Pretty cool, and free, if you haven't used any of the numerous commercial software packages that do more, and you don't remember AltaVista Personal Search (1996-1997), which indexed far more file types (200+). You can Google the web for issues with, and some fixes for, Desktop Search.
Agnitum finally released Outpost Firewall Pro 2.5. There are a zillion firewalls, they're constantly being updated, and of course, there's always the Windows XP firewall, significantly improved with SP2, but still pretty lame. I really like Outpost Pro, even though you have to pay for it (skip the free version), but the cost is reasonable, especially if you have multiple computers and buy a family license, and annual update/support renewals are only 50% of the original purchase price. For serious users, I think that you will be astonished by all of the features in Outpost Pro (but read the manuals). Minor updates of Outpost Pro are comparable to major updates from other vendors. Normally, I prefer a clean install, but since I have a lot of custom rules, I went the upgrade route. It didn't install as painlessly as usual; I had to manually restart the installer after the first reboot (from the old version uninstall), and then I had to reboot a couple of times. It also blocked my proxy server without telling me (that's unusual for Outpost), thereby blocking much of my Internet access, but it has great logs so I was quickly able to track down the problem and change the rules for my proxy server. There are significant security improvements in 2.5; it is supposed to pass all known leak tests. There is far too much to list here, and much more than their change log mentions, you just have to try it (you can use the 30-day trial if you don't already have Outpost).
I forgot to mention some things for you developers out there. Now that Microsoft will soon be releasing Visual Studio 2005, they have a special version of Visual Studio 2003 called, amazingly, Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 Professional Special Edition. It includes Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2000. The upgrade/competitive upgrade version is available for $480. Of course, if you have the bucks, you can always get an MSDN subscription instead.
Personally, I like Borland products. They have good Java tools, multiple-compiler C++ tools, Delphi (the first visual Windows development environment, for those of you who don't remember the pain of hand-coding Windows forms), and Kylix (for Linux), among others. Some years back, Microsoft paid millions to steal Borland's top Delphi designers (who now design Microsoft's development tools); Borland sued them for that and threatened to sue them for patent infringement, and got tens or hundreds of millions of dollars from Microsoft. Borland continues to be highly innovative and to offer much better cross-platform support than Microsoft. There is an interesting video (15 minutes, if I recall) of the next upcoming Delphi release, which supports C# as well as Delphi (word is that it will also compile Visual Basic, although the IDE doesn't support VB) and has impressive built-in refactoring support and version control and comparison. Of course, it supports .NET 2 as well as Win32, etc., and probably (I'll have to replay the video) continues to support CLX for Linux.
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