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WinStep Nexus and Extreme get “monster” 12.20 update

23 March 2012, Nick Peers

WinStep Software Technologies has updated its flagship products, WinStep Nexus and WinStep Extreme, to version 12.20. Despite the relatively minor version number, WinStep claims this is a “monster release”.

There are numerous new features in both releases, but one major improvement is performance, with WinStep promising vastly increased rendering times, including animated icons (20-30 times faster), resulting in acceptable performance even on slower systems.

WinStep Nexus 12.20, the free Windows dock tool, also promises smooth transition effects when adding, removing or moving items in the dock. There’s a new RainDrop effect that transforms the dock’s surface into liquid, with rain drops falling continuously to a user-defined frequency and a soothing audio effect that can be switched off if not required. Other new effects include Burn, Grayscale and Fireworks attention effects.

WinStep Nexus 12.20 boasts better performance, new effects and other tweaks.

The dock is now capable of reserving screen space across all displays on a multiple-desktop setup, and incompatibilities with some ObjectDock 2 themes have also been fixed. Icon labels can now be tweaked further, with solid color backgrounds and drop shadows supported.

The dock activation key can now be used to toggle showing and hiding of the dock, and docks left always on top can now be hidden behind maximized windows.

The Email Checker widget now supports three major webmail accounts: Hotmail, Yahoo! and Gmail, while the Weather.com feed has also been restored with 14 new weather icons added to provide a more accurate visualization of the weather.

There’s improved support for touchscreens, and a workaround to allow the app to work properly on laptops sporting hybrid Intel/nVidia graphics chipsets.

WinStep Extreme updates
WinStep Extreme 12.20, WinStep’s shareware collection of related desktop customization tools, includes the latest build of WinStep Nexus Dock, but all adds a number of improvements to the other apps in the suite too. The right-click context menus have been improved in both the Shelf and NextSTART to boost organization, functionality and usability – WinStep is keen to highlight the NextSTART component to prospective Windows 8 users frustrated at the loss of the Start menu from the desktop.

The user can now disable the functionality whereby the Shelf is collapsed by clicking the label of the active tab, plus specify the colors of the 3D Frame around the icons in the Shelf itself. There are new customizable “Launch” and “Attention” effects added, while in-Shelf docks can now be configured to expand horizontally as well as vertically. It’s also possible to sort Folder, Documents and Desktop Shelf tabs by name, type, date or size, while the Shelf can now be locked into place on the desktop.

A complete list of changes can be read in the change log.

WinStep Nexus 12.20 is a freeware download for PCs running Windows 2000 or later – a more fully-featured Ultimate version is also available with prices starting from $24.95.

WinStep Extreme 12.20 comes as a free trial download for PCs running Windows 2000 or later – a Basic stripped-down version is available for $29.95, or the fully featured version can be had for $39.95.

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