Virtual desktops for Windows

DeskSpaceEver since I started playing around with Ubuntu and was introduced to the awesomeness that is Beryl, I became addicted to having virtual desktops. I love the fact that I can do that on my Mac lappy and have multiple apps running and be able to quickly switch from one to the other. Sadly – Windows is sort of the red-headed step child of cool desktop apps; or so I thought. I have been playing around with a few recently.

I started out installing Dexpot, which was pretty good. Extremely customizable, easy to use and quick to respond to commands. It lacks the flash and glitter of Beryl though. Next I tried Virtual Desktop Manager, and ultimately it seemed no different from Dexpot. Both were the same bland version, with different features. Both seemed stable enough in the short time I used them – although I have read some folks having trouble with dual screens and VDM being a bit crashy. What it really came down too though, is these apps are just not cool – maybe they are just cuil…. but I like my tools to be more than simply functional.

I run WindowBlinds on all my PCs, I have FruitMenu on my Mac – and ran ShapeShifter for a while too, until I upgraded to 10.5 which broke it (and it seems they have little interest in fixing it). Suffice it to say, I like to customize my UI, and having virtual desktops is not different. I had run across Toy'd which states it's an OpenSource Beryl for Windows, but it's latest blog entry is from 2 years ago, and no download – so it's safe to say that it's dead. Then finally along comes DeskSpace.

This is a cool app – pretty much exactly what I am looking for. You get the 3D cube of your desktops, and a lot of options to play with – not as many as Beryl mind you, but enough to make me happy for a spell. The biggest drawback here is that it isn't free. The price is cheap enough at $25, but free is always better…. right? Not in this case. I have used the free versions and they just aren't as good in my opinion, that's not to say they aren't good, just not what I want. I am also more than happy to pay for something that works and works well, just because something is or isn't OpenSource doesn't make me lean one way or the other.

DeskSpace handles my dual monitor setup keenly, and gives me a unqiue spinning cube for each screen, handling each monitor independantly. What it lacks are all of the other fun features of Beryl like the elastic winow, minimize maximize effects and so on. I know Stardock also makes WindowFX but having tried it a few times on various machines, it's a dog.It's laggy and slow, but hey! it's feature rich! I always thought this was odd too, since I really like Stardock and think very highly of their dev team and what they have done with their games and tools.

As far as Virtual Desktops go, DeskSpace has my vote so far. There's a 14 day free trial available too.

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