MadAppLauncher is a free and simple launcher that gets out of your way when not needed. It strives to minimize mouse clicks when launching not only programs but files and folders too.
Other than using its File menu MadAppLauncher supports dragging and dropping anything (files, folders, programs, shortcuts, etc.) into squares to create a launch space. Its interface is divided into 10 tabs numbered one to 10 each with 30 spaces with their own letter or symbol. To launch any of the shortcuts start MadAppLauncher, either using the tray icon or by using a hotkey (assigned in the Settings menu) then click the number to activate the corresponding tab and then the letter (or symbol) assigned to the shortcut to launch it.
MadAppLauncher can stay open when working to add shortcuts but go into auto hide mode when in actual use. Another useful feature in its settings is the option to auto activate tabs by hovering the mouse over the tab numbers, this is probably most useful because it may be difficult to remember which tab contains which shortcut and it is a welcome feature to be able to more easily navigate tabs.
A more advanced feature is the ability to create what MadAppLauncher calls cascading groups. By creating a configuration file one can open any number of programs, files or folders at the same time. A somewhat incomplete but useful explanation is given on the author’s site. Don’t forget to save any current (*.mal file created by using the File menu’s save option) setup before proceeding to create another series of shortcuts or a cascading group. MadAppLauncher is also hosted on sourceforge but I was not able to find its source files. It requires Windows XP at a minimum and is in early stages of development, however it works well.