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PDB Helpdesk: PowerDesk
By Thiravudh Khoman

Re: Nigel Pike's difficulties with Microsoft's NT Explorer (Post Database, April 28, 1999), I'd recommend that he dispense with Windows Explorer altogether and consider a program called "PowerDesk Utilities 98" from a company called Mijenix instead. Come to think of it, it might have been better to keep Internet Explorer (IE) while replacing NT Explorer with PowerDesk. I'll explain why later.

PowerDesk Utilities 98 (figure 1) is a collection of programs that centers around an Explorer-like utility which possesses more functionality than plain Windows Explorer. I began using PowerDesk two years ago for several reasons. First, I wanted to use the exact same file manager regardless of whether I was running Windows 95, 98 or NT. Windows 95a, 95/IE, 98 and NT Explorer are just too different for my tastes. Second, I desperately wanted a "create folder" button on the toolbar since I use it so often, something apparently not possible with plain Explorer. Explorer's way of creating a new folder - "File", "New", "Folder" - takes too many steps and often there is a delay when popping up the windows. Finally, the steps required to format a diskette under Explorer are so awkward that it's difficult to explain it to anyone ("Select drive A: by right-clicking it. Don't left-click it otherwise you'll log in the drive and the formatting won't work").

All of these problems were resolved by using PowerDesk. PowerDesk also comes with a host of other goodies, such as a built-in zip file manager, complete toolbar customization, the ability to view multiple panes without running multiple copies of Explorer, numerous file viewers, folder synchronization, disk space management, etc.

Now, why should reader Pike have kept Internet Explorer (too late now I guess)? Despite the controversy raging over whether Windows can be safely separated from Internet Explorer, I find the point to be moot since I prefer to keep IE around as a back-up browser in any case. I use Netscape as my primary browser, but occasionally Netscape (especially Navigator v4.08) has been known to act quirky and it's useful to have IE handy. A better reason to keep it around is that certain websites are fine-tuned to IE; simply said, IE will run faster - noticeably faster - than Netscape does on those sites.

The latest version of PowerDesk Utilities 98 is v3.03a and can be obtained from https://www.mijenix.com at a price of US$29.95. An evaluation version is available for download (about 2.8mb) free of charge.

Copyright © 1998-2000, Thiravudh Khoman