pinup version Bill Gates released Microsoft’s first operating system, Windows. While the announcement was made in 1983, and the boxes wouldn’t see store shelves until 1985, Gates’ debut at New York’s Helmsley Palace Hotel was a notably ambitious one.
Gates stated that his fledgling operating system would be powering 90% of IBM’s computers by 1984. This didn’t come true initially (read: missed release date by a year), but it has managed to come to fruition as a number that’s near Windows’ market share today.
While Windows 1 was a short-lived ride, being made obsolete only two years later by Windows 2, it was a great start for Microsoft. Using a brand new graphical interface, it certainly made an impact on computing, as we know it today.
Thanks to a borked update, some PC users running AVG's free antivirus were in for a long and frustrating weekend. The virus definition update, which was released on Saturday, erroneously detected the "user32.dll" file for the Trojan Horse PSW.Banker4.APSA instead of recognizing it as a critical Windows component. Once the scanner went active, users found their AVG software recommending that they delete the quarantined file. Doing so caused systems to either stop booting or enter into a continuous reboot loop. Whoops!
The misinformed update affected both AVG 7.5 and AVG 8.0 installations on Windows XP. Vista users appear to be in the clear, though a spattering of user comments around the web have indicated otherwise. In any event, another update has corrected the error. For those who already deleted the critical system file, AVG is providing step-by-step instructions on how to restore your system back to a working state. Whether or not it restores your faith back in the program is another question altogether.
Hit the jump and let us know what security software you're using.