One of my favorite features in Windows 7 has to be the redesigned Taskbar. The entire user experience is so smooth, and I think they really went down the right path with it. At work I’m stuck on XP, and I went looking for a way that I could get a lot of the same functionality as what Windows 7 offers.

That’s when I came across the free ViGlance. It’s a rather lightweight app (uses about 10MB of memory when running) that simulates the Windows 7 Taskbar. What I like is that it doesn’t replace the entire Taskbar in XP. Instead it replaces just the portion where the Taskbar buttons normally reside, and leaves the System Tray, Quick Launch, and other native sections untouched.

Here are some of the features:

  • Pin your favorite applications so that they serve as a shortcut when they aren’t running.
  • Hovering or clicking on an icon with multiple instances running will show thumbnails of each window, and you can then select the one you want. If just one instance of the app is running when you click on the icon it will instead minimize/restore the window depending on the window’s current state.
  • Drag and drop the icons in the order you want them to appear.

I expected this app to be nice, but I figured after using it for a week that I would have kicked it to the curb because of annoyances I would find. Surprisingly the features that are implemented are done pretty well. For example, I was wondering what would happen when someone sent me an instant message… how would ViGlance alert me? In a case like that the icon lights up orange as you can see in the screenshot above.

If you do decide to use this there’s just one thing that I want to give you a heads up about. When I first started using it none of the icons would show up, and I was rather perplexed. After some searching around I was finally able to fix the problem by switching my computer from 16-bit color quality to 32-bit in my display properties. I’m not sure why this prevents the icons from displaying, but it does. Aside from that I’d say it’s becoming a solid app, and a great solution for anyone who’s stuck using XP.

ViGlance Homepage (Windows XP only; Freeware)