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Cairo Shell Alternatives for Windows

There are many alternatives to Cairo Shell for Windows if you are looking for a replacement. The best Windows alternative is Files, which is both free and Open Source. If that doesn't suit you, our users have ranked more than 25 alternatives to Cairo Shell and 19 are available for Windows so hopefully you can find a suitable replacement. Other interesting Windows alternatives to Cairo Shell are VirtuaWin, ModernFlyouts, BB4Win and SharpEnviro.

Cairo Shell alternatives are mainly Desktop Environments but may also be Window Managers or File Managers. Filter by these if you want a narrower list of alternatives or looking for a specific functionality of Cairo Shell.
This page was last updated Jun 15, 2022
  • FreeOpen Source
  • Windows

Cairo is a desktop environment for Windows. Its goal is to develop a desktop experience that increases productivity and...

Learn more about Cairo Shell

  1. Files is a file manager which leverages the latest features of the Windows platform including Fluent Design, seamless updates, and APIs which enable the performance and lifecycle behavior that users expect.

    Files vs Cairo Shell opinions
    pros, cons and recent comments

    Files UWP merely replaces the file browser, not the full explorer shell like Cairo.

    Negative comment over 1 year ago
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    1
  2. VirtuaWin

    • FreeOpen Source
    • Windows
    • PortableApps.com

    VirtuaWin is a virtual desktop manager for the Windows operating system (Win9x/ME/NT/Win2K/XP/Win2003/Vista/Win7/Win10). A virtual desktop manager lets you organize applications over several virtual desktops (also called ‘workspaces’).



  3. ModernFlyouts

    • FreeOpen Source
    • Windows
    • Windows S

    This application aims to provide a Fluent Design System based replacement for the old, built-in, Metro Design based Audio/Airplane mode/Brightness flyouts present in Windows (which haven't been updated since Windows 8 LOL) which are shown while pressing the media or volume...

  4. BB4Win

    • FreeOpen Source
    • Windows

    BB4Win (Blackbox for Windows) is an alternative shell for Microsoft Windows. The program aims to emulate the look and feel of a Linux based desktop. The BB4Win project was discontinued in 2005 but various branches have been built from the source.

    Discontinued

    Latest release 2009, see http://bb4win.sourceforge.net/

  5. SharpEnviro

    • FreeOpen Source
    • Windows

    SharpEnviro (or SharpE) is an open source shell replacement system for Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. When using SharpEnviro the default Windows desktop is replaced by a new and more powerful desktop environment.

    Discontinued

    As of december 2011 the SharpEnviro project is no longer under active development. All files provided come without any warranty or support! It is uncertain if or how well the previously released versions of SharpEnviro will work with any new or updated Windows system after Windows 7 Service Pack 1.



  6. NERD tree

    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Vim

    The NERDTree is a file system explorer for the Vim editor. Using this plugin, users can visually browse complex directory hierarchies, quickly open files for reading or editing, and perform basic file system operations.

    NERD tree vs Cairo Shell opinions
    pros, cons and recent comments
    slippycheeze

    NERD tree has absolutely nothing to do with desktop window management, and should never have been listed as an alternative.

    Negative comment 11 days ago
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    XanderDT

    this does not stand alone, rather sits inside Vim; and is a file manager, not a shell

    Negative comment 2 months ago
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  7. bbLean

    • FreeOpen Source
    • Windows

    bbLean is the lean version of Blackbox for Windows. It tries to keep balance between features and complexity, to give you some efficient means within a compact shell.

    Discontinued

    The project is no longer developed. Last version, 1.17.1, released in May 2009, can be still downloaded from the official website.

  8. bug.n

    • FreeOpen Source
    • Windows

    bug.n is a tiling window manager add-on for Microsoft Windows. It is written in the scripting language AutoHotkey.

    No screenshots yet
  9. Emerge Desktop

    • FreeOpen Source
    • Windows

    Emerge Desktop is a replacement Windows "shell" (the desktop environment normally provided by Windows Explorer) for Windows 2000 and above.

    Discontinued

    Emerge Desktop is no longer maintained. Last version, 6.1.3, released in 2012, and the source code are still available on SourceForge

  10. Window Maker

    • FreeOpen Source
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • BSD

    Window Maker has a reputation for being fast, efficient and highly stable. Window Maker has been characterized as reproducing "the elegant look and feel of the NeXTstep GUI" and is noted as "easy to configure and easy to use.

Showing 10 of 19 alternatives