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The Red Ferret Product of the Year 2009: Software – Presto


Presto is the latest and most interesting version of Linux to target consumer computing. The weird thing is the fact that this Xandros made product actually runs on top of Windows, which for Linux purists is nothing short of heresy, but really the best way to encourage people to try a new operating system is to give them the chance to play with it on their own computer, free from the fear of ditching their comfort zone.

The Presto install is fast and clean, and most importantly free of the usual hassles with installing WiFi and other drivers you face with conventional Linux distros like Ubuntu. It just works. Which will be a revelation to most newcomers to the Linux world. Once installed lucky users will then be able to dual boot into the incredibly fast Presto boot up (around 10 seconds or so) and shutdown, and will be able to experience just how easy and familiar Linux can be when your just surfing around using Firefox, or browsing your way around applications.

We love anything that encourages folk to look outside the norm and experience something new in computing, and for us Presto is a perfect introduction to the great alternatives to Windows that are starting to pop up. Once you’ve used Linux for a while, you begin to question why you’re so attached to Windows bloat, especially now we’re moving into a more web centric world. All of which can only be a good thing for the health of the market overall.

The shortlist for this category included a bunch of lesser known, but great programs such as Dynamic Auto Painter, which gets our vote as probably the best photo to painting conversion program of all time. Calibre, the awesome eBook library manager and reader and DoPDF, the mega fast and simple document to PDF converter are also worthy runners up. For sheer innovation PC Decrapifier is hard to beat, we love having the power to remove all the accumulated crud from our hard disks in one sweet session, and in a similar vein we were blown away by the clever hybrid application installer Ninite, which promises to take away much of the pain of program installation from our busy existence.

 Presto is an easy to install program that works with most Windows XP and Vista PCs – laptops and desktops. Once installed – whenever you turn on your computer, you’ll have the choice of running Windows or Presto. With Presto, you’re automatically connected to your network and productive in seconds. You can easily access your Windows files. When you’re done using Presto, you can turn off your laptop instantly.

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