What would you like to see in Vista Power Toys?

What would you like to see in Vista Power Toys?

Summary: Starting with Tweak UI for Windows 95, Microsoft has a long tradition of releasing geeky utilities that quickly become essentials for Windows power users. Now that Vista has been out for a few months, the first batch of power toys can't be far behind. I'm starting a list of ideas on the chance that someone at Microsoft is looking for some inspiration. Add your suggestions here.

TOPICS: Windows

Microsoft has a long tradition of releasing power toys for Windows. These are invariably unsupported (although the batch written for Windows XP were pretty polished) and generally pretty darn useful.

Power toys tend to come out when you least expect them, often starting out as a hobby project for a Microsoft programmer (Raymond Chen, author of the original Tweak UI, would be the first member of my Windows Hall of Fame). I suspect it takes some pushing to get Microsoft’s semi-official blessing and be released as unsupported code, so we might not see them until after SP1.

So, dear ‘Softies, on the off chance that you or someone you know is working on Vista’s Tweak UI and other would-be power toys, here are some ideas, absolutely free (and worth every penny). If you’ve seen some Microsoft utilities floating around that deserve wider mention, post them in the Talkback section. And if you’ve got a favorite tweak you’d like to see in a power toy, add your suggestions to the list here.

Here’s what I want to see in Vista Power Toys:

1. Search Toy. Give me a stripped-down search tool where I can set some criteria in a small dialog box and get results like the ones that appear on the Start menu when you use the Search box. You could start with Brandon Paddock’s Start++ and not go wrong.

2. Save My Settings. Let me save the settings for any individual program installed on my Vista PC. If I have program A, B, and C on my system, I’d like to save all the personalization information I’ve saved in the registry and in various settings files and templates. I would love a snapshot of my settings for Snag-It or BlogJet or Clear Context IMS Professional or ClipMate or RoboForm or OneNote or any of the other programs I can’t live without and install on any new system as soon as possible. The Windows Easy Transfer wizard does some of this, but I want a quicker version that will work with one or two programs at a time instead of my entire system.

3. Move Public Folders. Currently, you have to hack the registry to change the location of the Public folders to a drive other than the system drive. I’d like to be able to move these files with a couple Tweak UI clicks.

4. A point-and-click interface for RoboCopy. What? You haven’t heard of the Robust File Copy Utility, Robocopy.exe? It’s a command-line power user’s copy command, introduced in the Windows 2003 Resource Kit Tools and installed in the WindowsSystem32 folder in all editions of Windows Vista. Microsoft’s Derk Benisch has already produced Robocopy GUI. It deserves a wider audience.

OK, those are my suggestions. So what would you add to this list?

(PS: Blatantly copying great features from other operating systems is no problem at all. A good idea is a good idea.)

Topic: Windows

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  • How about a tool for disabling the WGA check.

    • Two simple solutoins

      Don't use pirated Windows and don't go to the MS site and allow it to be installed.
      • WGA

        is part of the OS on Vista. Try again. And if your Activation key somehow gets on
        MS' black list your Vista gets disabled. You do know that's why MS checks your
        activation every few days, correct? They want to make sure your key doesn't wind
        up on their black list.

        Oh, and guess what? I just discovered yesterday that XP has a maximum limit on
        the number of times you can install with the same activation key. Doesn't matter
        that my copy is legitimate or my installations were all legitimate. After a certain
        number of activations, XP will throw you an error message saying the maximum
        number of activations with this product key has been exceeded. Contact MS for
        more information.

        But, smile because you deserve it. Because somebody else is a theif.
      • um, no....

        not so simple. I had several clients who purchased legit copies of windows and had the WGA mess up plenty. Yes, you can straighten it out eventually, but it can take some time. With XP it wasn't such a big deal.. you just got some nag screens & couldn't download some stuff from MS downloads. Irritating maybe, but no biggie. Certainly shouldn't have any financial implications.

        Vista is an entirely different story... instead of nag screens, MS actually DISABLES YOUR system. It defies imagination. *My* computer, *my* internet connection, *my* legally purchased software (and not cheap either), and yet they have to right to determine unilaterally that it should stop functioning. It's ***MY*** computer!!!

        Imagine driving down an interstate doing the speed limit... when all of a sudden GM decides to deactivate your alternator because it didn't phone home correctly and on time!

        Nope, not for me. They won't be able to pry my copies of WinXP from my cold dead hands. Vista smista. And I wont touch a Vista machine for friend and family. Clients can choose it if they want, but they will have to sign a release before I'll go anywhere near it.
        • Don't Pay Attention To Him

          He's not who he says he is..he's assumed about 50 different job identities since I started posting here, he's just another shill without a clue.
    • Best Powertoy I could ever think of

      • best power toys ever

        1. target
        2. tweak ui

        Maybe Microsoft can redeem itself from the hash it has made with Vista if it offers such basic and useful tools. After all, it was MS that caused us to depend on these tools!
  • UAC Exclusion List

    I have apps that have to load as Administrator. I would like to selectively exclude those from the UAC alert. This includes all MMC administration tools! It is stupid that I have to click on the UAC box every time I want to run Remote Desktops to administer my clients' servers remotely!
    • Good idea, but

      You shouldn't have to respond to a UAC dialog box to set up a Remote Desktop connection. I have a half-dozen RD shortcuts here and they all open right up with no prompting.
      Ed Bott
  • Beyond Compare from Scooter Software

    This application puts RoboCopy to shame, yes it costs about $40 or less, but it can be scripted and provides a graphical comparison view as well.
  • Aero upgraded so it runs as effectively as Beryl (nt)

    The Banjo
    • You will see this in some shape or form

      Microsoft released a lot of demos of the Aero interface doing a lot more than what has been initially released. After all, Aero is nothing more than a Direct3D application.

      There are third parties that are working on desktop shell enhancements as well. I think you'll see a lot coming out over time, by this time next year no doubt.

      Beryl is cool, but its still a beta.
  • Robocopy GUI needs more

    Robocopy GUI isn't much better than the Robocopy command line. It still forces me to look up command line arguments. Make it a little more self-documenting and it would be great. Put a help button in it that explains the argument and it would at least be OK.

    With the current GUI it doesn't add much to Robocopy. It still requires me to look through the full doc to find the switches that I need to use.
    • RoboCopy Command descriptors are there.

      >> It still forces me to look up command line arguments. <<

      Just hover the mouse over the commands and a description pops up.
    • Robocopy GUI needs more. Try Copyrite XP

      They really need to emulate programs like CopyRite XP.
      It makes it so much less cryptic.
      I suspect MS will eventually make it great and keep it free but If you can't wait see http://copyrite.dynu.com
      There are several other free ones out there too but I haven't found one I like as much as CopyRite XP.
      Free Lifetime upgrades too.
      There's a bit of a lag in support response but I think it's a time zone difference thing.
      Great support other than that.

      • Robocopy GUI Needs More

        Copyrite is a t a new site
      • Robocopy GUI Needs More

        Copyrite site is now at http://copyrite.dyndns.biz

  • Vista Toys

    I got it!! How about an operating system that actually works smoothly with my current software??? Now that would be really novel.
    • You mean Windows XP?

      Ed Bott
  • Give me back VIrtual Desktop

    Oh, where, oh where, did Multiple Virtual Desktops go!?