Thursday, February 28, 2008

Better Alt-Tab Replacements Showdown Part 2 of 2: WinFlip

Yesterday I reviewed another ALT-Tab window switch alternative called Taskswitch XP Pro, and it passed with a generally good score, with the exception of it being almost too full-featured, and requiring a system tray icon being always visible (i.e. you can't hide it). Today I'll be reviewing yet another ALT-Tab option, called WinFlip.

WinFlip mimics the 3d Alt-Tab feature of Windows Vista, which is cool for those like me who like Vista's visual improvements but not its resource intensiveness and general bugginess (and have thus stuck with Windows XP).

(Image courtesy of the official Winflip website)

Pros: WinFlip comes in a zipped folder that, once unzipped, works immediately. I.E. NO INSTALL NEEDED. Even better, that means if you want to uninstall it, just delete the folder. I love this, and wish all programs were this easy to install and uninstall. You'd still need to put the folder somewhere convenient (probably still the Program Files folder), and add a shortcut to the Start menu's Startup folder so it'll start up with Windows, however.

Winflip miraculously also only requires around 1.8 megabytes of RAM most of the time, HOWEVER I have seen it jump to almost 10. I don't know why it did this, but it seemed to be a one-time occurence. While it can't ever trump Taskswitch's 0.8-1.2 MB RAM consumption, I have heard that Winflip uses far less RAM than the comparable feature in Windows Vista.

Winflip also offers options for window size, anti-aliasing, texture quality, and change of hotkeys. It's set to default for WIN-Tab, which made it convenient to compare it back and forth with Taskswitch.

And of course, it's pretty.

Cons: First of all, Winflip does require a system tray icon, but thankfully it remains functional even with the icon set to hidden.

Unfortunately, for some reason Winflip would not overlay with my wallpaper showing, like it seems to be able to do in the screenshots I've seen (including the one I've posted here, which is not of my desktop). I assume it's because of my use of Ultramon to handle multiple monitors. It's not that big of a deal but it does take away some of its visual flair.

Finally however, Winflip seems to have problems rendering OpenOffice documents and other programs that use the GTK+ (GIMP Toolkit) engine for creating GUI. The author of Winflip has acknowledged this as a problem but claims it's a GTK bug, not Winflip. I find it hard to believe GTK will fix this anytime soon, and in response to Winflip.

Overall: If you don't use OpenOffice and Ultramon, Winflip is yet another lightweight solution to Vista-fy your XP machine without committing all the way. Unfortunately, the visuals are bogged down with the rendering bugs that I encountered. I suggest you try it yourself and see if it works perfectly for you. And if you don't like it, it's very easy to get rid of.

So what option am I gonna go with? Surprisingly (at least to me), I've decided to go back to Microsoft's own Alt-Tab Powertoy, which was the first Alt-Tab replacement tool I featured almost two months ago.

Why? because it worked perfectly with no bugs as soon as I installed it, it was lightweight enough, and did not require a system tray icon. For a function that I don't use too often (I don't know who does), visual flair will never overcome bugs and lost productivity.

Related Posts by Categories

Widget by Hoctro | Jack Book

No comments: