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An 'Optimal' View of Windows

A new software release aims to give users a better view of Windows.

The most recent remodel of Microsoft's operating system interface came with the 2001 release of Windows XP. But neither it nor the aging Internet Explorer browser have a way to handle the proliferating kinds of Web content, such as RSS feeds. Meanwhile users' desktops are littered with shortcuts.

To help users organize and find files, Optimal Access plans to release Optimal Desktop 4.0, a "shortcut management and navigation tool" that provides a total redesign of the Windows interface and adds support for RSS reading and XML publishing.

"The idea is to make it easier for users to get to their information quickly," said CEO Karan Bavandi. "It could be files or folders, your favorite Web pages, and now also your feeds."

Optimal Desktop is not a desktop search tool; it integrates Google Desktop Search to enable users to search files from within its application. Instead, it provides the functions of a file explorer, Web browser and RSS reader into a single program.

Instead of the proliferating lists of files and folders that more and more people rely on desktop search tools to sort through, Optimal Desktop 4.0 aims to make it easier to find without seeking. It organizes shortcuts to files and applications inside tabs, using a filing cabinet metaphor.

To handle the hundreds of RSS feeds many Internet users subscribe to, Optimal Desktop stores their headlines in the application, where they can be searched without the need for a standalone or browser-based reader. When one is clicked, it also opens within Optimal Desktop. Users also can quickly publish their lists of feeds or headlines with the software.

"You can pretty quickly end up managing 100 or 200 feeds," Bavandi said. "Being able to find organize and share them becomes a very big deal."

While Windows organizes information in "trees," and Web browsing is linear, "Nobody works that way any more," Bavandi said. "Instead, we give you the ability to bookmark the pages and build your own personal portal."

Optimal Access plans to release the 4.0 version next week in four versions. Both the standard and professional versions can be purchased with or without mobile access.

The mobile version lets users carry their personal portals with them.

"You can install it on a USB or removable drive, so you can take all your customization and feeds and navigation with you," Bavandi said. "It becomes a familiar place for you to go find the stuff you need."