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Rumor: Windows 9 to feature virtual desktops

Windows XP Virtual Desktop

One thing that I can clearly remember dabbling with back during the Windows XP era was the Virtual Desktop Manager. If you’re not familiar with it (or are using XP to read this right now) it is/was available as part of Microsoft’s PowerToys pack, which never again saw the light of day in other versions of Windows (Vista’s pack was complete crap). The software gave you four virtual desktops, but they were all separate – you couldn’t, for example, send an open application to another window like you can in Linux, or OS X spaces. According to some recent leaks on NeoWin, though, it seems that Microsoft is ready to revisit having multiple desktops with Windows 9.

NeoWin doesn’t have a source cited for their claim, but they’ve been putting out a lot of interesting Windows 9 (codenamed Threshold) coverage over the past few months and there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason to lie this early into the game. Threshold is due for a public preview in April 2015 and more than likely will see a launch sometime in October 2015.

“Microsoft is considering bringing virtual desktops to Windows Threshold,” writes NeoWin’s Brad Sams. “The feature, which is already on other platforms like Ubuntu and OS X is currently being tested and is said to have similar functionality to that of Ubuntu. You can activate the desktops with a button on the taskbar (subject to change) and there are keyboard shortcuts that let you jump between active desktops.”

I’d personally like to see this implemented for the single reason that it would solve the biggest issue with owning a laptop or netbook – you’re usually stuck with a single desktop. Windows 8 lay down the foundation for this by making the desktop appear as another full-screen app insode the Modern UI interface. It would be much easier now to introduce users to the idea that they could have multiple desktop “apps” running at the same time, switching between them as needed using hotkey shortcuts, switching via the Superbar or notification tray, doing it through the Start Menu or swiping in from the right on a touch-compatible monitor.

It may also end up being something very similar or possibly better than Apple’s OS X Spaces, but as with all things Microsoft, they always make one positive change in Windows and two negative ones because they can’t keep their design philosophies centered across all the groups working on Windows 9. I look forward to having native virtual desktop functionality in Windows 9, fingers crossed.

Source: NeoWin

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  • Delano

    I dunno… to be totally honest, I’ve never been particularly fond of virtual desktops, on any platform. I find it unintuitive and redundant, especially since screen resolutions these days are pretty high and since I personally use two monitors. The concept makes more sense on single screens at far lower resolutions, but otherwise it just adds another layer of complexity to the desktop metaphor.

    Wesley, have you ever used Dexpot? It’s free for personal use and has a *ton* of options, including portability, up to 20 different desktops, multiple screen support and seamless intergration into Windows. It may be third-party but I bet it’ll be far superior to Microsoft’s implementation.

    • Bart Burroughs

      I actually use it more than I thought I would on Ubuntu (my prefered Linux distro) sometimes comes in handy. for instance I am playing a Steam game and want to do something different like email someone etc. I can pause the game, move my mouse to the top right corner of the screen to show my desktops and select a different desktop and do anything I want without closing my full screen game etc. it has other uses as well that is just one example.

      • Delano

        It can come in handy, yes, but you achieve the same effect in Windows by either pressing alt and tab or the window key; the former brings up a cascade view of open apps, the latter minimizes the main window and brings up the start menu. And honestly, it’s a bit easier than trying to keep track of different windows in different desktops.

        • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

          Only problem is that many app and game developers don’t follow the Windows design documents when compiling their stuff. So many games don’t like to be Alt-Tabbed or Winkey+D that I sometimes wonder if running in windowed mode wouldn’t e easier – and then you have to deal with another layer of complexity because many games don’t run nicely in windowed mode either.

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