Desktop topper

Improve the Windows desktop interface with this extensive suite of power tools and system toys.

Winstep Xtreme is a customizable Windows interface suite that combines enhanced functionality and attractive effects with a wide variety of widgets, utilities, task managers, and power tools, all designed to work together seamlessly. It bundles the NeXuS Ultimate dock system; WorkShelf, a versatile tabbed dock; NextStart, an enhanced system taskbar; Winstep Start Menu Organizer; FontBrowser; and more. Not to mention a wide variety of desktop widgets such as weather monitors, system meters, and time/date displays.

We opened Winstep Xtreme, and first to appear was NextStart, a skinnable, totally customizable taskbar replacement that basically lets you park anything you want on it, in groups, with widgets. This was followed shortly by the associated WorkShelf, which expands to a console of docked items, including tasks, utilities such as FontBrowser and Start Menu Organizer, system tools, and even a fish called Wanda that dispenses advice and pithy quotes. Xtreme also installed floating desktop widgets for local weather, a CPU meter, and an attractive combined analog/digital clock display. At the center top of the desktop appeared the NeXuS Ultimate dock, a series of docking icons that you can customize to provide quick access to your most needed programs and files, from programs to media players to family pictures and everything in between, too. Winstep might just provide more settings and options for configuring and customizing Xtreme's various parts than any similar tool or suite we've seen. We were able to change the size, color, effects, behavior, function, performance, sounds, themes, and much more, yet everything was surprisingly easy to configure since the right-click context menus access all needed controls and settings. It's not difficult to configure advanced settings, either. The displays, widgets, skins, effects, and other visual settings were all compatible with Windows Aero themes and the Windows 7 Superbar, too, and were quite attractive, ranging from subtle to jazzy and even entertaining, such as the small but realistic explosion that demolishes items when you remove them from the dock.

Winstep Xtreme has still more features than we can describe, such as the Tasklist on the WorkShelf and an Advanced Time Report Client. It's worth the time and effort to customize Winstep Xtreme to suit your needs, since the end result is a much better desktop.

Editors' note: This is a review of the full version of Winstep Xtreme 10.9. The trial version is limited to 30 days.

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