VirtualBox, as the name suggests is a powerful virtualisation tool which in lay man’s term means installing the second OS within your existing OS. VirtualBox is a feature rich tool that can not only be used by home users but can be easily and deployed in an enterprise setup. VirtualBox is very light in weight and is available for all platforms which include Mac, Windows, Linux and of course Solaris.
One would find it difficult to understand the reason why VirtualBox is included in the Mac Essentials list. The main reason on including VirtualBox in this list is because of the fact that many a times you come across an application that requires a specific OS to run it on. This is especially true and critical when this software is deployed by the company you are working for and wants you to use it to carry out certain tasks. On the other hand, if you are a developer, VirtualBox is a must have, purely for the reason that you can test your application that you’ve created on all OS on the same machine rather than owning one machine per OS. This makes life much easier for you to operate from any location of your choice instead of being confined to one location that has all facility.
VirtualBox is a Sun Microsystem product and that is why it is freely available as an open source software under the GNU General public license. You can install a large number of guest OS on VirtualBox on any of the platforms mentioned above. The guest OS include Windows (NT 4.0, XP, 2000, Server 2003, Vista, Windows 7), DOS 3.x, Linux (2.4 & 2.6), Solaris and OpenSolaris, OS/2 and OpenBSD.
VirtualBox is constantly upgraded by the developers and there are new features that are constantly added to the software. VirtualBox does not support resource intensive 3D games yet, but for normal usage like office, internet etc it is more than sufficient. With recent upgrade of VirtualBox to 4.0 it has now included the support for modern operating systems (64 bit OS) which runs as smooth as it would on a dedicated hardware.
Are you among those who are still wondering what would be the outcome of Mac Vs PC battle? Here’s news for you, the battle does not matter anymore. Both parties are not bothered about the outcome any more and have stopped spending their efforts behind it. Apple pulling off the famous “I’m a Mac” ad campaign should be enough as an evidence for you. Assuming that the current market position and brand value ranking(#1) that Apple has achieved, let us for argument assume that Apple is the #1 tech company in the world. So where do you think is the next battle and which is the tech company to watch out for in platform and hardware battle? Who is the biggest threat to Apple?
Do you think with its Launch of a better OS for desktop (windows 7) and a new OS for mobile (Win7) it is Microsoft? Or with its recent launch of touch based blackberry phones and acquisition of QNX to eventually launch a tablet(Playbook) on new OS it is RIM? Or with its rapid market share gain in mobile platform and recent launch of Honeycomb for tablets and the all new Chomebook it is Google?
Well if you rule out the previous two companies and go for the later i.e. Google, I would agree with you on your first guess of ruling out Microsoft and RIM but I would tend to have a different opinion in case of Google. I don’t think Google can pose as much of a threat to Apple or in that case even Microsoft mainly because of a couple of reasons. One the company has got its hands in too many projects that are all in beta stage and in most cases all of them die and untimely death without seeing light (steady state). There are countless examples to prove my point. Google Buzz, Google Video, Google Notebook, Google Catalog, Google Answers, Web Accelerator, Google Audio Ads, Dodgeball, Google X, Google Wave, Lively, Jaiku etc and few soon to join like Google TV, ORKUT etc are few of them. The biggest problem with this approach is that though they have got the brightest of the brains to work for them there is a severe lack of channelised focus which ultimately leads downfall of those products. Their behavior can best be compared to a child who wants everything that belongs to others and would never be able to enjoy what he has in hand. Unless, Google gets their act straight and have somebody at the help with a razor sharp vision and focus to hold the company together, it is going to have the same fate that Microsoft had. Lot of initial success but eventually end up in disarray.
The company that falls in the category of having everything that Google is missing and the one which would end up being the biggest competitor to Apple according to me would be, AMAZON. They are a company with a sharp vision. A well disciplined company. A company that is slowly, but steadily, making inroads in the biggest markets/trends of the future. All their investment has been very silent but assured. Brick by brick, they have built services that would eventually become the main products or go to products for future not only for SMBs but large organisations as well. They are a company that is focused on quality as much as Apple is and would not allow any third party to use their name unless it is of the standard they approve. Look at Kindle! It is a device that could put Apple products to shame in build quality. Not only did they achieve that but also they sell it at a price that is a no brainer for consumer. In contrast, Google allows third parties to not only build Android based products that are flimsy but also allows them to put Google’s name on them.
Let us quickly go through the product catalog that Amazon has been quietly building. Amazon web services(AWS) is a wide array of web & could based service that caters to the needs of all kind of end customers. It houses in it products to cater to E-commerce, Storage, messaging, networking, payment and billing, Database, content delivery etc to name a few. If you are an end customer that is a large organisation or a one man shop who wants to move to cloud; look no further. They have got it all. In media and fashion, Amazon has acquired every company that makes any market sense and have built a large catalog for themselves to cater to all your media, books, fashion needs. They have even built a store for Andriod App of the quality that Google has struggled to produce so far. They have built up the infrastructure, catalog that is unmatchable. The only thing that they now need is a product that helps people explore this catalog. I would not be surprised if Amazon came up with either or all of a phone, computer, tablet, TV that would act as a frontend to the Amazon market place. They have displayed with Kindle the quality of product they can build. They have the resources to throw behind their product. They have the right attitude and reach to customer. In short, Amazon has got in it everything that is required to be a threat to Apple and to take over as the number one tech company. It is not a question of what it is a question of when? And the answer is; you’ll not have to wait long……… Watch this space!
Flip4Mac is a collection of QuickTime components that allow you to use QuickTime based applications to play, import and export Windows media audio and video files on Mac
Since Windows is the most popular operating system in terms of numbers installed, there is a lot of media that is generated on Microsoft Windows platform which is compatible with the Windows platform but may not always be compatible with media players on Mac.
Once Flip4Mac is installed on you machine it allows you to play all the content on the internet that is designed for Windows without any problem. There are no more hassles involved after this. All files directly work as they are supposed to.
Windows in the past would develop a version of their media player for the Mac so that Mac users could take advantage of media files that are supposed to run on the windows media player. They have stopped developing this software and their site would point you to Flip4Mac if you tried to find Windows Media player for OS X.
There are plug-ins available for Flip4Mac that can be sued with mot QuickTime based applications like QuickTime Player, iMovie etc. There are paid versions of Flip4Mac pro available from the developer but the free version is almost sufficient from an end users perspective as the pro version is generally useful for professional and people working with media files on regular basis.
The software is recommended as a must have for any user who has just used to Mac or the ones who have managed to live without it for so long!
Skype offers free VoIP calls between Skype users. All you need to do is to download Skype to your Mac or iDevice, and a registration for a Skype account on their website.
The best thing about Skype is that it is available on all desktop platforms and almost all mobile platforms. Therefore there is a great possibility that your family and friends are likely to have a Skype account already that you would be able to call for free.
While you can make both audio and video calls from Skype the quality of both the calls is at par with the best in the industry. In terms of voice quality and video image it beats most of the competitor hands down. With its multi-user conference facility, it is also possible to conference audio and video with multiple people at the same time.
The interface is very clean, simple and intuitive to use. It doesn’t matter what IM/VOIP you’ve been using for a while but it does not take time to get used to the user interface of Skype. The IM(chat) client is simple and allows you to set user status that is visible for others. It also allows file and desktop sharing.
Skype to Skype calls are free, but the company also offers a variety of paid add-ons like real phone number and cheap calls to landlines and mobiles. Through the paid telephony service you can make free calls to phones of a particular country or call any phone across the globe at pre-defined rates. It is also possible to own a number in particular country through Skype so that people from that country can make a call to you at local rates.
Skype syncs with your address book on you Mac. This makes it easy for you to call people in your address book directly through Skype. You can either choose to call them on their Skype-id or on their landlines/mobile phones.
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