Starting with Windows 95, and every release since then, Microsoft has furnished a collection of useful software widgets that they call PowerToys. These tools apparently represent potential operating system components that didn't make it into the final release (or updates) of the operating system itself, but are judged useful enough to share with the public.
As you'll learn here, the Web is littered with various versions of Windows PowerToys that go all the way back to their original release in 1995. In fact, you'll encounter some code later on in this story that was written in 1996, yet still works with modern Windows operating systems including Windows XP. This is an interesting testimonial to the enduring common code legacy in Windows operating systems. Even though much, if not most, of the code base has changed when comparing Windows 95 vis-à-vis Windows XP (Home or Professional), at least some of these PowerToys continue to work.
Proceed with Caution!
Any readme.txt file, or other documentation you might encounter with Windows PowerToys includes disclaimers to the effect that Microsoft does not support this code. The plain English translation of these disclaimers might be most succinctly stated as "Use at your own risk."
I hasten to add that I'm using the SendtoX PowerToy I discuss in this article on an everyday basis on Windows XP and have yet to experience problems, strange symptoms, or Registry difficulties that might indicate that it's causing problems with my system. In addition, this PowerToy has worked for me on every version of Windows I've ever tried it on, which explains why it's been part of my post-install customization routine since my Windows 95 days. Nevertheless, you'll want to consider carefully whether or not any potential productivity gains you might enjoy from using the SendtoX PowerToy is worth potential problems with your Windows system.
In fact, as I write this article Microsoft has pulled all of its original downloads from the Windows XP PowerToys Web page. Although this material was available for download from October 25 (the original XP release date) through the end of 2001, what you'll find there now is a message dated 1/31/2002. It reads as follows: "PowerToys will not be available today as previously stated here. We're sorry, because we know you like them a lot. PowerToys are currently being improved, and will be available for download in April 2002."
For more information (or to check for the pending update to the Windows XP PowerToys), add this URL to your favorites list: www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/downloads/powertoys.asp. You'll find it worth an occasional visit. Microsoft's not kidding when they say users "like them a lot" PowerToys are often among their most popular downloads overall. And with over 10 million copies of Windows XP in use, there will be plenty of demand for these new official PowerToys for Windows XP once they become available.
Editor's Note: Microsoft's PowerToys for Windows XP are once again available, although sadly there is no equivalent to SendtoX available.