My Must Have Windows 7 Utility: Stardock Fences

Stardock's free Fences utility brings the sanity of icon and program management back to Windows.

Stardock's Fences utility, a free download, allows you to corral your desktop icons into "Fenced" areas which can be moved around your desktop, and are independently scrollable. Click on screen shot to enlarge.

For the last several months I've been beta testing Windows 7, and in the last week, I finally migrated several of my systems over to the release version of the software. While I generally feel that Windows 7 is simply just the Windows Vista we were supposed to get in the first place, polished to a glossy sheen, I had some usability concerns about changes in the User Interface that bothered me and frankly, they still do.

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The main UI issue I have with in Windows Vista is that the Start Menu defaults to the "New Style" mode instead of "Classic". In Vista, you can switch to Classic with a few mouse clicks. However, In the case of Windows 7, you don't even have the OPTION of going back to Classic, it's been completely removed.

Generally speaking I don't really like the Start Menu and scrolling and panning around, I've always liked placing all my frequently used icons on the desktop where I can see them. Maybe it's an anal retentive thing, or perhaps it's that my desktop OS usage preferences are still firmly tied to the Windows NT 3.51/Windows 3.1 Program Manager and OS/2 2.x/3.x Workplace Shell days.

Others may l say that I am a dinosaur and that I refuse to learn new ways of doing things, but this is the way I like my desktop, organized into folders. If you're like me and hate the "New Style" Start Menu with a passion, have I got a utility for you -- Stardock Fences.

Stardock Software is an old timer in the software industry, which originally started out making utilities for IBM's OS/2 2.x operating system in the mid-1990s. When the OS/2 market eventually petered out, they went into making desktop enhancement products for Windows.

Today, Stardock has Object Desktop, which replicates some of the Object-Oriented functionality of OS/2 on Windows as well as ObjectDock which emulates the behavior of this other obscure operating system that comes from a fruit-flavored company out in California where all their jackass C-Level employees wear pretentious black turtlenecks. They've also got Multiplicity which allows you to share one keyboard and one mouse with two separate computers with integrated clipboard Copy and Paste as well as file transfer support.

Stardock Fences also runs in Windows XP.

Stardock's latest utility, which is free for private use, Fences, allows you to corral all your favorite programs into icon groups/folders on your desktop. Each group can be independently moved with all the icons in it, and will auto-flow the positions of the icons when you resize it, as well as have its own scrollbars if needed. Additionally, when your desktop area is double-clicked, all your groups vanish so your desktop becomes uncluttered. With just another double-click, they all come back. Finally, sanity returns to Windows icon management.

[EDIT: apparently. in Linux, this is exactly how this same feature is implemented in KDE 4.x, but no such feature has been ported to GNOME's desktop yet]

Fences is ideally suited for Windows 7 and Vista, but it also works on XP as well. The software uses only a small amount of system resources, so even if you have a netbook, the software is a great add-on.

Have you played with Stardock's Fences yet? Talk Back and Let Me Know.