Noteworthy Shareware turned Freeware in Feb 2011


The following three interesting programs used to be paid but recently turned Freeware: Bufferzone ProChasys Draw IES, and WinX DVD Author.

Bufferzone Pro is a virtualization/Sandboxing program, Chasys Draw IES is a bitmap image editor, and WinX DVD Author is a DVD authoring app.

BufferZone Pro Screenshot1. BufferZone PRO: the ’PRO’ verion of Trustware’s virtualization/sandboxing program is now free, offered in place of the old free version.

A 64 bit compatible version is (still) promised; look for a Freewaregenius review of this program when it finally arrives.

Chasys Draw IES Screenshot2. Chasys Draw IES: a suite of image editing tools featuring a powerful bitmap editor that supports Photoshop style layers and plugins.

Also includes an image viewer and image conversion components. If you know your freeware bitmap editors and want to review this program on Freewaregenius please email me.

WinX DVD Author Screenshot

3. WinX-DVD-Author: a DVD authoring app that can convert all sorts of video file formats, add menus and subtitles, and burn to DVD.

Supported formats include: MKV, M2TS, M4V, MP4, FLV, MPEG, MOV, RM, RMVB, H.264, and AVI.

If you know of any noteworthy programs that were paid and recently turned freeware please email me and let me know, and I may write them up.

  • BufferZone is a decent little sandbox…

    …but its web site’s security test page is sure arrogant. It assures me that once I download its little executable, it will be able to turn off my browser, and launch the calculator, and do all manner of other things to prove that my machine’s unprotected.

    So, knowing that it was, I downloaded and tried it, and, sure enough, I was right. My HOSTS INTRUSION PROTECTION SYSTEMS (HIPS) utility (called “Defense+” which is part of the freeware COMODO INTERNET SECURITY (CIS), which, incidentally, has its own little pseudo-sandbox) froze the little BufferZone security testing utility in its tracks when it tried to execute, then sent-up a warning telling me about it, and asking me if I should allow it…

    …which, of course, I did not.

    The people at BufferZone should develop a little humility. Not everyone’s the idiot (which BufferZone apparently thinks we are) who can’t manage to keep his/her machine safe without resorting to a sandbox.

    At least SOME of us — at least those of us with 34 years in IT — might actually know what we’re doing; and so the folks at BufferZone might want to change the language on their web site’s security testing page to reflect that what they claim their testing module can do is possible only if the machine doesn’t have good HIPS software installed and running.

    Of course, if they wrote that, then people would go get good HIPS software instead of using BufferZone. So it’s understandable why that testing page is as it is. That doesn’t mitigate its arrogance, though. And the whole thing should be a good object lesson to the typical end-user regarding how even web sites which purport to be trying to help may nevertheless mislead.

    Of course, none of that changes the fact that BufferZone really is a decent little tool of its type; and it’s worthy of being promoted here.

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

  • Though the WinX DVD Author referral, here, is excellent (thank you for that)…

    …but I’m a little irritated with the WinX DVD people over it because it was just a little over a month ago, now, that web sites like this one were writing about how the commercial version of WinX DVD Author, version 5.8, was available for a limited time as a “giveaway.”

    So, lots of people scrambled to jump through whatever hoops they had to jump through to likely register to get the giveaway serial number, then download and install, the software, then key-in said serial number. And that was all well and good.

    But the WinX DVD people, I promise you, knew that the next version (version 5.9, which is the now-freeware version (I know, I just downloaded it and launched the installer to see)) was going to become freeware back when they were making people jump through hoops to get version 5.8 via a giveaway.

    That means that the WinX DVD people were really just contriving an essentially (as a practical matter) FAKE giveaway event for version 5.8 to simply rustle-up some public interest and download activity…

    …and/or, I fear, to just collect a bunch of email addresses (from those who registered to get the giveaway version 5.8 serial number) for later marketing use.

    I question the integrity of that. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge the WinX DVD people of sound marketing tactics. But there really should be no deception (in this case, by omission) involved.

    All that said, I suppose, in the master scheme of things, no harm was done.


    Still… the very notion of jerking around the end-user like that just doesn’t feel right. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one’s watching, and this definitely wasn’t the right thing.

    None of that, of course, changes the fact that WnX DVD Author is an interesting little program that’s clearly capable and does what it says it will do. And so it’s nice that it’s finally available for free…

    …that is, as long as version 5.9 and onward have no advertising in them, or imposes no watermarks, or limitations, or anything like that. If it’s the truly FULL version, like 5.8, except that it’s a slightly upgraded/updated version to 5.9, without the loss of ANY functionality, capacity, speed or features, then I suppose, in the end, it’s fine.

    But stop and think about it: Once a guy stops cheating on his wife, confesses it to her, and swears he’ll never do it again; then works really hard to be an even better husband than before…

    …does anyone really blame the wife for ultimately leaving him anyway?

    The misleading and deception part matters, even when, ultimately, no harm is done.

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

  • Zeus

    You’re right, Gregg L. DesElms of Napa California. It’s exactly like a guy cheating on his wife. I can’t believe WinX broke the sanctity of my freeware giveaway. We both took vows of limited giveaway before God, and not two months later, WinX was running around, flaunting infidelity on every freeware blog on the internet. I’ve spoke to my family, I’ve spoken to my priest, and my friends, and though they all tell me to give WinX a chance… I just cant’ do it.

    It’s over.

    You hear me?


    • Samer

      @ Gregg,
      I appreciate your comments.
      With respect to WinX DVD Author, I am unaware of the path it took to get here, but if they had released it as a GiveAway first to generate a bit of publicity I do not really begrudge them that. I am just grateful that it is now freeware (even as I know of other excellent freeware DVD authoring programs such as DVD Styler).

      As to BufferZone, I will admit I never tried it (all my PCs are 64 bit as mentioned above); however, everything I read about it suggests that it offers good protection. I was unaware of Comodo Defense + but it sounds like the type of security software that is both powerful yet potentially too advanced for me to recommend to average users. If you are familiar with it and would like to write a review of Defense+ on this blog let me know.

  • InternautaX

    Excellent Samer.
    Downloading and testing.


  • Eiersalat

    WinX DVD is free, but it’s nagware and crippleware. Quite a combination. *rolleyes*

    Why crippleware? It’s limited in functions. If you uninstall it, it recommends “WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe” for more functions and offers a discount… yippy!

    Why nagware? If you create a DVD, it’ll add a 10seconds top menu “Created with WinX DVD” and you can’t remove/edit it.

  • TerrorCore

    Gregg DesElms said,
    “…and/or, I fear, to just collect a bunch of email addresses (from those who registered to get the giveaway version 5.8 serial number) for later marketing use.”

    Certainly after “those of us with 34 years in IT” would know how to use a throw-away email account to obtain the serial / license file. Furthermore, unless you actually have evidence of an email harvest, you’d be wise to not make such a claim, since such activity will only reflect back upon yourself, when some idiot like me comes along and calls you out on it. e.g. let’s see evidence of your clean account on a clean domain, and then the documented resultant spam.

    Personally I sitting here right now with an open Sony Vegas Pro and DVD Architect Pro (Which like final cut and adobe’s CSx’s, and protools are industry standards), both being a musician, and putting out a broadcast tv show once a month, I give these products a workout that joe 6 pack wouldn’t normally use every single day, but I still find use for the WinX HD video converter from time to time. Remember they gave that one away as well?

    I guess what I am saying here is maybe things aren’t working for you because you have an axe to grind? Do you bitch at say Kim, over at ztree for releasing new betas?

    Might I suggest, next weekend, you might dig out your 8080, 6805, and Z-80 and try to reflect on just how far we have come, and how nice these free giveaways are even if they don’t work out for you on a personal level. I’m thinking at least one of those machines, might not even run for you. Maybe you can fire up your compaq 386 with 1k ram and give me a thrashing on IRC?

    As you can tell, I have been computing for at least as long as you have, and if there’s one thing I learned across the years, is that you use the tool which gets the job done, be it unix, linux, windows, dos, embedded etc. You don’t run drupal on a windows ME box, and you don’t master disks with a FREEWARE utility.

    And Finally, FYI, I had no problems on any of my workstations with Bufferzone and pfsense or Bufferzone and IPCop

    My Grandmother used to tell me, is never look a gift-horse in the mouth. Wise words I hope you agree.

  • It’s always interesting to circle back to a page where I once made comments, and see the responses to them which I didn’t even know, ’til I’ve now circled back, existed. Hmm. So THAT’s what that “[n]otify me of comments via email” checkbox is all about. [grin] (Seriously, I knew about that checkbox; I just never check it because in situations where the page on which I make my comments is really, really popular, and generations gazillions of comments, I just end-up getting my email inbox cluttered with gazillions of notifications. But now I digress. Sorry.)

    To Zeus: Nice tongue-in-cheek. Funny. It focuses, however, on the simple analogy, and not the overarching point. No rational person would believe that I liken the relationship between a piece of software and its users to the sanctity of marriage. That’s a leap of logic simply not supported by the manner in which I made the analogy; one which requires a trip down the road of the ludicrous in order to have presumptive validity.

    Regarding what Eiersalat wrote: If those things are true, then it just makes at least the theme, if not the specifics, of my concerns all the more valid and relevant.

    To Samer: I would love to review Comodo Internet Security (CIS) on this site. I think that if it did, at lest SOME of your concerns about it being a little too complicated for the average end-user might (and I stress the word “might,” because I could be wrong) be assuaged. That said, it’s true that CIS has always been on the more techical side… something which, typically, only those who really understand things about computers, just generally, would find easy to use. I concede that. And for that reason, maybe you’re correct that it’s something which Freeware Genius should not promote. Who knows. It’s true, though, that Comodo has endeavored to make CIS much easier to use, in its current and immediately previous versions (versions 5.x and 4.x). The chief complaint against it has always been too many pop-ups either by the firewall, or the HIPS (the “Defense+” part of it); and said pop-ups not providing enough information in everyday, non-techie language for the typical, non-techie end-user to figure out how to respond to them (whether to allow or deny whatever the pop-up was warning was happening). Comodo has VASTLY reduced the number of those pop-ups, and views that as a huge step in making CIS more user-friendly. However, Comodo has done little to make figuring out how to use all the items on each of its tabbed pages; and so it’s still true that the average, non-techie end-user will likely still be a little confused. Of course that’s true about the typical Kaspersky end-user, too… and Kaspersky is arguably the number-one product of its (anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, etc.) type. With power comes, necessarily, complexity. It’s kind of unavoidable… and supports, it’s worthy of note, something I’ve been saying about desktop computers since the ’80s, to wit: That they’re not really consumer products; that they’re too complex, even if they can be made to work for non-technical consumers by pre-configuring things and dumbing them down. At the time I first made that statement, we were a nation of people with VCRs sitting on top of our TVs with “12:00, 12:00, 12:00, 12:00…” flashing on their fronts because the average user couldn’t figure out how to program the darned things. Little has changed… that is, other than the fact that younger folks, who’ve grown-up with these technologies DO get it; and DO know how to program the VCR (or at least would if they had one). So, then, maybe CIS soon won’t be to complicated for average end users after all! [grin]

    To TerrorCore: Oy… where to begin. How curious it is that you proudly wear the same mantle of experience as I, yet, in the same breath, try to paint me as a luddite because of it. It makes me wonder if you’ve really got that experience, or if you’re just good at Wikipedia-ing techno-history. I make the supposition because I’m having trouble understanding your either underlying or overarching point. Nothing in what I wrote suggested that I believe things like that a low-end consumer product should be used for serious DVD mastering; or that I don’t agree that the Sony products which you use are anything short of both high-end, and wonderful. They are, in fact, what I have and use on my machine. All I see in your posting’s every paragraph’s intent to find fault where it doesn’t actually exist are the efforts of a likely young and immature techno-geek who’s entirely too full of himself to tear down someone who had the temerity to point-out, along the way, that he had over three decades of experience simply to suggest to the reader that he wasn’t talking out his ass as he expressed his opinions… opinions which, incendentally, weren’t about pretty much anything about which you wrote… er… well, except, of course, WinX-DVD-Author. In the future, you might want to try to stay on-topic. It’ll make you seem less small.

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com