When I switched to using Windows 7 for development purposes, I missed some of the comforts my trusty old Linux install had offered me. I was using XFCE (and before that, ion3) and depended on workspaces and mouse focusing among other things. Here is how I got them to work on Windows 7:
- Go get VirtuaWin which gives you a familiar workspace layout. It can be a bit stuttery, but it is fairly stable and very configurable.
- Run regedit (Win-R -> regedit)
- Change HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Mouse\ActiveWindowTracking to 1.
- Edit HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\UserPreferencesMask which should be a REG_BINARY string: something like 9e 3e 07 … Take the first byte of this string and change it to 9f. To be more precise, take the first byte and bit-wise or it with 0x1 – i.e. set the lowest bit on that byte. You should now have 9f 3e 07 …
- This enables mouse focusing but you definitely want a small delay between hovering over a window and it receiving focus. This is essential for tasks like using contexts menus from the start bar because the pop-up elements are not exactly adjacent to the start menu – they have a minor gap separating them. If you don’t have a focus delay, the moment you move your move away from a start bar icon to use the menu, the window underneath the menu would receive focus and the pop-up menu would get dismissed.
- To change the focus delay, edit HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\ActiveWndTrkTimeout which should be a REG_DWORD to the number of milliseconds to pause before giving focus. 0x80 (128 ms) works quite well. Note the name ActiveWndTrkTimeout. Make sure you have not made a spelling error. You may already have an existing entry for ActiveWndTrackTimeout. If you do, rename that entry to use the correct spelling.
- Close out your programs, log out and log back in. Your changes will have taken effect. Enjoy a more Tuxy Windows machine.