Date: October 27th, 2006
Article by: Mike Carter (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: StarDock
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PRODUCT INSTALLATION AND TESTING (cont'd)
Obviously, the biggest parts of OD are the skinning options. Of these, WindowBlinds is the oldest, and best-known of the programs. WindowBlinds 5 is a major upgrade to the previous versions, in several aspects. Aside from being faster than previous versions, it also now includes per-pixel blending. What this allows is a glass-like effect, making windows, taskbars, and titlebars semi-transparent. Want the upcoming Vista Glass look now? WindowBlinds can do that for you.
DesktopX is the second program in the suite to receive a major upgrade. Unlike WindowBlinds, which simply changes the “skin” of Windows, DesktopX is a free-form shell replacement. Everything is replaceable and customizable. Want to make your PC resemble a Mac so closely even Steve Jobs would be fooled? Easily done. Or would you like a desktop that completely emulates the USS Enterprise's 24 th century interface? No problem. The possibilities are just about endless.
You've probably seen DesktopX in action, without even knowing it. The program is used by many major movie and TV studios to create those “futuristic" graphical interfaces seen in numerous mainstream movies.
Aside from the graphical goodness, though, DesktopX can perform a similar function to the XP “logoff” setting. Say you're a gamer, your wife works from home, and you have a toddler that likes to play on the computer? You can build one desktop for yourself, which will show only the games you like to play, a second desktop with a business-like appearance which caters to your wife's job, and a third desktop which is colorful, with large icons, but most importantly, prevents your toddler from accessing anything other than the few programs you want him to use.
While skins are readily available in just about any color or scheme a novice could hope for, Stardock also includes Skin Studio Professional as part of the OD package. This is a powerful, WYSIWYG interface which allows you to create your own skins with a minimal learning curve.
Now, I'll go briefly over the rest of the suite.
On the skinning side, OD 2007 includes IconX, which allows you to add various effects to your desktop icons. I have mine set to be semi-transparent when not in use, then grow to double-size when moused over.
IconPackager allows you to quickly change the look of your entire Windows Explorer icons, to match your favorite theme. Rather than other programs that just change the base icons like IE, Recycle Bin, and My Computer, IconPackager changes every single icon in your system to the style you choose.
Hand-in-hand with IconPackager is Icon Developer, which allows you easily create your own system icons.
Object Dock is a Mac-like dock interface, which you can customize with handy shortcuts to your most frequently used programs. The program now includes a tabbed interface, so it can act more like a full Start Menu replacement.
WindowFX is a small, nifty program that adds animation, shadows, and various other effects to open windows. For example, rather than just minimizing when you click the minimize button, you can have the window shrink, move off to the side, or flip out of sight using various effects. Open windows, when dragged, can wave like a flag in the breeze. It's also possible to have the windows minimize to a tiny picture of the open window, so you can still see the contents.
Object Bar is a Start menu replacement, which you can not only skin to your heart's content, but also allows you to customize what's visible, and where.
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