Everyone who has used Linux, one or the other time, knows how Linux has virtual desktops. You can place various applications in different virtual desktops to arrange them separately. For example, you can open development applications in one virtual desktop, multimedia applications in another virtual desktop, email and web browser in a third virtual desktop and so on. Using virtual desktop makes your desktop clutter free and well arranged. Now you can have virtual desktops in Windows too, using the free Microsoft Desktops tool.
The Microsoft Desktops tool adds virtual desktops to Windows XP, Vista and 7. It has a hardcoded four number of virtual desktops. You can switch between these virtual desktops using a hotkey. You can also switch through the virtual desktops using the notification area icon in Windows. The notification area also shows the preview of the virtual desktops so you can easily know which virtual desktop you want to switch to.
You can download it from the Microsoft Sysinternals website. The download is a ZIP archive of only 60 kilobytes size. You can extract the binary executable file from this ZIP archive to a folder and run Desktops.exe from there. The first time you run it, it would show you options for setting it to run automatically with Windows and allows you to set the hotkey for switching through the virtual desktops.
Once it is up and running, you can switch to another desktop by pressing the hotkey that you have set. I personally selected the default Alt and 1 2 3 4 hotkey and so I could switch using Alt + 1, Alt + 2, Alt + 2 and Alt + 4. You can also click on the notification area icon and choose a virtual desktop by simply clicking on its preview rectangle. If you have not switched to a virtual desktop before, then it creates a new desktop object and then opens it for you.
Because Microsoft Desktops tool creates a new desktop object for each of the virtual desktops, it also starts new processes like Windows Explorer for each one of them. This could skyrocket your RAM usage upto two three times than usual. Microsoft Desktops tool does not provide any option to close these virtual desktops and threfore these associated processes also keep running all the time. The only recommended way to close all the virtual desktops and the processes linked to them is to log off and then log back on.
Micrsoft Desktops tool is a free standalone application that does not require installing. It mimics the virtual desktops function of the Linux operating system and makes virtual desktops available to the Windows users too. It would have been better if it allowed you to set the number of virtual desktops, but it still does the job perfectly.
You can download Micrsoft Desktops from : http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/.