If you have tried out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, you will no doubt have discovered the Win + X keyboard shortcut that enables you to very quickly access helpful features of Windows such as the Control Panel, Task Manager, Device Manager and more. WinPlusX is a free utility that brings much the same option to all versions of Windows, albeit in a somewhat more customisable form. The program can be installed in XP, Vista and Windows 7, and in many way is preferable to the Windows 8 feature.
The utility can be activated by either pressing the same Windows key + X shortcut, or by right clicking the Start button. Unlike the Windows 8 menu, which could be described as functional but dull, WinPlusX is adorned with icons. These not only help to make the menu look slightly more attractive, but they also help with at-a-glance identification of the available options.
The menu can be cutsomized by hiding any shortcuts you are not interesting in, so if there are Windows’ tools you do not use can be removed, helping to make the menu smaller and more manageable. There is also the option of editing the menu to include new shortcuts of your own, which means that you can use it as a personal launching utility as well.
WinPlusX is a portable app that does not need to be installed, so you can copy it onto a USB drive so you can use it on any computer you use. It would be nice if it was possible to change the default shortcut that is used to activate the menu as Windows and X is already used to access the Mobility Center. This minor niggle aside, this is a useful utility that can make day to day computing faster and easier.
A simple replica of a handy new feature of Windows 8 – to be welcomed by all power users