Nucleus is a desktop application that brings a universal menu bar to Windows. Although, still in active development and available as an alpha release, Nucleus carries a host of features from the menu bars of some popular operating systems like Mac OS X and Ubuntu Linux, successfully bringing them to Windows. If you haven’t worked on such an OS before, the menu bar, unlike the Taskbar in Windows, displays a horizontal bar at the top of the screen, from where you can perform different system-related tasks.
Nucleus is a portable application, therefore you don’t need to install it on your system. Simply download the ZIP archive from the link provided below, extract the included files and run the program. When launched, it adds a small menu bar at the top, sporting a really nice dark gray theme. When it comes to the size, this bar’s thickness is roughly 2/3rd of that of the Taskbar. To the left, there are three menus; the one that has your user name as its label allows you to close active applications with a single click. You can also instantly access your libraries folders including videos, pictures and audio from here.
To the far left of the bar is the main menu, from where you can exit Nucleus, reset its layout, restart or shutdown the computer, and open the Settings panel. Nucleus also supports real-time notifications for Gmail accounts and displays them near the Terminal to the right when a new email is received. This features brings Gmail notifications right to your desktop, eliminating the need to constantly open your inbox to check new emails or rely on other apps, browser add-ons or extensions for the purpose.
Speaking of the Terminal window, it’s probably one of the best features of the applications. It lets power-users quickly access important Windows features and information via commands to, lets say, stop and start processes, solve math problems, search the internet, launch a website and much more. The math feature is fairly handy for performing basic calculations like addition, subtraction, multiplication etc. without having to launch the calculator app.
Nucleus also supports a number of hotkeys for more flexibility and control. For instance, Win+Shift key opens up the Terminal. Similarly, Shift+Ctrl+ M, V and P launch Music, Videos and Pictures libraries respectively.
The Settings window of Nucleus doesn’t carry a lot of options, other than allowing you to select the language, specify the app’s startup behavior, and configure your Gmail account. You just need to provide your email address and password, and save the preferences.
Despite still being in alpha, Nucleus is pretty nifty for a third-party menu bar. According to the developers, additional features will be added to it later down the road. It works on Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8.