SAN FRANCISCO (07/07/2000) - Let's face it: Your Windows desktop is nothing special. Sure, you can dress it up with colorful wallpaper and background designs. You can even paste your favorite pictures in the background. But there's no getting around it--your desktop is, well, flat.
Why not turn it into a three-dimensional world with Win3D, an application recently unveiled by ClockWise Technologies Ltd.
Available now in beta form, ClockWise Win3D is a free applet that's quick to download and install on Windows 95 and 98 desktops. It's not just a way to access your work files and applications; Win3D makes you feel like you're playing a game.
When you launch the program, you find yourself in a virtual room, which resembles a hallway with a floor, walls, and doors. Instead of a ceiling, you can see a blue sky with a few fair-weather clouds. The sky is bright, but the rest of the interface has mostly dark, drab colors, such as brown, dark green, and gray.
The hallway features doors to the different zones available to you: Internet, Office, Multimedia, and Games. It also features what looks like a circular trap door in the floor, labeled "Recent Documents." When you click on it, the top slides off and a list of the documents you have viewed recently rises up out of the ground.
A control panel in the bottom center of your screen lets you navigate between the available zones. This panel lists the name of each zone, which you can click to enter. You also have the option of "walking" through the interface by clicking the Move button. You control your movements with your mouse, which is a little difficult to get used to. In fact, after using Win3D several times, I still can't seem to move smoothly through the rooms. I've even gotten a headache and a queasy stomach from trying to navigate--and I don't get motion sickness easily.
The Office zone allows you to access your office applications, files, and folders. It features default shortcuts to applications and locations on your computer that you are likely to access, such as Microsoft Word and the My Documents folder. You can add, delete, or rename these. A virtual filing cabinet features links to files and folders (such as your C: drive, your Windows folder, and your desktop), and another set of drawers offers links to applications you choose. The center of the office contains a desk--yes, even a virtual office comes with a desk--with shortcuts to applications you use most frequently.
The Internet zone features three areas: one with links to shopping sites; one with news information, including headlines, weather forecasts, and stock quotes; and one with bookmarks to favorite sites. You can launch your browser from this zone, and you can access a free Win3D e-mail account. All of the content can be personalized.
ClockWise Win3D allows you access to all the same files, folders, and applications as you would from your regular desktop--just in a more interesting shell. And while it gives you a new point of view on your computer, getting accustomed to it takes a lot of time, and, perhaps, a lot of Dramamine.