Google is giving away a new version of its Picasa photo software, which sold for $30 before Google bought its creator last summer and made it free.
The updated Picasa 2, released Monday, adds capabilities to compete with those of better-known, more expensive consumer image-editing programs.
Picasa (Win 98 or newer,www.picasa.com) now offers many new editing tools, including automatic red-eye fixes and brightness and contrast filters. The developers overhauled its organizing system to allow users to rename and move Picasa photos from the Windows desktop, not just from within the program.
You can also put the same photo into multiple Picasa albums and burn albums to CDs.
Also new are some photo-sharing features linked to Google properties: Users can e-mail photos through Google's Gmail service (but not other mail providers) and publish them to a Web log hosted on Google's Blogger.com site.
Outlook for Rent
After years of touting the idea of software-by-subscription, Microsoft Corp. last week rolled out a rental version of its Outlook 2003 mail program tied to its Hotmail Web-mail service. The new Outlook Live is fairly pricey -- $60 a year, discounted to $45 through April 19. It includes a full version of Outlook 2003 (normally sold as part of Microsoft's Office 2003 suite), as well as free updates to new versions.
Outlook Live's Hotmail integration synchronizes the information in Outlook -- e-mail messages, contacts and calendars -- with the Web service, and vice versa. Two gigabytes of mail storage (eight times what free Hotmail accounts offer) and support for multiple mail accounts are included, while Hotmail's ads are not.
AOL Soups Up Searches
America Online Inc. put a new look on its search pages Thursday, part of an attempt to woo advertisers to make up for AOL's shrinking subscription base.
The big changes are an optional, personalized display of each member's search history and a new way to cluster results by topic. A new ad system that lets merchants put special phone numbers in their ads, for which they pay only when users call them, will soon appear on AOL.
AOL also said it will soon offer a desktop-search program from Copernic Technologies Inc. and a geographically focused query service from Norway's Fast Search & Transfer. Its basic search results still come from Google.
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