I’ve been a heavy Windows user my entire life. Sure, I’ve played with Linux but since as a profession I develop with Microsoft technologies I’ve always been tethered to the Windows world. I’ve been fortunate that something that was a hobby turned into something I could get paid to do. However, having your hobby as a job takes the hobby out of it!
In the recent distant past I purchased a Macbook Pro with the thinking that it’s still be something techie, but a shiny new penny to play with and a new world to learn about. I won’t get into the details, but eventually I decided I really didn’t like OSX. There are however some REALLY slick things that OSX does that Microsoft really needs to build equivalents to in the Windows world.
I miss Spaces. Spaces is a really slick part of OSX. It lets you group application windows together according to the way you work and easily switch between them. Create a space for work. Create a space for play. Organize each space just the way you want it by having certain apps load in certain spaces. For instance, I was a fan of having my primary desktop and browsing in the first “space”, development environments on the second “space”, music running on the third “space”, and so on.
Less important but still neat is Exposé. It exposes overlapping windows on your desktop into an organized thumbnail view, so you can quickly locate and switch to any window or get to any file on the desktop.
Eventually, having give OSX a fair shake I decided I REALLY didn’t jive with the interface philosophy of Apple and sold the Macbook. So here I was back in an all Windows world but I REALLY missed Spaces (and to a lesser extent Exposé). Luckily, there’s a great program called Dexpot with will give you that functionality in the Windows world!
You can get a Spaces and an Exposé-like overview of your open windows, view and manage multiple virtual desktops, replace your Alt+Tab switcher with Dexpot‘s, and even toggle things like your screensaver with the press of a button. It’s a really great app, and brings to Windows one of my favorite aspects of OSX.
Simply install Dexpot to enable extra workspaces (you can have up to 20) and you can instantly create more desktop space. Just like I did on OSX, I use it to compartmentalize my workspaces to specific tasks. I usually run a setup with 4 desktops. My “main” desktop has mail, IM, calendar, etc, the second desktop has my development environment, the third for media, etc. Dexpot lets you switch from desktop to desktop with simple keyboard shortcuts which are configurable in it’s settings. You can even create rules (just like in Spaces) that tells programs which desktop they should start under when you launch them. If you are running Windows7 you can even pin Dexpot to your taskbar and get a nice thumbnail view of all your available desktops when hovering over or clicking on it.
Dexpot has a bunch of advanced features like the previously mentioned rules, options for transparency, always-on-top, and the ability to minimize applications to the system tray, as well as being able to customize each virtual desktop to have its own wallpaper and resolution. Dexpot has multiple ways of navigating your virtual desktops including keyboard short cuts, a small thumbnail catalog of your active desktops, and a full screen Exposé-like preview of all desktops.
Dexpot is free, 64bit compatible, and runs on Windows XP/2000/2003/Vista/2008/7.