3 Top Free VirtualDesktop Managers for MS Windows XP ~ Musing on technology, computer and internet

3 Top Free VirtualDesktop Managers for MS Windows XP

May 4, 2008

Virtual Desktop Manager is a tool that allows you organized your opened programs windows into separated desktop called virtual desktop ( workspace) and allows you to switch between them, makes you easy to work on multiple programs without cluttered desktop.

Many of you who are Linux users might be already familiar with Virtual Desktop Manager in Unix/Linux operating system. In Unix/Linux, virtual desktop manager is natively part of Window Manager such as KDE,Gnome,Enlightenment,Fluxbox etc. Thus virtual desktops or workspaces become essential for working on UNix/Linux platform.

For Microsoft Windows, there are some tools that can provides you ways to create and manage virtual desktops. Here I will list three virtual dekstop managers I have been tried, one is natively from Microsoft and the rest are from independent developers. Here they are :

  1. Microsoft Virtual Desktop Manager Powertoy. This program is part of Microsoft Windows XP PowerToy, I was really happy when Microsoft released this PowerToy and found this neat virtual manager included. With this virtual manager you can easily switch between your desktop by clicking numbered button at the Taskbar and see the preview of split-screen of your desktops.

    The one thing this tool lack of is a feature to move or assigning opened program windows to desired desktops without involving the task bar. You do this by firstly open desired virtual desktop and click the program you wish in that virtual desktop on the taskbar, especially if you are in shared desktop mode. However it has ability to assign shortcuts keys for switching between virtual desktops, changing the background images of the virtual desktop and toggle the usage of the shared taskbar.

    To install it, firstly download the program from here, run the executable installer. After finish, right click the windows taskbar, toggle the 'lock taskbar' option to make sure the taskbar is unlocked. After that right click again on the taskbar go to 'Toolbars' then check the 'Desktop Manager'. This will make the virtual desktop manager button appear on your taskbar. You then can switch between virtual desktop by clicking numbered button. To configure the virtual window manager, just right click on these button, you can configure the virtual desktop background images, toggle the animation, create the shortcut keys and toggle shared desktop option.

  2. Dexpot. This virtual desktop manager offers more robust features. This virtual desktop manager is not only limit you with 4 virtual desktops, it lets you to create virtual desktop up to 20 virtual desktops. Switching between desktop are done through several ways, shortcut keys, Dexpot desktop manager , desktop preview and desktop window. Dexpot really has rich features, default shortcut keys are predefined, switching desktop is by pressing alt key and corresponding desktop numbers e.g Alt-2 to switch to desktop 2 etc.

    Moving opened programs to specific desktop is by right clicking on the program window and select the intended destination virtual desktop. For each virtual dekstop, users are allowed to configure the appearance such as the background images, the screen resolution, naming the virtual desktop,set a password for each desktop, and also specific screensaver for every dektop. Even you are allowed to set what programs you want to run each time you select the virtual desktop and also ability to set specific rules for each desktop.

    Dexpot is release as freeware for personal use and charging for a minor fee for commercial usage. Dexpot is also support many languages.

  3. VirtualWin is another virtual desktop manager. VirtualWin lets you to open up to 9 virtual desktops and it also has rules feature. As matter of fact, this program is not intuitive as Dexpot or Virtual Desktop Powertoy, but in fact is still a virtual desktop manager that worth to use.

    VirtualWin Desktop Manager

Basically I would recommend Dexpot considering its robust functionality and features, but native Microsoft PowerToy Virtual Desktop Manager is fine and it is already saves you with uncluttered desktops. At last whatever of your choice, its all yours.

There are actually another program called Virtual Dimension thats also offer capability of virtual dekstop manager, but those only three programs above are that I have been tested and tried. For those who have been tested and tried another virtual desktop manager programs, kindly let me know your experience. Feel free to contact me through my contact form.

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