Dashboard for Windows 1.0. (enhancement for Windows operating system) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Mike Hudnall
It's compact, neat, convenient, and fast. In fact, I like Dashboard so well that I regularly use it in place of Windows' own standard Program Manager.
Like the dashboard in today's high-tech cars, this Windows utility presents an impressive collection of highly visible gauges and easily accessible controls. The resource gauge, for example, resembles an analog fuel gauge and allows you to monitor your Windows system resources. The memory meter below it looks like an odometer and lets you monitor available system memory. If you run too low on resources or memory, a gas-pump icon blinks to alert you.
In Dashboard's printer manager, you choose from available printers by clicking on a printer's icon button; a light at the bottom of the button shows the default printer or, if you have a fax board, the fax software to which you "print." To print or fax a file with ease, just drag and drop it from Windows' File Manager to the appropriate icon.
Forget double-clicking when you use the Quick Launch buttons. A single click launches your most-used apps, identified by icons and, with enough room, the names of the programs. To launch less-used apps, click on one of the group buttons in the Program menu bar; when the group window pops up, click on the app you want.
You also have buttons for the System menu (like the one in Windows), the Task menu (to switch, run, and close programs), and the Layout menu (to create, edit, or load Dashboard layouts). The Dashboard panel also has a help button, a customize button, a minimize button, a maximize button, and a button that lets you hide or show the Program menu.
The Dashboard clock (digital or analog and available in several versions) lets you set the date, the time, and alarms. And Dashboard's mini program windows visually represent what you have on a particular screen. If you dislike the clutter on a screen with a program running, an uncluttered screen to the left or the right can be just a click away.
Don't let its compactness fool you: Dashboard is highly customizable and offers much more depth of utility than meets the eye. If you enjoy using wallpaper to add variety to Windows computing, you'll love the way Dashboard takes no more room than necessary. Most important, however, Dashboard steers you through Windows with minimal clutter and maximum speed and efficiency.