I’ve been setting up a relatively new 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate machine and decided to see if the virtual desktops landscape had changed much in the recent past. It’s amazing that with all of the feature duplication between OS X, *nix (esp Ubuntu) and more modern Windows systems that the ability to create, manage and use more than one desktop is not yet a built-in feature that one can just enable.
Poking around, I saw a few contenders, including:
- Finestra Virtual Desktop Manager
- Virtual Desktop Assist$
- Desktops (sysinternals/MSFT)
Given that this is a built-in (i.e. I don’t have to pay extra for it) feature on two of my other operating systems, I immediately excluded the ones I’d have to pay for, even though a couple of them looked pretty snazzy.
I started with Finestra since I’ve used it in the past (under it’s old name) and was greeted with numerous “shortcut key conflict” errors and some .NET soft-app-crashed and working with the taskbar icon. It did it’s job, but it also made Xshell completely lose its window when I quit the switcher.
I decided to give Microsoft’s offering a go next as you’d think that they could use some of there seekrits to make for a very rich desktop switching experience. Unfortunately, it felt more like an app that I might have written (no polish, kinda clunky but functional). A big plus is that it did not require going through a slow install process. Download->run>->try->quit. I wish more software for the Windows platform was like that.
The last one I tried and have stayed with is WindowsPager. I was immediately impressed that it had a 64-bit compiled version and also that it did not require an arduous installation process.
WindowsPager lets you move individual windows from one desktop to another with a right-click in the title bar and presents a spiffy and functional mini-desktop view in the taskbar:
There are also many more ways to move around and place objects on individual desktops (you can see all the features in WindowPager’s documentation).
For the time being, I’m sticking with WindowsPager and am happy to have added functionality that really should have been there in the first place.
(Haven’t given VirtuaWin a go yet, but it looks like it might be a decent contender.)