3D desktop simulator

Create the effect of a real desk with this free but bloated download.

Real Desktop from Schillergames is a free desktop application that simulates a three-dimensional desktop resembling the top of an actual desk. You can customize everything from the intensity of the colors and lighting to the direction of the shadows; even configure them for a specific time of day. While the effect is interesting, the freeware's limited features limit its usefulness.

Real Desktop's download attempts to install a variety of "extras," such as Facemoods, a search aid, a toolbar, and something called PageShots Pro. Read each screen carefully and deselect the agreements to install these dubious "extras" if you prefer to keep them out of your system. We also chose the Custom installation option, which let us uncheck PageShots Pro from the installation wizard. We found frequent popup ads for other products, too, as we used Real Desktop. The desktop itself somewhat resembles looking down at a science project in a box, with our icons arranged on the floor. Clicking any icon opened its target normally. Part of Real Desktop's supposed appeal is that the icons behave like real objects, and they do, but that's also part of the problem. For instance, dragging an icon from the right side knocks all the other icons out of the way, but they don't restore themselves in the freeware version, not even with the usual Windows command or when we exited Real Desktop and started it again; they just lie there in a pile. Dragging them back into place proved awkward. The Mini Tutorial did an adequate job explaining the program's controls and operation, but we found the program's basic operation a bit clunky and unintuitive. The plethora of adware, toolbars, and other junk raised eyebrows; we simply deleted the Faceboard feature when it began displaying random faces on our cubicle's back wall. We accessed Real Desktop's tabbed settings dialog via its system tray icon; these offered many options for customizing Real Desktop's look as well as multimonitor support, languages, and startup settings. We were able to tone down the program's aggressive style and colors to an acceptable level.

Real Desktop's free version has significant limitations over "Pro" version, mainly related to arranging the icons, which would seem to be crucial to any such tool and hardly gives a proper preview of its functionality. However, the free version still offers a lot (a lot too much for some) and lets users try it themselves.

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