Top software at CES 2009

What we liked from CES 2009It may only be half way through, but the Consumer Electronics Show 2009 in Las Vegas has already sprung surprises in the software sphere. After a disappointing showing from Apple at MacWorld earlier in the week, CES has injected some much-needed optimism into the tech community. Those worried that these troubling economic times would spark a slowdown in software innovation this year should rest easy thanks to some genuinely eye-opening developments at CES 2009. Here is a collection of some of our favourites so far:

Windows 7 -There couldn’t have been a better time for Microsoft to enlighten the World with details of its new operating system, given Apple’s rather flat performance earlier this week. Releasing the product as a free Beta download was a real stroke of showmanship from Microsoft and from what we’ve seen the developer has plenty to show off about. It may look a lot like Vista but unlike the previous OS, Windows 7 is a different beast altogether. Primed for performance and packed with great new tools such as gadgets, a dock, and significant enhancements to bundled apps like WordPad and Paint, this could be the product to resurrect Microsoft’s failing image.

Palm Pre with WebOS – Once a giant in the world of PDAs and smartphones, Palm was just of couple more failed releases away from being a complete laughing stock. Just like Microsoft though, the company has instantly regained its credibility with the announcement of the Palm Pre. The sleek full touchscreen phone comes with a pop-out keyboard and runs boasts a completely new operating system, WebOS. The new UI looks great, with features such as swipe gestures, an intuitive app switcher, iCal-style calendar app, and a system that avoids task interruption when a call or SMS comes in. Wish you’d released a new iPhone now Apple?

Yahoo! TV Widgets – CES 2009 has highlighted the spread of the Internet beyond computers and onto more and more traditionally offline devices. Nowhere is this better illustrated than Yahoo!’s TV Widgets. These mini software apps allow you to tap into Web content while you’re watching your digital TV. This means you’ll be able to check your Facebook friends’ status while watching Lost, bid on eBay during commercial breaks, or check the weather forecast during Oprah. Although it will only launch with a few widgets on a few TVs to start wit, TV Widgets could represent a major step forward for the connected home.

Limewire 5.0 – As John mentioned earlier this week, the new version of Limewire could revolutionise the way people share files over the Internet. By introducing a more social element to the P2P client, users will surely now have more confidence when sharing their wares over the network. Being able to connect up to your GMail friends and give them access to your files is a real stroke of genius which, again, represents a pioneering step forward from a developer with a flagging reputation.

Skype Lite for Android – Another great step forward for mobile communication, Skype announced it will be releasing a Lite version of its VoIP software for Google’s Android platform. In these bleak economic times, the ability to make cheap calls from a mobile phone is something all of us will welcome. As well as launching for Android, Skype Lite will also support Java and Windows devices. Most mobile carriers have until now, been scared of allowing Skype on their phones for fear of losing revenue so this latest announcement is most welcome.

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