Autorun Splash Software
Reviewed: Geetesh Bajaj
Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2007
OS: Microsoft Windows XP / Vista
Menu Facturer - a different option altogether - this program's interface is for multiple programs. If you need to create a splash for a single presentation, installation or show, you could use any of the other programs in this page. However, if you need to create a CD ROM compilations of shareware or freeware programs, MP3s or even a few presentations or all of them put together, then you need Menu Facturer.
Presently, the program is available in freeware and commercial versions. The help file is very detailed and easy-to-read. Options include choosing your own icon, checking paths, creating an 'autorun.inf' automatically and creating groups within the main menu. Included within the installation are a few samples as well as collection of icons for you to use in your front-ends. You may want to give this program a spin!
Rated: Two And A Half Flowers
Company: Peer2Peer Productive
Version: 2.01 Beta
Price: Freeware Version (not for commercial use) available
Personal Edition: US$ 24.95
Professional Edition: US$ 149.95
Timeless makes two versions of its CD Autorun software - the freeware version and the professional version. The freeware version does many of the basic tasks you would want to achieve including launching of .exe files with specific options. In addition, the professional edition also supports the launching of document files, web addresses, mailto addresses and other URLs.
The program doesn't compile any exe file to include in the root of your CD ROM. It comes built-in with a standard viewer CD autorun executable which refers to an initialisation file for its very existence - this includes backgrounds, hotspots, events, etc. A very comprehensive tutorial is available online at their site.
Rated: Three And A Half Flowers
Price: Freeware version available.
Commercial Version: US$ 25
MakeCDROM is among the easiest autorun solution available. It does not provide too many options - excellent if you need to create a quick autorun splash.
A semi-wizard based interface helps you in organizing the structure - such as selecting folders and backdrop images. However, you need to save and generate your project to a predetermined 'staging' folder before you can view any previews. Hotspots and rollovers can be placed through dragging or through pixel level coordinates - although the only graphic formats accepted are BMP and GIF.
If your autorun splashes need the full professional treatment like registry access, detection and font embedding, look elsewhere. However, if you need to create a splash in minutes without all the gobbledygook, there's little to beat MakeCDROM. All put together, this is the most complete solution at this price level. You could try it for yourself by downloading a trial version from the site - its limitations include the ability to define only 3 hotspots until you register.
Rated: Four And A Half Flowers
Company: Killer Software Inc.
Price: US$ 19.95
This comes from Stardust Software, the same company that creates the immensely popular Stardust ScreenSaver Toolkit.
Although it offers most options associated with creating autorun splashes - AutoPlay Teaser Toolkit has a few aces up its sleeve - for example its runtime is only 55 kilobytes - thus ensuring an almost instantaneous splash occurrence. Unfortunately, the rest of the program does not live to that initial promise - you can use only BMP images within the program - I think JPG images became standard aeons ago. Even the hotspot coordinates have to be manually noted using another program (the help file suggests Paintbrush which last appeared in Windows 3.1!). The interface and help files look a little dated - more in the style of Windows 95 when it made it debut in 1995, rather than present times. Every function in this program can be easily performed using the free alternatives mentioned on this page.
Support options are aplenty - and customer service seems good enough. There is also a publicly accessible newsgroup dedicated to AutoPlay Teaser Toolkit.
In short, Stardust has to justify the basic US$ 99 price for a program which is crying for an update. This is unfortunate because Stardust's other programs are so much better. You could of course try out the 10 day trial which is available for download from the Stardust web site and decide for yourself.
Rated: One And A Half Flowers
Company: Stardust Software
Price: CD Version - US$ 149, Download Version US$ 99
If you already own a copy of Macromedia Director, Flash, AuthorWare or other multimedia software like Digital Workshop Illuminatus, Intelamedia Dazzler, Matchware Mediator, Asymetrix ToolBook or DemoShield, then you may not need any specialized autorun splash software.
Another great option is Multimedia Builder - which although not as powerful as Macromedia Director does a lot more than creating autorun splashes. And at less than US$ 50, it's a steal!
However, most multimedia software are not as easy to use as autorun splash software. For example, no multimedia software allows the sophistication of AutoPlay Menu Studio - which has options to create auto-detected multilingual splashes and a Virtual CD ROM for autorun splash development.
For a complete rundown on the autorun concept, read these articles at MSDN:
Autorun Utility is another application designed to create autorun CDs - but it's fairly technical and not for the faint hearted. At the site, you'll find a wealth of information regarding the entire autorun concept itself.
Autorun.inf Maker is a free autorun.inf creator.