The release of Windows 7 is just a couple of days away. We have written our fair share about Windows 7 on MakeUseOf. Overall it is an upgrade/new purchase that you should definitely consider. Everything feels snappier and there are some added new features as well. Aero Peek, Aero Shake and Aero Snap for Windows 7, to mention a few of them.
If you are stuck with XP or Vista and would like to have a piece of Aero Peek and Aero Shake, no need to get disheartened. This is what I am talking about.
Users over at the WinMatrix forums (the source of many such innovations) has created an excellent software that brings such functionality to Windows XP and Vista. The application is called WinShake and is available for download here. Make sure you download the latest version (2.02 at the time of writing). Written using AutoHotKey, Winshake offers quite a functionality as you shall see:
An improved show desktop which can only hide minimizable windows, leaving the gadgets and sidebars intact, or hide everything to show the entire desktop. It also remembers the minimized programs and can restore them to their previous state even if you fire up more any more applications or windows.
A very good Aero Shak-ish feature: In Windows 7, holding a window’s title bar and shaking it a little, minimizes all other windows letting you concentrate fully on the window, that is under the mouse pointer. Winshake does something similar – hold the shift key and middle click on any window to shake it and minimize all other windows.
A Ctrl + Middle Click on the right end of the taskbar activates the peek functionality similar to Windows 7 peek functionality. While this one lacks the eye candy it certainly does let you peek at your desktop. Using Ctrl + Middle Click on the close button in the title bar of any window, makes it translucent and lets you peek through it at the window underneath.
There is a taskbar peek function as well that lets you peek at specific windows using the taskbar, but that is part of a nag and you can only use that for seven days after which you would need to buy a code to keep running this specific function. All other functions will however keep running even if you don’t shell out those bucks.
The application also offers shortcut keys for the above functions, which are easier to use as opposed to the mouse control, however you can easily disable them if you desire. Alt-Win-D shows the Desktop, Shift-Alt-Win-D restores the windows, Alt-Win-S activates Shake, Shift-Alt-Win-S restores the windows. Alt-Win-Space can be used to activate peek functionality.
If you don’t like the mouse activation commands, you can customize those too using the system tray icon. In addition to that the tray icon gives you access to other settings as well. You can customize animation speeds and transparency levels that will be used while performing various actions.
The application definitely lacks the eye candy you would get if you use similar functionality on Windows 7. That said, it does a pretty decent job of emulating the functionality and if a very good alternative if you are wanting such functionality on Windows XP or Vista.
Give Winshake a spin and pour in your thoughts about it. Know some other applications that emulate Windows 7 features? We would love to hear about them as well.