Featured Freeware: 360desktop

Interested in "unlimited desktop space" and the ability to save any part of the Web to your desktop? 360desktop makes good on some intriguing promises, even though it's still in beta.

The public beta of 360desktop makes some intriguing promises. "Unlimited desktop space" is one, and the capability to save any part of the Web directly to your desktop is another.

Surprisingly, there's a lot more than screensaver snake-oil here. When you run 360desktop, you get a panoramic desktop with custom widgets. Quit, and you're back to basic Windows. Switching between the two didn't cause problems when tested, although quitting 360desktop completely required killing the process a few times.

A persistent "QuickNav" area in the upper-right side of your screen lets you scroll or drag your mouse to move around by push your mouse to the screen edge. The help guide suggests that arrow key navigation works, too, although it didn't for us. A handy Windows taskbar icon offers a context menu that lets you customize options such as scrolling speed, starting it with Windows, how 360desktop focuses multiwindow applications, and whether the location of running applications and widgets appear in the QuickNav.

Web widgets are simple to install and work well. Click "Add a widget" in the QuickNav and you'll see a bare-bones dialog with two tabs--Web Widget or Embed Code Widget. The first lets you enter a widget name and a URL, while the second lets you enter a name and a snippet of HTML code. A special 360desktop toolbar appears next a new widget from which you can drag-and-drop the widget, close it, or click the "i" button for more information.

360desktop runs like any of your other Windows programs and doesn't seem to affect any critical system files, although it does place a shortcut on your regular Windows desktop without asking. It's not essential software, but if you've got the RAM to handle it, 360desktop can be a lot of fun. Be sure to create a System Restore point in case it blows up your Windows installation--it's not a beta for nothing.