Fancy Alt-Tab Replacements

I saw a link to topdesk 1.4.x software over on Digg which boasted to be an alt-tab replacement that mimicks what Microsoft Vista‘s sexy composited alt-tab does. It’s now 5 minutes later and while it is extremely sexy, it’s about to be removed. The reason?

Being presented with a screen of thumbnails of current apps, semi-transparent and floating over top of each other looks a lot better than a bunch of icons representing the application icon, but for me is a lot slower in the brain. The actual switching from window to window is about as fast, but mentall it’s a heck of a lot easier to scan a bunch of application icons to find what you want instead of actually having to look at what is “in” those icons.

Thanks to this preview I’m not as excited about the compositing and graphics in Vista as I was before. The way they do it in the linux version of this (XGL and Compiz) is different and more subtle, and a bit easier to use than the full screen version (which I’m sure in vista will be an option (or hope at least)). Mostly I think it’s the size of the mini-icons you’re looking at. Smaller means your eyes have to move less and your brain has to process less than simply thinking “Ok, is this the window I’m looking for?”

2 Comments on “Fancy Alt-Tab Replacements”

  1. Hi, I’m from Otaku Software, the developers of TopDesk. If the Flip mode isn’t to your taste, you might want to try out the Spatial mode, a 2D layout similar to Expose on Mac OS X.
    While the Flip mode is nice eye candy for users used to Alt-Tab, I’ve found that once you get used to Spatial mode you can switch between a lot of open windows faster than either Alt-Tab or Flip.

  2. Thanks James, appreciate the pointers. The one issue that I have with spatial mode is that on a dual monitor setup things are spread over both moniters. A feature request I would have is an option to only put windows on the primary monitor.
    Thanks for the pointer!