SocketHop: Windows Can Be Pretty, Too

Written by

Welcome to SocketHop, in which we bring you free (but useful) mini-apps and major (but relevant) headlines from the world of technology, hopefully demystifying the subject along the way.  Flood our inbox ([email protected]) and tell us what you think and what you want to see.  Be not afraid of technology!

Snazz Up Your Desktop: Exposé for Windows

Columbia is an Apple-happy campus.  Mac OS X (pronounced “oh ess ten”, Apple’s operating system) dominates in lecture and in lab, but let us not forget those of us who have stuck with Windows.

One of Mac’s spiffier features is Exposé.  Exposé presents miniaturized versions of all your open windows at once, allowing you to click on the one you want.  If you’re like Bwog and have twenty applications open at any given time, this saves you a lot of cycling through windows searching for your thesis draft.  A video of all Exposé features in action is on Youtube (skip to 1:15 for the “show all windows” feature).

Exposé on OS X

Windows’ most similar feature is in Vista (but not XP), called Windows Flip3D (Microsoft once again displaying its naming prowess).  It doesn’t simultaneously show you all open windows, but it allows you to visually cycle through them- not a good option if you have too many open.

A quick fix, after the jump.

But be not afraid: there are free applications available, one for Vista and one for XP, that imitate Exposé’s functionality.  For Vista, a small application called My Exposé allows you to assign a hotkey (simply put, a key combination you choose) or a screen corner to launch.  It looks and feels very much like the OS X version.

 My Exposé on Vista

XP, on the other hand, has a less-sophisticated graphics engine than Vista.  In Vista and OS X, the operating system draws each open element (application windows, the desktop, dialog boxes, etc) and then layers them in presentation.  In XP, however, what you see on the screen is treated as a single image, so when you move windows around, the operating system has to constantly redraw the entire screen.

In terms of an Exposé replacement, this just means that the effect is less pretty, as it is more difficult to quickly redraw mini versions of all open windows.  Bwog recommends Exposer, which does show you all windows, but without the eye candy.  If you’re satisfied with alt-tabbing your way around in XP, try the semi-official app called Alt-Tab Replacement, which shows you screenshots of each of the windows you’re tabbing through.

Next time: What do you want to see in this column?  Email us or leave a comment below.

Tags: , , , ,


  1. bwog,  

    there's a space between the os and the x. os x.

  2. science  

    "dominates in lecture and in lab"? I think scientists are increasingly using Windows as new programs can only be used on Windows platforms.

  3. Linux user

    If you think expose is the shit, you haven't seen anything. I guess if you will pay an arm and a leg for a mac, you can except second-rate stuff since you probably don't know what a good computer is.

  4. linux penguin  

    so who had 6:03 in the "linux user comes in and shit talks mac owners" pool?

  5. hah  

    you can tell it's a linux user because they wrote "except" instead of "accept"

  6. i reccomend  

    makeuseof.com - very good selection of mac and pc stuff alike (maybe some linux here & there) geared towards pretty casual, not particularly tech-savvy people

  7. ...  

    In XP, however, what you see on the screen is treated as a single image, so when you move windows around, the operating system has to constantly redraw the entire screen.

    i smell bullshit.

  8. tux

    Anything you can do,
    I can do better.
    I can do anything
    Better than you.

  9. Jim

    Fuck you and fuck macs

  10. Really?  

    Columbia is apple happy? Or is it just the rich kids whose parents buy them macs, and who don't even notice that the poor kids exist? Most people I know have pcs, and had to pay for them themselves. It's annoying how bwog assumes this "columbia culture" that doesn't really reflect anything other than a small group of people of which bwog/blue and white writers are a part. I guess it makes sense, though, since only rich kids have enough time on their hands to write this blog in the first place.

    • Not_Rich_Mac User

      I am truly stunned. I never knew one could be classified as playing into a rich "columbia culture" by owning a mac. Even though I worked as a research intern to earn the money to pay for my macbook myself, and was happy to do it because it was the only system that enabled me to work with all three of my systems (XP, Debian Linux, and Mac), my mac ownership labels me as an elitist?

      Seriously everyone, avoid the stupid generalizations, and stop trying to play up the "bwog is elitist" perspective. Bwog wrote an informative post that they thought would be helpful, don't turn it into something that it isn't.

    • umm  

      shouldn't you be busy jacking off into a cup for money?

    • um hi  

      i am by no means rich, so stfu about macs being elitist. who are you, fox news? where's your comment about arugula?

      macs are better computers in the long run. yes, the cheapest models are more expensive than the cheapest models of other brands, but they are comparably priced to computers of the same performance levels of other brands. plus they last longer, and when a new operating system comes out, you can actually put it on an older model, instead having minimum requirements that most older computers can't handle (vista).

      and some people, like myself, just like the mac interface better than windows and it has nothing to do with showing off how much money they have. so be quiet and stop whining.

      • You seriously think that  

        Macs are better computers in the long run? What kind of nonsense is that?

        Show me any model of Mac, and I can build a machine for at least 2/3 of the price or less with exactly the same specs. Hell, I'll even pre-install the oh-so-holy OS X on it if you want. Bottom line is, Macs are very overpriced for what they offer...

        Last longer? The first Mac my cousin had died within a year. Since then, she's spent thousands having to buy new machines every year or two because the Mac crapped out on her. In contrast, the desktop I built back in 9th grade (which quadruple-boots into XP, Vista, OS X, and Ubuntu) is still alive and kicking. And I've spent no more than $500 in upgrades since then.

        Computer longevity is not so much what kind of computer you have, but rather how you treat your machine. When all is said and done, computers are all exactly the same.

        • hey moron  

          build me a fucking laptop why don't you? best of luck.
          who the hell brings desktops to college?

          • Actually

            You can definitely build laptops. In fact there are several places where you can get empty cases and motherboards online and then most of the other stuff is somewhat common (probably have some at Best Buy) due to the fact that several people upgrade those kinds of internals of their laptops (hard drives, ram, graphics, etc). It is much less common that building a desktop, but it is certainly not difficult if you know how to put a computer together.

          • Actually  

            the computer I'm typing this on was built by myself. It cost less that $1000, double-boots Vista/OS X, and outperforms the MacBook Pro (and doesn't have the cooling problems that plague it).

            Make sure you know that something isn't possible before telling someone they can't do it...

  11. wow  

    bwog. this was terrible. what makes you think any of your writers are actually capable of writing a tech column?

  12. true


    rich folks more money more macs
    poor folks less money less macs

    i'm poor, wish i had a mac, can't afford, my internship money goes for food.

  13. Or instead...  

    if you're running Vista, you could always push WIN+TAB and actually use Flip3D instead of running more useless software on top of everything you currently run...

  14. Lovely, but

    BWOG, seeing as you can barely cover anything SEAS related, you might want to avoid a tech column.

  15. Computer Nerd

    I nearly had a stroke reading the above post! Macs a better value? What!? You don't even have to build the damn thing yourself, just go to Dell and they will make you a far faster, more reliable computer for 2/3 the price. My girlfriend has had a Macbook for 2 years...5 times it has had to go to the 'Genius' Bar for major problems. Not to mention the cases are made out of the cheapest plastic possible and crack easily. P.S. the new windows is receiving amazing reviews and is being rated higher than OS X (look at Gizmodo for proof). Save money! Save time! Don't buy into hype!

  16. ...  

    yeah well, i had a freakin next slab. beat that, jerkwads.

  17. ahhh  

    attack of the smug computer nerds!

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.