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Microsoft Updates PowerToys

Microsoft Corp. this week released an updated version of PowerToys for Windows XP.

PowerToys are small applets and applications that expand the capabilities of the Windows operating system, and Microsoft has made various PowerToys available for every major new release of Windows since Windows 95.

The latest PowerToys for Windows XP fixes many of the bugs in the original batch, though some PowerToys were also cut. This time around, Microsoft did not include a unified installer, meaning Windows users will have to download each of the 10 files -- which range in size from 514 KB to 717 KB -- separately.

The PowerToys include:

  • Open Command Windows Here, which adds an "Open Command Window Here" context menu option on file system folders, giving users a quick way to open a command window pointing at the selected folder;
  • Alt-Tab Replacement, which enhances the Alt-Tab functionality by allowing users to see a preview of a page in addition to seeing the icon of applications they are switching to;
  • TweakUI, which gives users access to system settings that are not exposed in the Windows XP default user interface, including mouse settings, Explorer settings, taskbar settings, etc.;
  • Power Calculator, which provides a graphing calculator;
  • Image Resizer, which allows users to resize one or many image files with a right-click;
  • CD Slide Show Generator, which allows users to view images burned to a CD as a slide show and also allows users to create slide shows which can be viewed on Windows 9x machines;
  • Virtual Desktop Manager, which allows users to manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar;
  • Taskbar Magnifier, to magnify part of the screen from the taskbar;
  • HTML Slide Show Wizard, for creating HTML slide shows to place on Web sites;
  • Webcam Timershot, which lets users take pictures from Webcams at specified time intervals.

The new PowerToys include the Taskbar Magnifier, the two slide show generators, the Virtual Desktop Manager and the Webcam Timershot. Discontinued PowerToys include IE Find Toolbar and Shell Audio Player.

The PowerToys are available for download here. Microsoft said that while it has taken care to make sure the PowerToys operate as they should, they are not part of Windows and are not supported by Microsoft. The company also noted that old PowerToys must be uninstalled before the new ones are installed.