Whether you're using Windows XP or an older version of Microsoft's operating system, Windows exhibits a distinct lack of comfort in use where everyday tasks are concerned. Why not use an alternative desktop that lets you switch between applications more comfortably, or convert your music to MP3 files with ease? All this is possible, thanks to open-source software.


The desktop is the interface between the user and the operating system. In other words, this is what you'll be faced with whenever you use your computer. For years, KDE has offered virtual desktops, a feature that helps users to keep an overview of running applications while reducing clutter in the user interface, but Windows lags behind in this respect. So why not upgrade Windows yourself to add the missing features?

The better Desktop: With Virtuawin (freeware) you can extend your desktop area by up to eight more virtual desktops. This tool is especially helpful when several applications are used simultaneously. For example, you could launch a graphics editor on one desktop, keep your browser and email client opened on the second, and continue working on your word processor in the third. The advantage is that none of the application windows overlap.

Litestep (freeware) on the other hand, is a completely new user interface for Windows; both its design and functionality can be freely configured. For instance, the indicators for CPU or memory usage, an audio player or other tools can be placed in the Litestep taskbar. The program completely replaces the previous Windows desktop environment. Its strengths lie in its great flexibility and extensibility. Another bonus is that a very active Litestep community exists on the Internet, which has already created countless installers, themes, modules and much more. All of these creations are available as free downloads, which makes the installation of Litestep - which used to be a little on the difficult side - a breeze.

Litestep installation: Choose the default settings