The Windows desktop is a great place to work, when you're running two or three programs. Launch 10, 20, maybe 30, and life becomes rather more difficult. Application windows clutter the screen, taskbar buttons are tiny, even Alt+Tab becomes awkward to use.
Fortunately, it doesn't have to be this way. Install ScreenTabs and the program will equip your system with two extra virtual desktops, giving you three in total. Each one gives you a fresh start - an empty taskbar, no visible application windows - and switching between them is as easy as clicking a tab on the left side of your screen.
While this gives you more space, it does also introduce a few complications. In particular, you can't simply look at the taskbar to see whether a program is running: it might be on another desktop.
ScreenTabs does its best to help, though. Right-click a tab and a pane appears listing the running applications in each tab. Double-clicking whatever you need will switch to that desktop and program. Alternatively, right-clicking an application and selecting "On all tabs" will display it on all desktops.
This all worked well for us, but if you need more then there are plenty of configuration options. Tabs can be renamed, given a new colour, have a custom transparency, made to automatically hide, perhaps be selected with a customisable hotkey: whatever works best for you.
Please note, this is the free version of ScreenTabs. Upgrading to the full version will get you extra functionality, in particular the ability to create as many tabs as you like (not just three). It's yours from $17.95.
ScreenTabs is an easy-to-use and effective virtual desktop tool. It would also benefit from some documentation (the program has a few settings we didn't fully understand), but this isn't a major issue: the core functions just work, and you'll be using it productively right away.