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For web designers, musicians, filmmakers, and artists using Windows software for their craft, one of the more common issues that occur on a Windows desktop computer is that it has physical limits with regards to the screen’s display area and to state the obvious, there is simply no way to expand on these physical limits. A person is stuck with the physical limits of the screen. This can be frustrating when more space is needed to complete one’s work. This is where a virtual desktop comes in. A Windows virtual desktop allows the user to expand on their desktop environment through the use of software. This compensates for the limited physical space as well as assists in reducing clutter. And now, with the click of a mouse or the press of a key, a user can get all their work done on one computer. They’re no longer required to purchase multiple computer monitors to record a piece of music or to design a web site. It can all be done through one screen thanks to virtual desktop windows.

Currently, Windows offers a utility called “Desktops”, aka virtual desktop windows, which a user can use with any Windows operating system later than Windows 98. This utility allows the operating system to run applications on up to four virtual desktops. This utility is the most basic version of what a virtual desktop is. Limitations to this utility include being unable to move programs between virtual desktops, unable to set different backgrounds, and possible application compatibility issues. These are common as many application developers don’t typically expect their software to be used in a virtual desktop setup in a Windows platform. To contrast this with a Mac operating system, where there is native virtual desktop support in the form of up a utility called “Spaces”, a user can create up to 16 virtual desktops in comparison.

Additionally, with virtual desktops on a Windows platform, there is third party software to make this possible as well.

For virtual desktop windows, “Dexpot” is likely the most popular out of all of these options. With a multitude of features included and offering up to 20 virtual desktops to be created on a Windows platform, Dexpot is offered as a free application for private use and approximately $32 for commercial use after the standardized 30 day trial period. Other third party virtual desktop software for Windows includes “VirtualWin”, “Virtual Dimension”, “Finestra”, and “goScreen”. With the prevalence of “Desktops” in Windows, these programs are often rich in features that aren’t available otherwise. These may include the possibility for additional plug-in enhancements, live thumbnail previous on the taskbar, the ability to move windows between the virtual desktops, an unlimited amount of desktops, and password protection. Out of all of these names, “Dexpot” comes highly recommended based on user preference, however, it is best to find the one that most suits your unique needs.

Virtual desktop windows are ultimately extremely beneficial to users that are in need of the desktop space. To be able to sequester different applications into unique virtual desktops allows you to keep the various tasks you do separate and it also keeps your desktop cleaner. Each one of the programs mentioned above does implement this behaviour a little differently but ultimately, the benefit is the same. For a novice, there’s no reason to look past Windows’ own “Desktops”. If you open a lot of applications all at once and simply need something to help keep them organized yet visible, “Desktops” is likely the appropriate solution. It is however limited in features and isn’t as user-friendly with regards to what a user can do with it but for basic use, it is the better option. It doesn’t require a person having to go install a piece of software that they’re unsure of. It is best to start here with “Desktops”. If this isn’t up to snuff with what you need it to do, look at some of the other software mentioned here. For an advanced user, who may need it for music, film, or another form of multimedia production and who doesn’t have access to multiple monitors, download a few trials and see what suits you best.

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