I’ve always been a huge fan of the way Apple manages its user interface. I love the “clean” feel the UI gives to the power user, and the desktop in particular always looks great no matter how many times you look back at it in the day. I’m a Windows user at heart and will always be – I just work better compared to the other platforms, and I’ve tried both Mac OS and Linux for some time; neither of which offered me what I wanted or was comfortable with.
Skinning Windows 7 wasn’t the answer either – I always ran into problems with the hacked interface at one point or another and I usually uninstalled the app later because my OS always felt bloated after a while – mind you that was under XP, but that’s a moot point these days (I may have loved it then, but it’s a crappy OS today). A couple of years ago I stumbled onto an app that gives me the best of both worlds (well, sort of).
See, while I’m a fan of the new taskbar in Windows 7, everyone’s now got that – I no longer get “ooh” or “aah”s when I wake up my PC from sleep. Objectdock gives me something different and brings some good points along with it. I like having that extra 100-odd pixels freed up at the bottom of my screen and I usually hide the taskbar the first chance I get. But I hate having to scroll to the left to switch between my apps (I’m lazy like that). I could change the DPI settings on my mouse, but then it becomes too sensitive for my daily use.
On the fairly customizable docklet you have a list of your most-used apps, with arrow indicators to show you which ones are running. Changing through them using Aero Peek is an option but requires the full version of the software ($19.95). The charge may be a hard pill to swallow for some, but the free version offers at least the basic functionality most are looking for. Being the free version, you can only have a limited number of docks; fine for me, as I only use a handful of applications daily anyway.
Other customization options include the position of the dock, the style of the zooming-in when you hover over a shortcut, opacity and you even have a dozen-or-so free dock styles to choose from, with more to be found on WinCustomise.com. But while the software works as advertised – and very well, I must admit – there are a few gripes I still have.
The biggest one I have is that when minimizing an application, you’d expect it to have the same proportions when you switch back to it again. Objectdock brings back the app in a scaled form, sized down to about one-eighth of the full screen. I don’t know what the technical reason for this is, but perhaps the API it uses for task switching restricts it somewhat, and it deserves to be looked at in future versions.
This aside, I can whole-heartedly recommend Objectdock to users looking to change things up a little in their day-to-day activities on the computer.