Windows App Launchers: Microsoft Too Joins the Race now

Keyboard App Launchers are amazing little applications. They calmly wait in the background, peacefully keeping an eye on your movements. As soon as you hit the magical global keystroke combination, they reveal themselves and then quickly bring you the application that you intended to use? Awesome, isn’t it?

Keyboard App Launchers are those software that let you launch your favorite (or any) programs on your computer without even making use of your mouse or clicking anything. They are a great way to launch any application quickly in the blink of an eye. Application launchers have been around for a long time now, with QuilSilver for Mac leading the race. Almost all other similar programs have inspired highly from QuickSilver. Sure, it is not just a launcher, but at the core of the application is this only feature.

Until yesterday, Launchy and Executor for Windows were the most popular application launching softwares available for the widely used Operating System. Apparently, Microsoft has finally woken up and the team from Microsoft Office Labs have now released an early edition of their own application launcher called ‘Speed Launch’.

Although it is a great little application from the labs, it still has a long way to go. It is a lot less polished and still lacks many a features. For starters, the software lacks the most important trait of a App Launcher – It fails to loose focus automatically, after you’re done with it. the only way, yet, to close the program is to hit the ‘X’ at the top right. Not at all ideal, since this would obviously require the user to use his mouse.

Another most important feature, that this software lacks is the auto-indexing of the programs. One needs to manually drag the application to the ‘target’ for Speed Launch to remember it. Again, not something you’d expect from a App Launcher. Also, even though it doesn’t automatically index, it is a huge resource hogger, eating up upto 30MB of your precious RAM when it is idle.

On the positive site, Speed Launch has a few buttons on the bottom that let you do the corresponding action – like searching Wikipedia. Note that this is just an experimental project from the guys at Office Labs. So expect a lot more from them soon.

Till then, let’s take a look at the other launchers available for Windows.

Executor:

This programs wins all the points and all my praises for being the most configurable app launcher available for Windows.

Executor lets you launch not just programs, but you can even type out the URL and launch the URL in your default browser. The program remembers the browser history, so instead of going into the browser, manually searching through the history and then launching the URL, you can simply activate Executor, type a few characters and be on your way.

One of my favorite feature of Executor, as noted by DS, is its ability to set Global Shortcut Keys for applications or files. Imagine the ability to launch MSPaint (Paintbrush) by just Ctrl+P or launching your favorite mp3 song with your shortcut. There’s a long list of features and a bunch of screenshots available on the developers site.

Launchy:

Although not as configurable as Executor, this programs takes all the points for being the most popular launcher of the lot. Featuring almost the same feature-set as executor, launchy has been around longer than Executor. It is a free software available at http://www.launchy.net

Why use Launchers?

Launchers are a great way to cut down on your wasted time and increase your productivity. By auto-indexing your program list, these apps let you launch your application in seconds and let you finish off your work in minutes. Most of the launchers have a small memory footprint and hide calmly in the background, without interfering in your work. Of course, once a user starts using them, he will only become more accustomed to them.

What’s your take?

One Response to “Windows App Launchers: Microsoft Too Joins the Race now”

  1. Jason
    August 21, 2008 at 5:10 am #

    I think the best application of this kind is Dash Command ( http://trydash.com ). It is just much more polished than the rest, plus it is faster, has more features and can do more with less effort. It is a commercial app (which could explain why it is better), but if you can afford it, get it.

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