Win2PDF 10: Create Images using Win2Image printer

Win2PDF 10 has moved some of image-related file output options to a new printer called Win2Image.  This feature is useful, for example, if you wanted to include a chart or graph from a proprietary program into another document.   In this case, you’d simply print to a JPEG file and then insert the JPEG into the other document.Win2Image blog image

This new printer, which is installed by default and is included at no extra charge, also includes new image output options.  It supports the following image formats:

  • TIFF (monochrome)
  • TIFF (color)
  • JPEG (grayscale)
  • JPEG (color)
  • GIF (grayscale)
  • GIF (color)
  • PNG (grayscale)
  • PNG (color)
  • BMP (grayscale)
  • BMP (color)

Below is a short video that shows how Win2Image is used to create image files.

Try Win2Image today by downloading the Win2PDF 10 software.

Win2PDF 10 is now available for download!

We’ve just released our latest and greatest version of Win2PDF with some significant new features, and it’s available now at our Win2PDF 10 download page.

We’ll be covering these features in greater detail over the next several weeks, but here’s an overview:

Autoname

  • Win2PDF 10 makes it easier to add a new copy of the Win2PDF printer.  Auto-name and other settings are stored separately for each printer, so you can create different Win2PDF printers for specific settings.
  • Win2PDF 10 improves performance and reliability.

Win2PDF 10 is a free upgrade for Win2PDF 7 users.  If you purchased Win2PDF before October 2009, you can purchase an upgrade for Win2PDF 10 on the updates page.

We’ll be adding more updates on these new features in the coming weeks, but please download you copy today and get started.

Dark Patterns – More on “Free” software

Free Lemonade
Free Lemonade

At my lemonade stand I used to give the first glass away free and charge five dollars for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote.

— Emo Phillips

As a follow up to our last post on the high cost of free software, it’s probably worth discussing the related topic of dark patterns in the user interface of software products and web sites.  Essentially, dark patterns refer to the intentional use of user interface elements that are designed to you “trick” you into doing something you probably didn’t intend to do.

And why would a web site or software publisher want do this?  Most often, it’s to get you to click on a link for a paid advertisement.

For example, many “free” download sites serve ads that look like real download buttons, but actually download software that have nothing to do with what you were searching for.  Here’s a real screen shot showing what comes up for a search for “Adobe Reader”:

darkpattern4

Many users would logically just click on either of the “Free Download” buttons (which also use the label “Start Download”).  After all, all 3 buttons on the page look the same – same size and shape, same green color, a little download arrow on the left…  But one is different.  The two “Free Download” buttons take you to an advertiser’s site so that you can download their products, not Adobe Reader.  And the site hosting the “free” software gets paid a commission for this link – even though it didn’t do what you though it would.  Only if you look closely and find the link that says “Visit Site” are you directed to the read Adobe Reader download.

This example shows a web site doing this type of dark pattern interface, but it can also be embedded within the interface of a “free download” product. If you’re curious to see other examples, go to the Dark Patterns web site and browse the different examples that other users have submitted.  And if you need to download a product like Adobe Reader, it is always safest to go directly to the publisher’s web site to obtain the download.

Just another reminder why “free” sometimes isn’t free.  And why companies like ours only charge you for the lemonade, not the antidote…

The High Cost of “Free” Software

Adware.  Spyware.  Malware.  Bloatware. [Link goes to another good blog post on this subject].  These are all names for software that are secretly installed on your computer when you download so-called ‘free’ software programs.  Our recommendation?

Be aware and beware!  Just look at this example of an Internet Explorer window riddled with toolbars that have been included with other software downloads.

Example of Internet Explorer overwhelmed with extra tool bars, often loaded by 'free' software
Example of Internet Explorer overwhelmed with extra tool bars, often loaded by ‘free’ software

It may look extreme, but if you’ve seen these types of toolbars or unwanted pop-up windows appear on your computer, it’s quite likely that they piggy-backed on some other ‘free’ software that you downloaded.

As a developer of commercial Windows software, we get offers and inquiries almost weekly from other companies who wish to include their software bundled into our installer.  While we always decline such arrangements (Win2PDF is 100% free of any adware/spyware), this is a typical model that many providers of ‘free’ software use to make money.  After all, it costs money to develop, support, and host software applications:  Web hosting, security, development and version control software, live chat and other technical support software all have costs.  As does having to maintain multiple computers with different operating systems and servers for testing.  And staff.  Let’s not forget about actually having real people in place to create, test, and support the software.  Even a lone programmer working in their own basement needs some revenue to create and make their software available.

Google Search for 'PDF Writer'

If you perform a Google search of “PDF Writer” (see image to the right), the top result is for a “100% Free!” solution.

This is actually an Ad Supported download wrapper for the CutePDF software program, which is also Ad Supported.  If you follow the link to download, you’ll end up with at least 5 extra programs on your PC.  Do you know what these programs do?  Will they slow down your PC, or make it unstable?  Will it collect and transmit any personal information about you or your browsing history?  

If you don’t know, is it still worth it for the ‘free’ software?

Idealware.org posted a useful article on many of these same issues, along with questions to ask yourself when considering these free or low-cost software options.  For example,

    • If it’s truly ‘free’, how does the company afford to advertise it on Google or Bing?  Or pay to host the downloads?
    • Do the companies who make these downloads available even produce their own software, or are they just bundling other ‘free’ solutions?
    • Are you downloading directly from the publisher’s web site, or though a 3rd party site?  3rd parties often add downloaders that can add spyware.  Hint: It’s safer to download directly from the publisher!
    • Will it work in future versions of Windows, or with new service packs or updates?  Who do you contact if you have a problem or question?
    • How trustworthy is the publisher?
    • Do they offer independent reviews [Win2PDF example] on their products?
    • Do they list company information [Win2PDF example] on their web site?
    • Are they a member of the Better Business Bureau, and if so, what is their rating [Win2PDF example]?

Here’s a review of www.pdflite.com, one of the other companies that advertises on Google for the search word ‘PDF Writer’.  By contrast, here’s the review of www.win2pdf.com.  Can you guess which one is ‘free’?

Our company does not make ‘free’ software.  We charge for our products, and guarantee our products with a full 60-day return policy.  This allows us to say No to 3rd party spyware/adware publishers, and it provides the revenue we need to continue developing, supporting, and enhancing our products for the future.  We have a loyal customer base and we’ve been able to operate a successful business since 2000.

So, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your needs.  Just know that there usually isn’t such a thing as ‘free’ software.  There’s usually a cost somewhere – just know what that cost is before installing it on your PC.

And always remember, be careful what you download.

New Win2PDF update supports Windows 8.1

Our latest update to Win2PDF (Version 7.6) now supports the new Windows 8.1 operating system update.

Win2PDF 8.1
Win2PDF 8.1

This is a free update to registered users of Win2PDF 7 or later, and the updates can be downloaded and installed from our web page here:

http://www.win2pdf.com/download/download.htm

In addition to the Windows 8.1 support, this update also includes the Win2PDF Desktop App, which provides easy access to the Win2PDF PDF conversion process and supports drag and drop functionality. During the initial installation of Win2PDF 7.6 you will be prompted to add (or not) this optional add-on.

Win2PDF Desktop App Setup
Win2PDF Desktop App Prompt During Setup

For more information about the Win2PDF Desktop App, please see our official documentation here:

How to use the Win2PDF Desktop App

And, as always, if you have any questions about the new Win2PDF 7.6 software, you can go to the Win2PDF Technical Support Page.

CD or not CD… That is the question

131/365 [cd stack]More and more software companies are eliminating CDs and DVDs for product distribution, and turning to an electronic download model.  Just recently, Adobe released plans to eliminate boxed copies of its popular Creative Suite software.

It’s not just due to cost, either.  True, it’s much cheaper for a software company to deliver software this way, but it’s also more convenient for the customer.  Consider the following:

  • Most Microsoft Windows operating system updates are already delivered electronically, especially for security fixes.
  • Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware software products depend on electronic distribution to quickly update and patch security software.
  • Many new laptops, netbooks and tablets don’t even have a CD or DVD drive, which is also decreasing the need for boxed software.
  • Software companies (like us) can quickly deliver fixes and enhancements to customer reported issues as soon as they become available.
  • New products, add-ons, and utilities can also be provided as they become available.  For example, our last blog post announced availability of our new Win2PDF Desktop product.

We’ve always used an electronic distribution model for these reasons.  Our latest hotfix releases of Win2PDF can be accessed on our Win2PDF Updates support page*.  Our add-on utilities — such as the Win2PDF Mail Helper, Win2PDF Admin Utility, and Win2PDF Desktop — can be found at our Win2PDF Add-On support page.

*  If you purchased Win2PDF before November, 2009, you will need to purchase an upgrade to Win2PDF 7 to get the latest hotfixes.

And, if you still want to make a backup copy of your software, at least with our Win2PDF software, you can easily copy the Win2PDF setup program along with a text file containing your license code to a thumb drive, CD/DVD, or to the cloud (see our round-up of cloud storage services here).

We recommend always getting the latest and greatest versions available, and those can typically be found easily at each vendor’s web site.  If you have any questions about updating or re-installing our Win2PDF software, please contact us at our support page and we’ll be happy to assist you.