[actualtools.com] Actual Window Manager 5.5 beta 4 is out!

Actual Tools
Actual Tools

Season's greetings, John Smith!

It appears to become regular: each 20 days we release a new beta version. However, this is supposed to be the last beta-related newsletter for the version 5.5 - the just released Actual Window Manager 5.5 beta 4 is planned to become the last beta release before the final version is out. It's another service release targeted more on fixing various bugs than on introducing new features; nevertheless, there is a feature which I'm glad to finally announce - the online updates checker! Of course, one might say that such function should present since the very first version - I say that it's better late than never.

Download Actual Window Manager 5.5 beta 4!

In this issue:


In-built checking for updates online is a standard basic function in any modern software suite, and finally it's available in Actual Tools! From now, you can easily check if there are any new versions without visiting our website on your own: you can either tell our program to request the information about updates automatically with the scheduled time interval (daily/weekly/monthly) or run the check process manually. All this can be set up in the General Options property sheet, as shown below:

How to schedule automatic Actual Tools updates checking

Hope these options are pretty straightforward and self-explained. Also, you can launch the check process from the context menu of Actual Window Manager tray icon:

How to check for Actual Tools updates manually

Just a single obvious note: you should have the Internet connection alive for the Updates Checker to function successfully.
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Usually I write about bugfixes in short but one of them made in this beta is so important that I'd like to mention it separately: now the Multi-monitor Taskbar works stable on x64 platform. No more crashes and system instability because of graphics resources exhaustion! It was quite a tricky bug taken more than 2 weeks of our time to hunt it down and at least figure out what happens. Thanks to the selfless help of our beta tester Martyn Kenyon (he tested 4 different debug versions - with no success, and at the end kindly let us log into his system remotely to catch the bug on the crime scene!) the bug was caught and fixed. Ave, Martyn! You have helped not us but all users of Windows x64 multi-monitor systems, and your fairly deserved free lifetime license for Actual Window Manager awaits you at the next major upgrade!
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Although the list of Actual Window Manager hotkeys is already big enough, we regularly receive requests to add more hotkeys for some popular functions. This beta introduces the following new key combinations:

  • <Ctrl+Alt+Num-> / <Ctrl+Alt+Num+> - to suspend/resume Actual Window Manager, respectively;
  • <Ctrl+Shift+S> / <Ctrl+Shift+R> - to save/restore the desktop icons order, respectively;
  • <Win+Shift+/> - to move a window to the previous monitor in a multi-monitor environment (it's the pair to the well-known Move to next monitor hotkey - Win+/ by default).

Please note that all these key combinations (except the last) are disabled by default so that one couldn't activate them accidentally. You can enable these new hotkeys and customize their key combinations in the Hotkeys Options property sheet.
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Before the 1st beta of Actual Window Manager 5.5 our programs run their executable files from the installation folder: this is common practice suitable for most applications. However, our programs are special system utilities working at the low system level and embedding their advanced functions into other programs. Those advanced functions are implemented in a runtime library (aimemb.dll) loaded by each running program. Sometimes particular applications may lock this library even after unloading our utility and prevent library's update (e.g. when installing a new version) without rebooting the PC.

That's why in 5.5 beta 1 we tried to improve this situation and changed the way which the program uses its runtime library in: now, each time Actual Window Manager starts, the library is copied from the installation folder to the user profile's %Temp% folder and run from there. With such approach, even if the library becomes locked - its copy in the installation folder will remain free and can be easily overwritten. But this medal has a reverse: some security suites strictly prohibit running any executable code from the %Temp% folder (because this is common practice for computer viruses!). To resolve this dilemma between security and convenience, we decided to let the end user choose what he/she prefers and added the following option in the General Options property sheet:

How to force Actual Tools programs run the library from the installation folder

By default this option is turned off but if you encounter any troubles with your security software and don't want (or can't - because of corporate policy) let Actual Window Manager run the library from the %Temp% folder - mark this check box and reload AWM (not stop/start but exit/launch).
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As this beta is another service release with many bugfixes and improvements, I continue keeping them divided them into two separate sections (as I did in the previous newsletter). As usual, improvements first:

  • the Aero Snap mode now supports the horizontal maximization: just drag the left or right window border towards the corresponding monitor boundary to make window exactly fit monitor's width;
    How to maximize a window horizontally using the Aero Snap

  • the ability to stretch the Start button out to the multiline Taskbar in old visual themes, like Windows Classic or XP Blue/Green/Silver, has been added (such stretched button is much easier to hit);
    How to stretch the Start button out to the multiline taskbar in old visual themes
    Start button stretched in the XP Blue visual theme

  • the new Crop to fit option for the wallpaper position has been added;
    How to crop the wallpaper picture and fit it to desktop

  • the ability to minimize all windows on a particular monitor via secondary taskbar's context menu has been added;
    How to minimize all windows on a particular monitor

  • the ability to turn off automatic switching of virtual desktops has been added;
    How to turn off automatic switching of virtual desktops

  • the CPU load when using the Multi-monitor Taskbar extension with the notification area displayed has been decreased;

  • if the classic window snapping is enabled, you can control it on the fly for a particular window via window's system menu.
    How to toggle the Classic Window Snapping on the fly
    How to adjust Classic Window Snapping options on the fly

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Next - the bugfixes:

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At the end of this issue, I'd like to ask for your kind help in a matter which is though not directly related to program's reliability but affects the overall product quality nevertheless - the spelling of messages in the user interface. If you found a mistake, a typo, an unclear/misleading phrase or term - please let me know! This request especially applies to bilingual speakers whose native language is other than English: please report me about any inconsistencies you may notice in your native language's translation and offer the correct spelling. Also, it would be very nice of you to let me know if you have a better wording for any phrase/statement or can suggest a more clear/understandable/widespread term for notions used in Actual Tools products (this applies to the English localization too - we are not native English speakers so that we may make grammar or semantic mistakes, and it would be great if you help us correct them!). Consider the grammar mistakes and unclear terms as the worst bugs which must be exterminated without remorse!
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If you are interested in downloading and testing Actual Window Manager 5.5 beta 4 then let me tell you the terms and conditions of our beta testing:

  • Beta versions have an expiration date which they can't be used after.

    The beta 4 of Actual Window Manager 5.5 expires on January 15, 2010.

  • When the beta version expires you should either

    • roll back to the last stable release,
    • update your beta to a new one (if available),
    • or upgrade to a new stable release (if available).

    You can check the status of beta version and see how many days remain until the beta expiration in the About dialog.

Although we make internal testing of our programs regularly but we can't verify all possible combinations of software and hardware environments so that our beta versions surely may contain bugs. That's why we include into our beta versions the internal error reporting service: if some fatal error occurs in Actual Window Manager, you will see the special query asking you to send us the error report - please don't hesitate and click Yes! This report contains no private information whereas the error description may be invaluable for us. Many thanks in advance for your co-operation!


That's all, thank you for your time! Waiting for any kind of feedback from you (especially - for spell reports! ) at our Beta Testing forum section - you are always welcome!

Yours sincerely,

Alex Fadeyev,
Actual Tools

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