Another PowerToy is Virtual Desktop Manager. Virtual Desktop Manager is Microsoft’s free attempt to offer a tool like multiple desktops, which has been available in Linux for several years now.

The coolest part of VDM is the ability to show all four desktops at once (photo right). From this display, you can click on one of the four desktops and it will zoom in to that desktop.

Like the multiple desktop tool in Linux, VDM permits control of four desktops. It does so, through “virtualization,” which, in this case, is apparently utilizing the Show Desktop command. I say this because the open programs don’t go away from the task bar they just remain there.

Installing VDM puts a toolbar in the task bar. Clicking on one of the four buttons in the toolbar makes the programs on your virtual desktop disappear and gives the you a clean workspace. (BTW, I would call this PowerToy “Workspace Manager” given its quirks.) In the new workspace you can open up new programs or browser windows.

All in all VDM is kind of useful, but there are plenty of bugs. After a couple of minutes of usage, I’ve noticed the following:

  • Loss of the desktop background photo;
  • iTunes has a tendency to show up on all four desktops;
  • Through the task bar you can access programs running on other virtual desktops, if the same program is open on different desktops.

Linux has proven that this capability in an operating system can be very useful and powerful. We know that VDM is just freeware, but it just reminds us of what Windows XP doesn’t do.