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Ask Slashdot: Which Multiple Desktop Tool For Windows 7?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the dual-boot-with-linux dept.

GUI 359

First time accepted submitter asadsalm writes "MacOS has spaces. Windows had no out-of-the-box utility for multiple virtual desktops. Which Multiple Desktop Tool should one use on Windows 7? Sysinternals Desktops, mdesktop, Dexpot, Virtual Dimension, VirtuaWin, Finestra are the few options that I have shortlisted." So, if you use both Windows and multiple desktops, what's your favorite method?

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Linux (-1, Troll)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444699)

That's my answer. Give up the WIndows.

Of course, it's not an answer you likely want to hear. Unfortunately, I don't have any answers you'd want to hear.

Re:Linux (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444707)

Then why answer the question? To hear yourself speak?

Re:Linux (0, Troll)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444745)

Because sometimes answers people don't want to hear are still the right answers.

Re:Linux (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39444783)

And that's why Linux users still have such a reputation for being such insufferable sanctimonious assholes.

Re:Linux (0, Troll)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444927)

And why Windows users have such reputations for being incredulous noobs. I mean, why else do you think so much blatant malware and scamware is made for that platform anyway?

Re:Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445069)

Okay, so if Linux is really so much better than Windows, why has Linux desktop marketshare stayed around 1% while Mac desktop marketshare has increased dramatically (~10% -> 20%) in the past 5 years?

Hint: Maybe I'm trying to tell you an answer you don't want to hear, but it's the right answer anyway. Or I'm just being an insufferable sanctimonious asshole.

Also, I'm not the GP AC poster.

Because... (4, Insightful)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445363)

Because there is no company "behind linux" pushing it into "marketing". This creates a catch-22 where people don't develop the "popularist crap" for linux because there is no market share, and "average" people don't buy the linux systems because there is no "crapware" for it.

Also, of course, since the big makers (Dell, Gateway, etc) are enjoined from selling linux-equipped desktop machines under penalty of losing their Microsoft OEM licenses, there are no "sales figures" for Linux Desktop Systems period. Microsoft "owns" the channels from which Linux Desktop Systems would emerge into actual conciousness.

Finally, -every- topic, user community, position, and theory has its share of insufferable sanctimonious assholes. Your use of the "Or" in your missive established a false dichotomy. You don't have to be -wrong- to be an I.S.A. 8-)

Re:Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445385)

Why has Linux desktop market share stayed around 1%? Because the day that Linus Torvalds sent out his email about doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones, Microsoft already had an established desktop OS monopoly with DOS. ...while Mac desktop marketshare has increased dramatically (~10% -> 20%) in the past 5 years? Currently Mac desktop marketshare is ~7%. It has not increased "dramatically".

Re:Linux (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445245)

Because it has the largest market share, if you're going to go through the trouble target the biggest pool.

Re:Linux (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445091)

In government service, OP makes sense. I served in the Air Force through the transition from various Unix terminals to Windows and it's really quite simple.

You give people orders and they obey them because they have no choice. There is no obligation to heed any whining.

There is a place for heeding users, and there is a place for giving orders and expecting them to be obeyed.

Re:Linux (5, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445189)

Yeah, people like that make the rest of us look bad. I'm a Linux user and if Windows works well for you, I wish you the best.

The problem with assholes is that they're fucking loud, and they drown out the rest of us. I simply use Linux most of the time and thus don't really know the best answer to this question, so I keep my mouth shut.

Always remember that there's usually a silent majority that just doesn't have time for the bullshit.

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445197)

given that out of three identical win7-64 laptops that I took out of shrinkwrap yesterday, and booted making the exact same operations, two could list the network drives and one needed me to enter the name manually, just to recall the latest quirk, I can perfecly understand why people used to an OS that behaves in a consistent manner on a 7 year old desktop and on the latest netbook look down to a system that the OEM can't make work reliably.

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445289)

Try it with OS X it's even worse, I ran the desktop deploy at an Apple facility on the same hardware profile with the same image we routinely got differing behaviors.

Re:Linux (1, Offtopic)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444729)

BTW, Unix variants have had multiple desktops since long before Mac OS, OS X, or any Windows variant had them.

Re:Linux (4, Informative)

windcask (1795642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444751)

Mac OS X is a Unix (BSD) variant.

Re:Linux (0)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444769)

Yes, it is. I meant Unix variants that existed before OS X.

Re:Linux (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445167)

You mean like NeXT?

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39444753)

OS X IS a UNIX variant.

Re:Linux (-1, Redundant)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445101)

No. It's just the latest version of a proprietary OS released in 1984.

It's only Unix when it's time to engage in marketing. Otherwise, that aspect of the system is completely ignored. Unixisms are certainly not present in any part of the system that Apple enthusiasts would be prone to brag about.

Re:Linux (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445151)

Apple still commits some changes in OSX back into FreeBSD. It is still Unix at its heart.

Re:Linux (0, Flamebait)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444779)

And Amigas had it earlier. Whoop-dee-doo. Other than some bizarre e-peen wagging to make yourself feel better what's the point of your post? No one claimed Macs had virtual desktops first.

Re:Linux (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445057)

Not only that, the Amiga's multiple desktops didn't even have to run at that same resolution. Even when displayed on the same screen at the same time. I can't think of any reason to do that in this day and age, but back then it made your e-peen wage long and far.

Re:Linux (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445073)

They (Macs) still don't have a very good implementation either.

Windows has it built in... (2, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445251)

Windows has it built in. Go to the start menu, do "switch user", and, bingo! A whole new desktop...

Re:Linux (1, Insightful)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444771)

It's fine if you want to give up, but not all of us are quitters.
I know this might come as a huge shock, but linux does not suit everyone's needs.
If you have something useful to say, say it. But don't waste the poster's time with such a useless answer.

Yep... (1)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445089)

Windows: for those who just don't know when quitting is the better option... (I think this is the new Microsoft slogan for Windows 8... 8-)

Not a troll, IMHO, just "outside th box" thinking. (-1, Troll)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444795)

I agree whole-heartedly about using linux.

When "stuck with" windows I often acheive multiple windows desktops by running multiple QEMU windows instances.

I also use Wine.

Both of these solutions often mean that when a windows app fails catostrophically I can just kill the whole windows instance at once wihtout interfeering with my other work.

You can do the same thing with VmWare hardware partitioning.

I also look to migrate away from windows one application at a time.

So... not a troll.

Re:Not a troll, IMHO, just "outside th box" thinki (3, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444833)

No the guy is a roll. The person didn't want to go away from Windows. He was asking which of the options he.listed was better. Captain Aspergers was just bring an asshole.

The best answers to questions (5, Informative)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445061)

The best answer to questions often invalidate the question's assumptions. For instance (while daring hyperbole) "How can I cut down on beating my wife?" is a flawed question because it presumes that a "lesser" quantity of wife beating will make it okay.

In applicaiton to current circumstances, trying to patch a "multiple desktop" abstraction onto Windows is tehcnically probelematic because the underlying OS is -not- intended to support that modality. It can be done, but it has some very negative corner cases and it consists of making the display "lie about" the underlying condition of the system.

To compare and contrast:

Since the various windows in a X-server implementation are -factually- distinct all the way back to the OS-level process abstraction, the practical mechanics of de-realizing the window (withdrawing it from the display without destroying it) is a real, first-class operation. This is true even before considering things like staring multiple X-servers on different virtual terminals etc. That is, under linux you can make semantic -or- programatic desktops, or both, to acheive the "multiple desktop" effect.

Since Windows uses a common event queue to post information to all windows, and that event queue goes all the way to the bone in the OS (it is the same event queue that, say, asynchronous IO events are returned with), the windows cannot be de-realized, they can only be hidden. So in this case the "multiple desktops" are illusory. This may be good enough for casual work, but it is terrible if you need to actually isolate actions between the actual "desktops". One of the primary symptoms of this is that in the Windows virtual desktops, windows "on desktop X" can spontaniously reassert themselves onto whatever desktop (e.g. desktop Y) you are seeming to view. Hidden modal windows can seize things up oddly and so forth.

So while the original poster, it may safely be assumed, was being troll-like in tone, he wasn't particularly incorrect.

(Of course the identical troll, with no explination, occured to me when I read the main article... I just held it in... because someone already had it covered... 8-)

Re:The best answers to questions (3, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445329)

In applicaiton to current circumstances, trying to patch a "multiple desktop" abstraction onto Windows is tehcnically probelematic because the underlying OS is -not- intended to support that modality.

MSDN disagrees with you. []

While Microsoft's implementation of multiple desktops is far from perfect it's incorrect to say they didn't intend to support it when the API is both present and clearly documented.

Furthermore, every window on Windows is associated with a desktop. I've yet to see a case where a window appeared on the wrong desktop or the input was handled incorrectly between desktops.

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39444827)

How do you have multiple desktops in Gnome 3?

Re:Linux (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444877)

You have as many as you like! They are dynamically spawned - the number in use, plus 1.

Now, if you like the fixed number of namable workspaces, with cyclical arangement? There are trivial shell extensions that provide this behavoir.

Re:Linux (1)

JackDW (904211) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445135)

Thanks. But how do you change desktops? How do you move applications to a new desktop?

On Gnome 2 the bottom right corner of the screen lets me change to another desktop ("workspace", in Gnome-speak). And I can move an application to a different workspace by right-clicking on the title bar. But Gnome 3 doesn't seem to have these features. No doubt there is an easy answer...?

Re:Linux (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444967)

It makes as many as I want. I find the way it works sort of irritating. But sometimes it's extremely convenient.

Also, it only makes multiple desktops on one of my monitors. And I find that behavior extremely convenient as well. Though it seems kind of inconsistent and results in strangeness sometimes if I disconnect a monitor. It's also sometimes irritating (but much less often irritating than the 'desktops on demand' feature).

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39444971)

Then shut the fuck up.

Bigdesk & Backmenu (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444705)

At least, they gave a bit of an X feel to Windows 3.1

Re:Bigdesk & Backmenu (1)

Johnny O (22313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445297)

How about kde, gnome, fvwm, etc, etc?

I couldnt post the normal capitalized names due to some weird slashdot thing:

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

It doesnt work well.

Desktops from SysInternals (5, Informative)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444735) []

Seems to work pretty well and fast in my limited use.

Re:Desktops from SysInternals (5, Informative)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444803)

Plus MS owns Sysinternals so that's the closest thing to an "official" solution you're going to get.

Re:Desktops from SysInternals (1, Insightful)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445209)

That, and Russinovich is a God among gods.

There are no "GODS" in coding gents... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445361)

No more than there is, say, the best musician or athlete - everyone has strengths, weaknesses & what-not... []


P.S.=> Fellas, we're ALL just men, even the 'good-to-great ones', of which I am just on the "I can get the job done level" in my own estimation of myself @ least... & what makes coders really good?

HARD WORK, & DEDICATION, just like any other field of endeavor, + education helps, LOADS, saving you years of mistakes in "experimentation" you would save yourself getting classical CSC education (datastructures is a great course here imo, for example)!

Plus, focusing on a project, going over & over it again & again in refactoring, optimizing, & trying new techniques eventually for even better performance/efficiency in apps, hence why upgrades happen as well as for bug patching or better errtrapping etc. (that is ONCE you get a solid bugfree & bulletproof BASE case working first), most of all... imo @ least! See the above as to that much... apk

It's good like most of "Dr. Mark's" work (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445275)

I've used it myself, & per my subject-line above? It's good stuff, like much of his work is (iirc, he's been doing "hybrid design" work too, where parts of his work are 32-bit & 64-bit driver underpinnings too, allowing for low-level ops on BOTH a 32-bit &/or 64-bit OS platform).

* No, he's not "perfect" & not "my hero" (though I admire his work)!

We have also had our disagreements before too! That doesn't mean I don't respect he, even though we had differences over time...

(I.E.-> Over memmgt & what-not where in the end? VISTA had to reduce their cache loading aggressiveness even, proving my point that dedicating "ALL FREE RAM TO CACHE" in Windows, wouldn't work, & where memory optimizers can unfreeze/unhalt exchange servers + more... & I've even earlier, pre that debate @ Windows IT Pro, corrected the design of one of his apps in pagedefrag.exe (hardcodes to both registry hive locations, pagefile.sys location, & more + how/where to overcome that in NT Native API code, beneath the UserMode stuff we generally access, etc./et al)).

He's not perfect, nobody is, but he does DAMN fine work when he does (processexplorer.exe being the "prime example").

HOWEVER, most of all?

He's been 'that good' since the mid 90's too, & his Carnegie Mellon education/PhD has generally "shown thru" since then... education of that level, & "living the job" always shows thru.


P.S.=> We both did wares for sale on contracts to Sunbelt software in the mid to late 1990's, & that's how I first was made aware of he & his works... Microsoft 'snapped him up' too, & that says WORLDS really, & on his blog I had to congratulate he on that much! Not everyone can get there, I was turned away after a 3-4 part inerview in 2003 in fact, proving I had more to learn is all!

So - I have to give credit where it's due, & that generally means you're PRETTY DAMN GOOD @ programming/analysis/design in comp. sci. related fields, especially @ a programming level! apk

I'm happy with VirtuaWin + two extensions (4, Insightful)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444761)

...those extensions being KvasdoPager (preview widget in taskbar, supports drag+drop) and SwitchDesk (separate wallpaper per virtual desktop).

Sysinternals Desktops mentions some limitations up front. I don't remember whether I've tried any of the others.

Re:I'm happy with VirtuaWin + two extensions (5, Informative)

rolfeb (1218438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444929)

I'll second the recommendation for VirtuaWin. I have a Linux background, and VirtualWin lets me set things up just as well as desktops under Fedora/KDE. Features that I like include:

- ability to define your own hotkeys to swap between desktops (I like ctrl+left/right arrow)
- ability to move windows between desktops
- ability to control window behaviour (e.g. make calendar pop-ups appear on all screens and on top)
- a nice minimalist indicator in the taskbar showing which desktop is active

Windows tends to only "see" the applications on the active desktop which is sometimes good and sometimes not. Occasionally certain applications won't recognise keyboard input when you switch to another desktop, but you can click on another application and then back to make it work. Maybe this bug has been fixed n a newer version.

More monitors (0)

HaDAk (913691) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444773)

I have 3 monitors. Who needs virtual desktops?

Re:More monitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39444825)

Laptop/Netbook users.

Re:More monitors (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39444887)

I also have three monitors. But I keep open a Windows 7 VM, a Windows XP VM, four or five RDP sessions, plus local e-mail, IRC, system monitoring, terminal windows and browser windows open simultaneously. I wouldn't say I *need* virtual desktops, but they help me organize which windows go together.

Re:More monitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39444899)

I am a prrogrammer and have 4 monitor where I work.
I use a desktop switcher to manage my tasks. I usually have several things to work on at the same time. If I have to look at something new, instead of trashing my current workspace, I switch to a new one. When I am done with new task, I can go back and pick up my previous task when I left off.
It saves lots of time when you have to multitask.

Re:More monitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39444947)

Everyone that doesn't have 3 or more monitors. "I have 3 monitors! Why would anyone else need virtual monitors??"

Re:More monitors (1, Funny)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445173)

640k monitors should be enough for anyone.

thanks (1)

madmayr (1969930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444781)

for asking this question! it never occured to me to look for this feature for windows allthough it's one of those things i really really like about X (and therefore my linux boxes)

Re:thanks (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444837)

Thanks from me too. I'm forced to use Windows at work and have long been looking for a good multiple workspaces program without finding anything.

Re:thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39444951)

Ok this might be marked as a troll but I would like to know. Why do you want multiple workspaces? Granted I have two monitors but that's only been in the last few months. Before that (and in my laptop) I only had one monitor and just had many windows open at once. Never had to remember what workspace my email client was in or IDE or browser. They where all there at the bottom of the screen in the task bar.

Re:thanks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445225)

It can essentially expand the number of monitors you have. Yesterday I was doing some audio stuff and had 2 applications full screen on my two monitors and the second workspace was for all of my synths and audio routing. Made it much nicer than having to raise individual applications.

Re:thanks (2)

JackDW (904211) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445033)

Multiple desktops are sometimes useful, but what I would really like on Windows is the ability to pin applications so they are "always on top". If anyone has any suggestions for that, I'd be very pleased to know about them.

Re:thanks (1)

unrtst (777550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445355)

Dunno about always on top (I'm sure there's a solution), but last time I used VirtualWin it did let you put a window on all workspaces (aka sticky or pin'd depending on the app). It may have always on top as well.

GoScreen FTW (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39444809)

I've been using GoScreen for years and years. It is perfect.

VirtuaWin over Sysinternals, Dexpot, & Virt Di (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39444823)

I have tried Sysinternals, Dexpot, and Virtual Dimension. But I am a pretty die-hard fan of VirtuaWin at this point. All other multiple desktop managers have been too slow, bloaty, cause problems with some windows, or just don't have the right features, (which for me is keyboard control and simple ways to move windows from one desktop to another). VirtuaWin wins on speed and stability alone.

Dexpot does everything I want out of the box. (4, Informative)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444829)

For a simple system that's pretty much completely hidden from users who don't know about it, Dexpot is hard to beat. Fully configurable keyboard shortcuts for fast switching, moving and copying windows, permanent assigning of windows/programs to certain desktops, and a bunch of plugins (I don't use any of 'em, but they're there if you need/want them) for visual effects and Win7 taskbar integration and such... It's pretty slick.

And most importantly - it's blazing fast.

Re:Dexpot does everything I want out of the box. (2)

webheaded (997188) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444891)

I use Dexpot and I love it. Basically everything you said...especially the keyboard shortcuts. Those are extremely helpful. Also the little icon in your taskbar tray will show the desktop you're on.

Also the window rules. You can setup rules so that certain windows go to a certain desktop or are even copied to them and all kinds of fun stuff like that. I would, for example, have a virtual desktop for work and another for playing around but I'd copy all my IM windows to both desktops automatically.

I've tried a lot of those other programs too and a lot of them were buggy or didn't do as much. The Sysinternals one was actually insanely buggy which is kind of retarded since that's supposed to be the MS one. I used that for quite some time but it caused all kinds of quirks on my system.

Re:Dexpot does everything I want out of the box. (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445227)

I tried Dexpot, but for some reason, it really conflicted with the screen saver required by my company's group policy. Sometimes, the windows would come back all borked, and I'd have to reboot to clear things up.

Nvidia Drivers (3, Interesting)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444843)

What about the virtual desktop software built into the nvidia drivers? I looked around and nothing came close for me.

Re:Nvidia Drivers (4, Informative)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444851)

(the exact name to google being "nview desktop manager")

Mac OS X *did* have Spaces before Lion (5, Funny)

adriccom (44869) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444845)

But it got nerfed into Mission Control in Lion 10.7 and is half-functional. You can't rename, reorder, arrange, or configure your "spaces" anymore. Shortcut keys still work for now...

They'll probably finish it off in Mountain Goat (10.8) since iOS is perfect and has no desktops so surely Mac OS X doesn't need them either.


Re:Mac OS X *did* have Spaces before Lion (2)

promythyus (1519707) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445253)

I disagree.
Virtual Desktops don't really need names, "Desktop n" is quite good enough. You can reorder/arrange your spaces by dragging them, the only thing that lion really changed was that all desktops are in a single row now, which makes sense considering the swipe gesture to move between spaces. The addition of full screen applications as their own space more than makes up for the loss of vertically aligned spaces. You can still configure programs to open directly to a certain space so I'm not sure what you mean by configuring your spaces, the removal of the system prefs panel is moot because it had barely any options besides layout of your spaces anyway.

4 Desktops for Mac, 1 fullscreen terminal that is always open, then 1 fullscreen virtual machine so I can swipe between operating systems!

Seriously? (0)

Ira Sponsible (713467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444857)

This is one of the main reasons I gave up on windows. No multiple desktops out of the box? Seriously? It's a basic feature of any modern desktop OS. Having to search for a good utility to add this capability to windows was among the many reasons it was much easier to switch to linux than to keep putting up with it. I didn't read the first post above as a troll. It's actually a reasonable question. Is there any real reason you would rather add basic functionality to an incomplete OS, such as vital programs, utilities, or games that won't work on anything else? If not, it's really worth considering giving it up altogether and using something that suits your needs better. For myself, I still have windows on my system, but I only boot to it on the rare occasions when I must sync to iTunes, or palm desktop, or run the current version of photoshop, none of which perform adequately (or at all) under WINE. Other than that, I don't miss windows at all.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444991)

of any modern desktop OS.

Choice between WIndows, Mac and a Linux distro... not really such a brilliant assertion.

No need for tools... (0)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444861)

...just get more monitors.

Um... (-1, Flamebait)

YankDownUnder (872956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444871)

Why bother even running an MS product in the first place? Chewing up even more system resource to basically emulate a *nix machine - with your antivirus/anti-malware/anti-spyware/firewall crap running along with God-knows-what else buried in the background - even the smallest of footprints (VirtualWin) lags and chokes (regardless of how much RAM)... Regardless of how many strings of pearls you put on a pig, it's still a pig.

virtuawin for the win (1)

abatkin (246575) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444879)

I use virtuawin, which seems to do everything that I'm used to on Linux (KDE). I also use a few Autohotkey scripts to make things easier when creating/finding/moving windows between desktops

My preference and a follow-on question (4, Interesting)

meloneg (101248) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444897)

As an answer, I've used Virtual Dimensions and Dexpot a lot. Last I used one, I preferred Dexpot.

Now, a slight variant of the question. Are there any truly multi-monitor aware virtual desktops. I mainly am looking for the ability to run the two screens as independent virtual desktops and change them independently.

Re:My preference and a follow-on question (0)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445005)

GNOME 3 only has one monitor be a virtual desktop in the default configuration. It would be nice if each were an independent one. I'm sure someone could do it with a shell extension.

Re:My preference and a follow-on question (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445213)

GNOME 3...

And that applies to a discussion about Windows how, precisely?

Re:My preference and a follow-on question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445243)

I know AwesomeWM lets you do this on Linux, but I have not been able to find this feature anywhere else

VirtuaWin (3, Insightful)

lksd (1731250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444905)

Working as a desktop support with 30+ windows/apps open at the time calls for virtual desktops, I have tried Sys internals desktops - fail, tried VirtuaWin and haven't look for any other replacement. Can have virtual desktops setup as I like, can have one window shown at all desktops, another window always at the top etc. etc. The best tool I have used :) Did i mention that virtuawin is packaged as a portable app (portableapps) = even easier to deploy and use when you are unprivileged user.

ATI might have an answer. (3, Informative)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444909)

I bumped into something that somewhat sounds like what you're looking for awhile back.
I was looking around the Catalyst Control Center and found something called HydraVision, which to my knowledge, allows multiple desktops.
Someone who's actually used this will have to confirm though.

Re:ATI might have an answer. (0)

bubkus_jones (561139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445071)

That's for multi-monitor setups.

Re:ATI might have an answer. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445079)

It does. I use it daily.

multiple machines (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444935)

On Unix the solution is trivial. On Windows the most convenient solution I have found is to have multiple machines. With the current economy that isn't difficult to accomplish if you're ok with using hardware previously owned by riffed or outsourced employees. This also makes sense from the standpoint that we are fewer people with more responsibilities, so it takes more desktop to do the work and more resources to drive it.

I currently have two desktop machines and two laptops on my desk. One is dedicated to alerts and performance metrics. One does email. One is my primary workstation, and the fourth catches overflow from the main machine. The youngest hardware is two years old, the oldest is six years. But it all still works, and there are spares from other former employees waiting in the wings.

Is there anything resembling the fvwm2 pager? (2)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445023)

Despite its age, it solves the problem beautifully and efficiently. If there is anything with the same flexibility and functionality (including edge-scroll, please) for Win 7, I definitely want to know. While I work mostly under Linux, sometimes it has to be Windows, and screen-clutter is a real issue there. I should also say that with less than 3x2 (better 3x3) desktops, I am not really happy.

Re:Is there anything resembling the fvwm2 pager? (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445165)

Yes. What's usually missing in alternatives on other operating systems is a pager. That's a simple straightforward way of managing windows and workspaces without needing to memorize any new key codes or break your working rhythm with a visual context switch.

alt-tab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445041)

I've tried some of the virtual windows apps and I keep coming back to ye old alt-tab. Quick and easy.

mDesktop works great... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445043)

I've been using it for several months now under pretty heavy load. I use 4 desktops with 3 applications that are persistent across all 4 desktops, as well as a unique application on each desktop. I switch across desktops constantly (see every couple of minutes or less) throughout the day. It is lightweight, efficient, and has never caused me a problem/crashed/etc, even though it is still technically a beta (I think). It works just like a virtual desktop should, as far as I'm concerned.

Why am I not just doing it in linux you ask? Because work requires me to be in windows... :P

Re:mDesktop works great... (1)

raolin (512968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445169)

I too am using mDesktop. It has proven easy to use and configure. I particularly like that I can set windows with certain title text as visible in all desktops, so Trillian is always around but my various tasks can be separated. I recommend it and have gotten a bunch of guys at the office using it too.

Re:mDesktop works great... (2)

raolin (512968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445231)

I forgot to mention that this handles dual monitors without issue, and goes from docked w/two monitors to undocked with one monitor seamlessly. If you decide to exit it, all applications collapse to your single desktop.

The one issue I have noticed is that if you have an open dialogue box it will likely die on desktop switching. This is a minor annoyance, but not one that has caused me much heartburn (and believe me, I have lots open, two and three copies of visual studio, and similar instances of SSMS running at a given time).

Sorry, should have thought all that through in my first post.

Do your work (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445047)

Than you won't need a desktop for porn and a desktop for "work"
Exactly how many open files/folders do you keep open that requires a new "virtual desktop"?
Clean up your workspace and you won't need it.

Why has this not become standard yet? (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445075)

I'm very surprised that this hasn't become standard. Even if not from the OS, but at least in video drivers. I recall a very nice multiple desktop tool was available with my video drivers on an old 4MB video card I was using with Windows 95. IIRC, it was an S3 Virge.

Re:Why has this not become standard yet? (2)

Kharny (239931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445389)

Both ati and nvidia have virtual desktop apps for their cards, nview and i think hydravision

VirtuaWin (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445077)

I have not used all of them on this list but at work I use VirtuaWin with the KvasdoPager module on Windows 7. Supports the windows task bar and dual-monitors flawlessly.

As always... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445085)

Once again, we see some ignorant Slashdotter claim Windows can't do something it's been doing for years and years.

> Windows had no out-of-the-box utility for multiple virtual desktops

"MacOS has Spaces" lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445095)

yeah, and KDE/Gnome have had multiple desktops since their inception. gee i wonder where Apple got the idea from.

Linux of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445105)

Minut, Ubuntu, DSL, Fedora, .... all make great multiple desktops - I CTRL-ALT-DEL to get to windows
once every few weeks or so. Works just fine!!!!!!!

VirtuaWin (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445107)

VirtuaWin works very well...what I really miss is the possibilities of devilspie or any other window manager which really allows to manage windows: Remove decoration, force position/size, always-on-top or below everything.

Windows Pager (5, Informative)

Tyrannosaur (2485772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445111) []

Its a lightweight free one that stays on your taskbar, like the linux ones I am used to. You can move windows either by dragging or right-clicking on the title bar. My favourite feature is "keep on top" that I have become dependent on with my linux desktop. :)

PS to run it, just run it. To make it run every time, put a shortcut in the "startup" folder.

KVM (2)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445137)

Get a video card that supports multiple monitors and hook them to a KVM switch. All the software implementations I have used have been so buggy that I stopped using them after a few weeks.

Re:KVM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445333)

It sucks when they fail too, unsaved documents that you can't access but you know are there. Good times.

Mostly unrelated: Command Tab in OS X (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445181)

I am a recent convert to a MacbookPro. Coming from a Windows->OS/2->Linux->XP->OS X history, I am a big fan of Spaces. Unfortunately I'm not a big fan of OS X's handling of Command Tab.

I want to Command Tab between all open windows, not just open applications and then have to do the CMD+~ to get to the next. I want it to work like Windows.

Now, I have been using Witch to do this and it works--most of the time--with Spaces. They have a known issue where sometimes it doesn't. Yeah, this is fine now that it's not-yet-Nagging-me-ware but it's going to start soon and I really don't want to have to plunk down $10 on an application which doesn't really work.

Figured you guys may be the best to ask. So what application can use COMMAND+TAB to switch correctly between all open windows on OS X while using Spaces for free? Yes, I know there are some free ones which don't work with COMMAND+TAB. Yes, I've tried some of them, no they're not acceptable.

Any ideas?

goScreen (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39445217)

I've been using goScreen ( for this purpose for years. I'm not sure how it stacks up to the other utilities you mentioned, but it is highly customizable. My current configuration allows me to use the window map to switch desktops by holding control and dragging my mouse to the right edge of the screen, and I can also switch to any application currently running on any desktop by right clicking on the right edge of the screen. There are of course, tons of other ways you can configure and use the program. I'd wager it can be set up to match almost any desktop switching environment you are currently accustomed to.

There are however a few downsides. For one it's not free, in either sense of the word. For another, it breaks Windows 7's desktop slideshow feature, switching you to an unsaved theme with only one wallpaper in the rotation every time a program changes your desktop resolution. Last but not least, every time you switch desktops, it changes the order of the windows in the taskbar. None of these are major issues for me, although I do really wish they'd get fixed at some point.

Not just desktops (4, Interesting)

evil_aaronm (671521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445307)

Mission Control, née Spaces / Expose, is not just about desktops. Multiple desktops are cool and all, but the better part is what used to be called Expose. Hit F9, and you get a choice of all apps running; select the window you want. Hit F10, and you get a choice of all windows from the current app. To me, that's way more useful than multiple desktops. I don't even bother keeping my desktop neat, anymore. I get the screen I want with one key, one click.

Dexpot kind-of works like that on Windows, but not as smooth. It also had issues with screen locking, but that might be just my machine.

VirtuaWin works for me (5, Informative)

rgbe (310525) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445317)

I couple of years ago I was in your position. I went looking for the best Windows desktop manager. I was coming from a Linux / X world and was spoiled with my rich desktop environment, but I am stuck with my corporate laptop with Windows XP. I looked at a few multiple desktop tools and VirtuaWin was the best and most stable for me. The other tool I tried for a while was the tool from Microsoft, but it was worthless.

The features I use most are
  - Switch desktop (dah!!) (using Windows Key + Left/Right)
  - Move Window to another desktop (via mouse clicks on desktop tray)
  - Keep window on top (via mouse clicks on title bar... very handy)
  - Always show Window (via mouse click on title bar)

I don't expect much of my desktop switching tool, just that it has the above functionality. It does have one bug that crops up 2 or 3 times a year, and that's that all the windows will appear on one desktop, even hidden windows that should never be seen as a window, like desktop tray items. I am just presuming this is a VirtuaWin bug, but I can live with it.

Sometimes when a process that is linked to a window is under heavy CPU load (like Excel sometimes) VirtuaWin won't be able to handle the Window very well. I think this is more of a MS Windows problem than a VirtuaWin problem, and this issue was extremely bad with the MS Multi Desktop tool.

The developer does not seem to be making updates very frequently, but there are no features or bugs I need fixed.

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