The virtual desktop has been realized in windows 95. I mean a true virtual desktop in a proper meaning of the word "virtual", as virtual was used in the past - e.g. virtual memory.
It has the following features which let us call it virtual:
- a desktop size was independent of the current and maximum monitor resolution (provided it was grater)
- a desktop size was independent of the maximum picture size to be generated by the installed graphic card,
- there was possible to change the monitor resolution on the fly with a single keystroke (the desktop size as well, but through the screen properties dialog window, as in each windows)
- there was possible to declare that pop up dialog windows should be opened in the center of the visible desktop part instead of the desktop center,
- the process of panning was endure enough to survive most of application/windows hung-ups.
Since I get acquainted with the VD and recognized its features and usefulness, I simply do not work on systems without the VD. Initially I used it for reading pdf files due to spreading them on greater space make fonts more readable and VD panning always worked much better than window scrolling, and I used it as well for programming in Delphi. Only on big desktop you can see the integrated environment windows and application windows all in front. And even in a case of error and hung-up the VD panning worked.
In windows 98 the VD was forbidden. MS policy was: if one want to have more space he/she has to buy a second monitor. The 98 windows was a two monitor system. I never have heard about VD in w98.
It is possible to have a semiVD in w2k and wxp at least on ati graphic. Semi VD means some limitations. The VD maximum size is limited to the maximum picture size to be generated by the installed graphic card, and there are no windows centering on the visible desktop part or screen resolution change with a single keystroke. The last could be served by dedicated applications.
A semi semi VD is available on other graphics in wxp. Semi semi means further limits, namely, in the VD mode a monitor must work in its maximum resolution. I use such a semisemiVD on my samsung nc10. But I like my desktop, with 1280x1024 CRT monitor more than a yard in front of me, working in 1024x768 since showing extra sharp image, windows working with 2048x1536 size desktop.
If that is true, i.e. no VD in Windows 7, then I newer switch to Windows 7 before the VD in any way becomes available. There is a need to develop the VD driver
against MS policy.