I have been reviewing many free apps for Windows, most of them do fulfil their purpose just right. But there comes a time when you discover a ultra cool app which is rough around the edges but it works so damn well that you just cant wait to show it off and rave about it.
WinLaunch by C0rrupted is one such free tool which does its job, of replicating Launchpad introduced in Mac OS X Lion in Windows, perfectly. By perfect I literally mean perfectly. Amazing animations, loads of customisation while being non intrusive and extremely light on resources are just some of the great things in this nifty tool.
Installation and Setting up : Here comes the clumsy part
This is the only place where I get to blast the app, and I wont spare it. Setting up the app is quite confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it it is really fantastic to say the least. I can see no app launcher as good as WinLaunch atleast for the moment for Windows.
The app currently does not feature any sort of installation, and basically you have to start the app [winlaunch.exe] yourself after extracting the zip folder. When you first launch the app, you are greeted with a well written readme which I recommend to go through well for less hassles. You can begin adding icons by moving the icons from your desktop or start menu to WinLaunch. As the next step, you need to spend some time fiddling with the Icon and Text size, and keys for invoking WinLaunch for a godly experience. Then you must run Winlaunch Starter to start the app automatically everytime you boot into Windows.
Download: WinLaunch for Windows [16.1 MB] x86 and x64
The Amazing WinLaunch
You may feel that I am over excited and raving a lot about the app, but as you check it out yourself, you will find a lot more to like. Here are some super cool things I liked about WinLaunch
- Synaptic Touchpad Gesture Integration : Hell Yeah! Those who thought that Launchpad and the nifty three finger upward swipe to activate Launchpad was limited to those shiny Macs, think again. WinLaunch allows to perfectly replicate this feature on the Windows as well. Even the two finger slide for accessing the multiple pages works so cleanly that you simply cant stop adoring the touchpad integration. On my HP G42 it works flawlessly every single time.
- Multiple Ways to access your WinLaunch: If you are on a desktop, or if you use your three finger gesture for something else, you can always use the multiple hot corners or hot keys to activate the Windows implementation of Launchpad
- Superb Animations : I mean it. The animations are so close to the Mac OS counterpart that you would be easily fooled for once that you were using Lion. Heck , even the famous iOS style jiggle is perfectly implemented in Launchpad. The Fly In and Fly Out work very smoothly, not to mention silky icon movements. The animations are one of the core features that makes WinLaunch such a perfect app launcher for Windows.
- Easy Customisation: WinLaunch offers gut loads of customisation options which even the Mac OS X Launchpad does not offer to an extent. You can go all the way from customising icon sizes, to changing the opacity, modifying the animation speed you name it. Did I tell you that WinLaunch supports creating pages and folders just like iOS including the animations and shelves. This is something which I found was really freaking cool.
- Themes Support : For all the personalization nerds, WinLaunch offers plenty of inbuilt themes to choose with to suite your tastes. Below is the screenshot with the square theme applied.
I am gladly willing to donate and strongly urge you to donate for the development of this program. But there are few annoying issues which I really want to see fixed in order to get a even better app launcher for Windows.
- The App comes in a Zip format and does not have an installer. This is easily a turn off for not so tech-savvy folks. In future iterations an installer would be more than welcome
- I found the settings menu to be pretty cramped as personalization forms an important component of this program. It would be useful if more options could be clubbed in lesser titles. For example the various options for Hotkeys and Hot Corners could come under a single title instead of digging deeper into the options.
- WinLaunch did not start automatically with Windows even though it was claimed to be. Perhaps this is a bug?
- Lastly I found editing the icons quite cumbersome as in I had to hit edit for every Icon individually. It would be great if the developer could provide us some kind of edit mode. Also edit was quite buggy and inconsistent many times
Usage Tips and Conclusion
WinLaunch sadly is not the most idiot friendly launcher to set up initially and use. I personally recommend the following tweaks to enhance your experience with WinLaunch
Initial Configuration : When you start WinLaunch for the first time you need to hit F and add few icons to begin with.
- For fast performance and great looks, you can better go for the Lion Blur in the performance advisor. Though Aero blur was quite fast too, it was not aesthetic enough for me.
- Adding icons from desktop can be a tad frustrating , you can instead add your apps directly from the start menu.
- The default icon size is medium which is tad big for anyone’s taste. Change it to small and you are good to go.
- Hot Corners can get in your way while using other apps, better option is to go for synaptic gestures in case if you are on a laptop , or hot keys if you are on a desktop.
Overall WinLaunch perfectly mimics the Mac OS X Launchpad behaviour for your Windows desktop without burdening your CPU or GPU. WinLaunch can easily be the perfect desktop icons replacement you were looking for. The developer of this app has been tremendously successful in mimicking the behaviour of Launchpad on Windows with such a light program. You will never even realise the fact that the app is still in its early beta stages. A must have for those who wish to have a beautiful desktop.
You may be interested in checking out our post on How To Download Apple Mac OS X Theme on Windows 7.