The basic way to easily switch between applications, besides using the mouse to click on task bar icons, is the alt-tab key. However, that key is almost totally useless when there are more than 3 windows opened. On Windows 7, I was using Virtuawin to solve this. That allows to group windows into workspaces similar to desktops offered by Ubuntu. Virtuawin works on Windows 8, but it has more issues that makes its use annoying for me. First, it looses track of windows in focus and sometimes ordering on each desktop. Because of that, when switching to the desktop with, say, Emacs, to the one with Firefox, keyboard stops working from time to time, until I figure out that no window is in focus and press alt-tab. Pressing alt-tab conservatively after each desktop switch will not work around, because when the window is in focus, alt-tab switches to something else. Having one window per desktop doesn't work around as well, because Windows "cleverly" includes the desktop as one alternative to alt-tab. Virtuawin also offers from time to time, randomly, without any clear rule, to close itself when I close several windows with alt-f4. I thought that this behavior would happen when Virtuawin was the only window on screen, but no, it can happen even when other windows are present.
I tried two different alternatives with even worse results. Switcher, which would at least act as an alt-tab replacement, just doesn't load at startup and doesn't retain its settings. The default shortcut key, Windows-`, is really bad for because I have a canadian french keyboard. WindowsPager, the second one I tried and which seemed to work, causes non-working keyboard or annoying beeps on EACH desktop switch! Moreover, WindowsPager has absolutely no installer, just useless instructions telling to put a symbolic link on the autostart to load it at startup. But Windows does NOT support symbolic links! Searching for a solution on Google only gives download links for the applications, seems I am the only one stupid enough to try these applications on Windows 8. I also tried VistaSwitch a while ago, but it just adds confusion by imposing a different keyboard shortcut to start it, displays window names in a random order forcing me to look at each window the same way as it happens when maintaining alt-tab. In summary, it works for 2-3 windows, but for more, it will take me from 30 to 45 seconds to find the target window, each time I do a switch.
Is there any way to switch between multiple running windows other than clicking on the task bar icons or using alt-tab until I get lucky and fall on the right window? At least, is it possible to remove the desktop from the possible targets of alt-tab? Even something that would bind shortcut keys to running applications would help.
Thanks for any idea.