Oh woe are we, for yet another freeware application has grown its wings and left the nest of awesome, available software that we can all install on our desktop and laptop systems ad infinitum. In case you haven't heard, Google has picked up BumpTop--technically, Bump Technologies--leaving fans of three-dimensional displays but a scant week or so to download the company's freeware app before it all goes away.
Of course, BumpTop isn't gone for good--it remains to be seen just how Google plans to integrate its multitouch-friendly, three-dimensional desktop transformations into the company's own services. Rest assured that you'll likely see some incarnation of BumpTop emerge in the future. But whether it's coming back as a standalone download or as a part of a brand-new device is anyone's guess.
However, that doesn't mean that you're left with no way to break your two-dimensional desktop out of its existing constraints. I'm taking a look at five different 3D transformation tools in this week's Freeware Files. Don't let the (brief?) demise of BumpTop be the end of your experimentation with three-dimensional system desktops!
There are quite a number of tools out there for stretching the core functionality of your desktop in new directions. Some of these third-party replacements keep your standard setup and add a unique extension--like a 360-degree wallpaper that you can scroll through with mouse gestures. Fun stuff, huh? Other tools are a bit more comprehensive in their objectives, allowing for a total retrofit of very core of your desktop's operation. In these cases, gone are the typical organizational structures, options, and extensions you can pack into a Windows desktop--it's all brand-new and editable in ways you might have never previously thought were possible.
The best way to really get a feel for what's out there is to see it in action. So we're going to take a look at three unique desktop enhancement tools--one 3D, one shell replacement, and one widget-based service--and see just how they stack up versus the usability of the trusty Windows setup we've all come to know and love (or hate.)
The recent release of Stardock's Fences tool (version 1.0) got me thinking about desktop organization. While Fences is certainly neat--the program lets you divide your desktop real estate into individual sections, surrounded by "fences," amongst other space-saving features--this freeware app isn't the only game in town by far. In fact, some of you expressed disgust at Stardock's latest release. Be it the fact that one needs to install Stardock's Impulse client just to access Fences, or your simple dislike of an application whose functionality is mirrored by other freeware apps, Fences was hardly a shot hit out of the park.
So, here we are. After the jump, I'll show you five different alternative desktop managers that will help you bring increased tidiness, prettier looks, and funer... er... more fun functionality to your typical workspace. Auto-arrange your icons one last time for nostalgia's sake, because I'm about to mix up your desktop crazy-style.
BumpTop, the sexy 3D overlay for Windows-based operating systems, purports to make your PC's desktop act "like a real desk," but that's hard to do when you're still required to fumble around with a keyboard and mouse. Realizing this, the BumpTop developers have added multitouch support, including a handful of gestures the company claims to have patents for.
In addition to the typical gestures found on just about any multitouch device, BumpTop ups the ante with gestures that use all five fingers, both hands, and even the side of your hands. Gestures the company claims to have a leg up on the competition include "lasso," "shove," " scrunch," "fan out," and a few others.
You can download a version of BumpTop for free, but if you want multitouch support -- as well as the ability the toss files onto USB keys, thumbnail previews without watermarks, and other extras -- you'll have to shell out for BumpTop Pro, currently priced at $29.