Wednesday, September 06, 2006

SoftHints - more programs that should be part of Windows!

First of all please let me have my seconds of gloating - only 4 days after I suggested that Google should also extend scanning to magazines we have an article in NYTimes with that :) Obviously I would have liked a vastly bigger selection and I would not mind some smarter integration with Google advertising (so that I could check for free the entire scan of the 1956 Popular Photography for instance) but it's a start ...

Now back to SoftHints - that was launched in this post as suggestions for very valuable tools that Microsoft should simply buy (at a probably incredibly low price compared with other M$ 'investments') and add to the more advanced (and expensive) versions of Vista - the very first suggestions were Total Commander and WhereIsIt ...

This post will be about other such small programs - but this time the first two from a single source called XdeskSoftware - they also have some other programs but here we will only cover the most important stuff.

The very first program is called Xdesk - it was providing virtual desktops for different versions of MS Windows since the previous century and normally I would consider that more advanced tool ONLY for power-users ... but since now even Apple seems to be wanting to go that virtual-desktop-way I suppose it might be the right time for Microsoft too ... I believe they (Microsoft) had a number (3 ?) of similar free virtual-desktops power-toys but none was anywhere close to Xdesk so why not ... And what is also amusing is that some time ago Xdesk also added something not entirely different from Expose (but without the hardware acceleration - that I believe might only come with specific support in Vista) - so with that the Mac-envy will be placed to rest again :)

The second program is called XFilesDialog and is more 'everyday use' and less visible than Xdesk - it will only become visible on file-dialogs and some other file-related programs but can grow on you very fast and you will soon discover you can't live without it anymore - I believe the program was a HUGE hit for various older Windows versions (where the file dialogs were of a fixed size, and the program was enlarging them) but even today it is still a must-have Windows power-toy for it's history of cross-program files and folders and favorites and the very quick navigation!

As a small extra I will add a quick reference to another program that I "can't live without" - IrfanView - this one is freeware (the first four suggestions were all commercial products) and is a very handy tool in viewing local folders with many pictures inside - like in the XFilesDialog example above Microsoft has tried in XP to add some of the basic features - but again the non-Microsoft program is still miles and miles ahead ... so why not make another small author happy and in the process add to Vista a tool better than anything the Macs have :)

So now you have it - please let me see what you believe about other such invaluable tools that should be part of Vista!!!

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