Running multiple desktops in Windows XP

If you are a Linux or UNIX user, you must be familiar with the concept of "Multiple Workspaces”, also known as "Multiple desktops". What some people don't know is that this functionality now exists in Windows as well. This article explains how to get multiple desktops running in Windows XP by using Microsoft's free PowerToy add on called Virtual Desktop Manager. Step by Step install instructions are also included.


- Download the program from Microsoft's Powertoys web site at

- Accept licensing agreement

- Choose Custom setup, note that the default program files location is C:\Windows\System32, this is because it needs to be in your Windows System Path.

- To start the program, right click on the taskbar, choose toolbars and choose Desktop Manager

- You would now have four icons at the bottom of the screen on your taskbar; these are your virtual desktops

- Click on the preview button in your taskbar so that you can preview all your desktops at the same time

- Now try running one application on each desktop, such as Command Prompt on # 1 and WordPad on #2

- If you now switch between desktops, the applications you opened would be open on all desktops, but they would be maximized only on the desktop you launched them.

- The desktop shortcuts you create on one desktop would be visible to you in all desktop windows

The biggest limitations of Windows Virtual Desktop PowerToy is that you can not drag a working maximized window from one desktop to another and all windows appear either maximized or minimized in all desktops; same with the desktop icons, they would appear in all Windows as well.

There are other third party, alternative programs which would provide with the same functionality but you have to pay for them. The most popular alternatives are VirtualWin ( Yod'm (A 3D virtual desktop for Windows