Updated: October 17, 2011
Linux has one cool feature that Windows sorely lacks - virtual desktops. Well, there are many cool features that I would gladly see ported back and forth, but that's not our topic today. Virtual desktops are what their name implies, virtual screen spaces that you can switch between, giving you more equity for your windows and applications. Rather than cluttering everything onto a single frame, you enjoy a large filmroll of desktops.
I tried several such programs and reviews shall be a-coming. The most prominent in the bunch seems to be a program called Dexpot. It's free for personal use only, not even charity and whatnot, but you can evaluate it for 30 days anyhow. Seems like a handy utility, so let's see what it can do.
Dexpot in action
Dexpot is fairly simple to install, click, click, click, BUT, notice the toolbar installation for Chrome. Make your own decision whether you need an extra toolbar, I'd say nicht.
Once installed, the program takes its unassuming place in the system tray. And this where the fun begin. Right-click to expand. By default, Dexpot enables four desktops, similar to a typical Linux box. You can switch between desktops, see them all in a manner quite similar to workspaces in Gnome 3 or stagger your open windows, somewhat like the Compiz Scale addon.
But first, let's do a bit of configuration, shall we.
You can change the number of available desktops, setup an individual background, add sounds, delay, custom screensavers, change resolution, and more. You also hide elements, like icons or the system tray in specific virtual spaces.
Full screen preview & gallery
Now, the fun part - and all the visual bling bling. Once you configure your desktops properly, you can enjoy clutter-free work combined with beauty and style.
The only thing I did not like with the full-screen preview is that the right-click option and close buttons of a previously used Aero peek option (see below) remained in the active desktop. It seems like there's a minimal refresh period, and if your system responds faster than that, you end up with ghost messages. This does spoil the beauty a bit.
I would also prefer if the background behind the quartered display was blank; currently, it shows the active desktop wallpaper, so you get some 1-2px space noise in between the desktops.
Desktop Manager & Desktop Preview
Similarly, you can manage your desktops using a hovering switcher that goes anywhere on your screen or a less intrusive management utility that is located near the system tray. The Preview tool is useful, because it also lists the open programs residing in a particular desktop space. This should help heavy users more easily find their scattered windows.
If you have the Aero peek preview or whatever the function is called in Windows, you'll be able to see your desktop arranged side by side, as if you had a number of windows of some regular application open. Works great, but don't hurry using the full-screen preview immediately afterwards, because you may end up with annoying leftovers of window elements and messages.
You can also pin the program to taskbar or integrate it into it, whatever that means. But if you're not fond of right-clicking in the system area, you have quick access this way.
Finally, when closing the application, Dexpot will offer to migrate all your scattered windows into the single remaining desktop - or close them. This is quite useful, as there's no need for tedious housekeeping.
Dexpot is a very neat program. The two issues that I encountered is the rather annoying but not so intrusive toolbar offering and the remnants of active application decorations in the full-screen view. Other than that, the utility performed well. It was fast and slick, with little to no delay, no large resource usage or memory leaks.
On top of that, you get beauty, style, improved productivity in a clutter-free environment, a high level of customization, and still more besides. Best of all, free for personal use, but do read the license agreement to avoid any awkward situations.
Dexpot, the virtual desktop tool for Windows; one thing missing, now it's there. Overall grade, 9/10. We'll get to see other such programs, but for now, enjoy your dextop.