Microsoft Desktops: New Virtual Desktop Manager for Windows

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If you’ve ever used Linux for a while and started to get familiar with it then you probably used Workspaces (or at least on occasion).

Most people who get used to Workspaces find it difficult to live without them and switching back to Windows can be difficult or not even fully possible.

Now you can have your Workspaces in Microsoft Windows with Desktops!

Desktops is currently at version 1.0, but runs smoothly. By default it comes with four workspaces and is a single executable file. No installation is required at all!

So far, I really like the direction that Desktops is going! It seems that a lot of work has been put into it to make it work as intended. However, I did find several flaws with the behavior and limitations that Desktops currently has.

Upon starting, you will notice that none of the other workspace areas are activated until you select them. Selecting them takes a short period of time to configure that workspace and show applications that are apparently pre-decided for all workspaces (such as system tray applications and icons).

There was no way to drag windows between workspaces and that caused other limitations. Web browsers such as Opera and Firefox don’t like to run more than one “instance” of the application. It’s easy to open more windows to separate your tabs, but what happens when you’re in another workspace and need a browser window? Clicking the little application icon will most likely result in one of the two.

You will receive a message explaining that there is already an instance of the browser running (in another workspace of course) or your browser will interpret the action to mean that you need another tab and simply open another tab in the window that is not even visible (on another workspace).

These can be frustrating alone, but one of the most frustrating things is that your applications such as Winamp, AIM, Digsby, Trillian, Windows Live Messenger or where you’re using are not accessible via the  system tray in other workspaces so you won’t get a visual notification when that girl that you’re interested in sends you a message on AIM inviting you out with her for a night in the club. ;)

I also noticed that Aero didn’t work on workspaces 2-4 on my system. Maybe it’s still too soon to expect flawless performance though. :P Maybe these will be fixed in the near future.

If you’ve followed little tools like this that Microsoft has released in the past then you may have also seen Virtual Desktop Manager which was released a while back. Another desktop manager worth mentioning is Vista/XP Virtual Desktop Manager which offers some features stunningly close to those found in Linux!

Opera 9.6: Feed Previews

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Opera just released a snapshot today of version 9.6 with several new features. If you want, you can get an overview on all of them here.

For now I will just be talking about the Feed preview feature that they just included. I have been asking for this for a while now since Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari already support this (maybe others as well).

With the preview feature, it’s very easy to look over a feed and decide if the content is worthy of your subscription. Previously in Opera, clicking a feed icon meant that you had to immediately decide if you wanted the feed or not.

You could of course remove the feed later upon realizing it’s not worth following, but it was just extra steps that shouldn’t be there. Now the feeds are not mixed with your other subscriptions unless you decide to add a feed after previewing it.

The design seems to always be generated by Opera on the client side just to add a style that you can easily recognize and get a quick overview. The theme or design that they use is very clean and simple.

They also insert a little badge of honor at the bottom of the page to let you know that Opera generated the preview for you and they even inform you of the address to the feed!

Over all I’m pleased with this addition, however, I do feel that it took far to long to implement.

It’s a little sad sometimes to see our stagnant friend Internet Explorer a head of Opera sometimes in various aspects and implementations. For the most part Opera is usually a head, but at the same time they try to get a feel for things long before they decide to implement them to make sure they are promising…which is a good move, but frustrating sometimes to the end users who are expecting a feature for so long.

EDIT:
Here is a screenshot comparing the same Feed Preview across Opera, Internet Explorer and Firefox respectively. Opera takes the cake on simplicity. :D

If you can take a screenshot of a kyleabaker.com Feed Preview in any other browsers that I didn’t have access to while taking the ones above then please take them and upload them to ImageShack or something and post a link!