To end the week, we found four major companies who are giving away their stuff for nothing. Now granted some of it is technology you may already use, but if you’re into trying new things, then you can pick them up as free downloads. The freebies include: Microsoft’s Silverlight 2, the beta of FireFox 3.1, Bilzzard’s World of Warcraft ginormous update, and a free episode of WitchBlade the anime series on iTunes. Free stuff in tough times; a good idea all around.

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Microsoft releases Silverlight 2

by Jim Dalrymple, Macworld.com

“Microsoft released Silverlight 2, an update to the company’s browser plug-in that allows users to view and interact with rich media on the Web. In addition to the plug-in release, Microsoft will also release development tools for Mac developers.

Silverlight delivers a Flash-like Web experience to users, allowing them to interact with elements of a Web page, including watching video. Although the technology competes with Flash, Microsoft said Silverlight does have some advantages.

Among those advantages is the language used to code applications in Silverlight. “Developers have a preference on what language they like to use and our competitors don’t offer that choice,” Brian Goldfarb, director of Developer Platforms at Microsoft, told Macworld.

Microsoft points to a number of companies including CBS College Sports, Blockbuster, Hard Rock Cafe, Yahoo! Japan, AOL, and Toyota that have chosen Silverlight to deliver rich media on their Web sites, as proof of its growing support in the industry. Silverlight was also used to deliver Olympic coverage on NBC in 2008.

To help provide tools to developers, Microsoft is providing funding to France-based Soyatec, to integrate advanced Silverlight development capabilities into the Eclipse IDE. Soyatec will release the project on SourceForge, according to Microsoft.

“We are committed to a cross platform and cross browser technology to provide the broadest reach to our customers,” said Goldfarb.

Silverlight 2 is available for free download from Microsoft’s Web site.”

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Mozilla ships Firefox 3.1 beta

by Jonny Evans, MacWorld UK

“Four months since the release of Firefox 3.0, Mozilla today announced the availability of Firefox 3.1 beta 1.

The main focus in the release of the beta is on web compatibility along with enabling new web features such as geolocation, video, offline application support and CSS improvements.

While Mozilla invites everyone to help test the beta, the organisation took pains to remind users that it’s not a fully completed product so “there may be some rough edges visually and with the user experience”. A second beta is scheduled for later this year to early next year, and the release of the product will be in early 2009.

New features and changes include:

• Web standards improvements in the Gecko layout engine
• Added support for CSS 2.1 and CSS 3 properties
• A new tab-switching shortcut that shows previews of the tab you’re switching to
• Improved control over the Smart Location Bar using special characters to restrict your search
• Drag and drop tabs from one Firefox window to another.”

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Blizzard Releases Massive World of Warcraft Update

by Peter Cohen, Macworld.com

“Blizzard Entertainment has released a massive update to its online role playing game World of Warcraft, bringing the current version to 3.0.2.

The new “Echoes of Doom” patch will automatically be applied the next time you log in to World of Warcraft (it measures 1.2GB on our test machine). The version number is jumping to 3.0.2 from 2.4.3, if you’re keeping track.

World of Warcraft is Blizzard’s subscription-based massively multiplayer online role playing game set in the world of Azeroth, scene of past Warcraft strategy games. The game lets players go online to interact with each other and computer-controlled characters and monsters as they explore the world, go on quests, acquire treasure and magic items, improve their own abilities and more.

Released simultaneously for Mac and PC in late 2004, World of Warcraft has become the world’s most popular online role playing game, garnering millions of subscribers around the globe. It will soon spawn a new expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King, which will be released on November 13, 2008.

The “Echoes of Doom” patch is a new content update that makes some rather dramatic changes to the game itself. It’s not a substitute for the “Wrath of the Lich King” expansion, but it does provide many new features, such as new talents, new spells, an all-new Achievement System, new locations including Stormwind Harbor, and new towers outside of Orgrimmar and Tirisfal Glades, and the implementation of a Barber Shop that lets you change your character’s appearance.

Extensive changes have been made to every character class in the game. Far too many changes have been made to list them individually here, but you can get a complete list online from the official World of Warcraft site.”

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Free Episode of Witchblade Anime Series on iTunes

by Peter Cohen, Macworld.com

“Funimation on Wednesday announced that the first episode of its hit anime series Witchblade is now available for free download from the U.S. iTunes Store. It’s available through October 26, 2008.

Created by renowned anime studio Gonzo, Witchblade tells the story of a Masane Amaha, a woman who must wield the witchblade — an arcane source of great power that’s part armor, part blade, and part sentient. She’s thrust between two opposing corporations who will stop at nothing for control of the witchblade. Witchblade is rated TV MA.

One thing that makes Witchblade different from many other Funimation anime series is the series’ origin: It was originally developed as an American comic book series by Image Comic imprint Top Cow Productions. It was later turned into a live-action TV series starring Yancy Butler. The anime series is based in a futuristic Japan. The anime has also been broadcast on cable channel IFC.

Other episodes are available for $1.99 each. You can also buy a complete season for $38.99″

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Apple iTunes

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Handango Inc.

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