While most uses of the term ‘virtual desktop’ to refer to server-side VDI virtualization, there is another usage of the term. Most graphics cards in modern PCs aren’t pushed to anywhere near their limit by day-to-day use: they can frequently render many times the number of pixels on a screen that the associated hardware actually supports.
‘Virtual desktop’ software can also refer to software that coaxes your graphics card in to running a ‘virtual’ screen at a resolution much higher than your screen can support. You can map around this screen via the use of scrollbars, or mouse gestures. Your ‘window’ on to the screen is termed the ‘viewport’ – much like any given browser will offer a ‘viewport’ on to content.
This article will take a look at two of the main offerings for running a ‘virtual desktop’ in this manner. It’s a little-known field, but doubtless there are some individuals whose workflow could really benefit from that extra screen real estate.
Googling for ‘InfiniteScreen’ yields as its top link a fairly rushed webpage with links to downloading the program itself. The program has a similarly rushed feel – much of the English has a ‘translated’ feel to it. However, it was relatively easy to configure and boot in to my virtualized screen. Navigation was pretty swift and my computer didn’t baulk at the extra graphical strain I was requesting of it.
The main downside I can see for InfiniteScreen is the lack of community support. As an independent project, the developer has included his personal e-mail address for feedback ‘if you like it’, but there are no associated forums to help you if you run in to trouble. And, knowing the rocky ground that is graphics driver technology, trouble is bound to happen for some users. So bear in mind the lack of support. If you can move beyond that and the slightly odd English, you’re quids in – InfiniteScreen is free to download and use.
If InfiniteScreen’s linguistic pliability was set at maximum, it’s difficult to know what to think of BigScreen. The main download portal is offered through the company’s professional website and by a slightly more legitimate entity than offers InfiniteScreen, but that comes with caveats.
For one, the ‘Professional’ version is chargeable. While it offered mild benefits in scroll speed and responsiveness – assumedly down to the ‘hardware optimisation’ the company claims to have built in to the program – such benefits weren’t anywhere near enough to influence me to buy the software itself. For the minimal improvements, I’d rather stick with the free product.
So, there we have it. A little-known use of the term ‘virtual desktop’, but doubtless one that could help you to manage your windows on a tiny screen. Give them a try, and let me know what you think!