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Date: November 24th, 2003
Article by: Roger (Hardware Reviewer)
Product was donated by: StarDock
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PRODUCT INSTALLATION


Installation is fairly simple. Upon purchasing Object Desktop, you have the option of choosing to download the program or have a CD mailed to you (the latter costs an additional $5).



From the flash splash page, you can choose to install, or visit the Stardock and/or Wincustomize websites.



As you can see, not all of the available components are installed by default. You have to download those once you've finished this install process.



Once you're all done, start up the Component Manager. You can enter in your serial number from there, as well as check for updates. The process is very simple. You can select which components to install, and your subscription is good for a year's worth of updates (although they warn that you may not be able to receive full version updates, but rather only incremental updates - so you cannot go from 3 to 4, however you can go from 3.1 to 3.3).


So now you're ready to dive in. Do know that Object Desktop can be a little overwhelming at first, due to the fact that you are working with so many components. But fear not, I'll take you through the most popular and impressive.

 

PRODUCT FEATURES & WALKTHROUGH


For this review, I'm going to have to bounce through quite a few of the components, so I will not waste a lot of time with idle chit-chat. Likewise, I will not be covering each and every aspect of this product, as this review would exceed a couple dozen pages if I did. I will concentrate my efforts on the main features, and leave the smaller stuff for you to discover on your own.



We'll start with WindowBlinds (WB). Now, as I've mentioned, I have already completed a review of WB as a stand-alone application. The review can be found at; http://tweaknews.net/reviews/wb/. As such, I'll only touch on it briefly.


WB is a fantastic application, whether on its own or as part of Object Desktop. It allows you to skin Windows right down to Command Prompt window, as well as provided extra functionality. As per Stardock's press release, here are some of the new features in WindowBlinds 4:


Skinning of command prompt windows
Enhanced system performance for users utilizing native XP skinning engine due to new graphics acceleration technology named "Smart Painting"
WindowBlinds can now stylize virtually every part of the Windows GUI (e.g. task panes, Control Panel background, logoff dialogs, and more)
Increased capability. WindowBlinds can now work with most non-standard programs
WindowBlinds can now control the size of the Windows start bar
A new configuration program makes switching visual styles easier and faster.


You can access it via your desktop properties window, in the Appearance tab. The first drop down menu (Windows and buttons) allows you to select a skin. You can preview all of the skins from within this tab, and then apply whichever you decide upon. From within the WindowBlinds application, you can also scroll through the skins that are loaded on your system. I found that if you have many skins, the scrolling becomes tedious. A thumbnail preview that is set in multiple rows would have been nice. Your main options (located on the left), allow you to tinker with the selected skin's basic settings. Here, you can select to make use of Hyperpaint.

 

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