MultiMonitor Support and Windows Vista, XP

Among my many gripes about Windows Vista (see My Struggles with Windows Vista), is the lack of truly useful window management shortcuts.  Multiple monitor configurations are becoming increasingly common, and the Windows desktop simply hasn’t kept pace.  Sure, if I’m willing to click on numerous UI elements, I can reliably move a maximized window from one monitor to another and resize it to my liking.  My current setup includes a widescreen 22″ LCD and a 19″ LCD that’s rotated for a portrait view (it’s great for editing documents and reading web pages).  Overall, the common task of managing windows on multiple monitors shouldn’t be an ordeal.

Fortunately, there are several third-party software products (some free) which help make the process easier.  I have evaluated a couple of them and thought I’d mention my findings:

  • UltraMon is a commercial product that provides features for managing multiple monitors.  It allows you to span wallpapers across multiple disparate displays.  Most importantly (for me), it allows me to create simple keyboard shortcuts for moving and resizing windows between monitors.  It’s a bit pricey for the functionality, but it really does help.  Unfortunately, I started having some display driver issues with my Nvidia GeForce 8300 GS drivers after I installed the latest beta.  Hopefully a final release version will address that.
  • DisplayFusion: DisplayFusion looks like it was originally designed for managing wallpaper settings for multiple monitors.  However, it offers a simplified configuration UI that allows you to create hotkey shortcuts for moving and resizing windows.  Currently, this is my favorite as it hasn’t broken Windows Vista and you can’t beat the price (it’s free, but donations are accepted).  This one gets my recommendation, at least for now.
  • GoScreen: GoScreen is designed for use on Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs), such as tablet computers or portables that have touchscreens.  It provides features for more easily managing windows.  I haven’t yet tested the product, but it does seem to have a large number of useful features

Overall, these utilities effectively fill some gaps in Windows Vista and make me far more productive (I also couldn’t turn down the shot at alliteration in this post’s title).

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