Making Windows XP Tolerable

I can’t help but to share my experience with different operating systems. Technology is something we all need to use at some point in today’s world, and currently, there’s just three different system options. Almost everyone is familiar with Windows, but Macintosh and Linux computers are becoming more and more popular. And, we’re also starting to see some serious cross-functionality.

After using a Mac for an extended period of time, one comes to realize there’s a lot of usability functions and general “eye-candy” missing from Windows. Microsoft made an attempt at fixing this with Windows Vista, but there’s a lot of reasons why I won’t upgrade yet, the first of which is program incompatibility.

There’s a few things that can be done to make Windows XP tolerable.

A few themes are available that didn’t ship with XP. Typically, themes need to be digitally verified or signed by Microsoft before they can be added. There are ways around this, but they typically involve modifying XP in unsupported ways or installing third-party software.

There are two themes I found that require no modifications, hacks, or third party software.

Application Dock
Apple Macintosh computers have a unique feature called a dock for all applications. The dock exists in place of a Taskbar (which is the bar that includes the start button, quick launch toolbar, running applications, the notification area, and a clock on Windows computers). There are two solutions that provide the same functionality for Windows. Once a dock is installed, the taskbar can be hidden if desired.

Search & Launch
Spotlight is an amazing tool on Macs. It’s an application launcher and search tool all in one. The closest match for something like this in Windows (so far in my web experience) is:

I miss the Adium chat application! It allowed me to sign-on to all of my chat services at once. Luckily, there was a similar application for Windows:

  • Pidgin – Pidgin requires a lot of configuration before it “looks good”, but all of the same functionality is there. I’d recommend changing the theme by launching GTK+ (which comes with it). I would also recommend unchecking the “Buddy Details” option under the Buddies > Show menu. There’s a few fancy options (such as Transparency) in the Tools > Plugins menu as well.

Enjoy. I hope all of my playing around helps someone in their quest for Windows usability.

Published in: on October 13, 2008 at 5:55 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I’ve done some tweaking on my Windows desktop at home. It’s much less of a bear to use now but Mac still trumps Windows in security and stability, by far. The only thing I need Windows for is some games.

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