Create Launch Docks With ObjectDock Plus

($20, buy-only) is Stardock's free on steroids. A launch dock clone of the Mac OS X dock for XP, Vista, and Windows 7, Plus 2, unlike said free version, allows you to create as many docks as you want. This desktop utility allows you to hide the Windows taskbar, so it's a replacement, not an add-on. And you don't lose the Start menu, which is the first icon on both the free and Plus ObjectDocks. ObjectDock Plus didn't suffer the lag time for the Start Menu to appear that the free version suffered in XP.

With ObjectDock Plus 2, you can create multiple docks that you may place at any edge of the screen, and hide if you don't need them. This allows you to create docks for specific work scenarios, such as playing and editing music, bookkeeping, etc. You may also show and hide any number of items on any dock including applications, running windows, minimized windows, and even icons in the system tray. In the latter case, the icons were very low-resolution and spoiled the good looks so I left them off. You can swap out an icon by pressing and holding the mouse button over any icon, but it's generally a tedious procedure.

ObjectDock Plus 2 is also highly configurable, though it's a bit tricky to find the options. Hint: Click the blue text next to any current setting and a tweaking panel will open at the bottom. You may change the size of the icons, the size of the magnification effect (icons expand as you mouse over them), as well as the size of the magnification bubble (several icons generally zoom at once).

The program worked great for me, with one exception. ObjectDock Plus previewed its own settings dialog in the wrong part of the screen-within the actual settings dialog-not directly over the icon in its preview bubble. Oh, did I mention that ObjectDock Plus 2 adds the cool Windows 7 window preview function to XP? It does. Unfortunately, the docked folders function that allows you to access frequently accessed folders directly from the dock works only on Windows 7.

Color me impressed. ObjectDock Plus 2 combines the best of OS X's and Windows launch features into one interface. The free version, ObjectDock, allows only one dock and is missing several features such as tabbed docks, and the aforementioned docked folders, but is still well worth the download. However, it may prove so addictive that you'll want to buy ObjectDock Plus.