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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)



Finally, OD 2007 includes Theme Manager. This is a small, handy program that allows you to change your entire desktop suite with a couple of clicks, rather than changing each skin individually.


On the utility side, OD 2007 includes a half-dozen or so useful programs.


Object Zip is a file-compression program, which functions much like WinZip or WinRar, and handles all of the popular compression formats. Aside from being included with OD, it's also faster and easier to use.


Object Edit is a Notepad replacement, with a few added features. Most notable is the file size, which is much larger than what Notepad can handle. For PHP and HTML coders, Object Edit also numbers the lines of text, making debugging a troublesome app much easier.


Virtual Desktops is similar to the familiar Linux application, but it supports up to 25 virtual desktops! That's a whole lot of real estate to play around with.


The final few programs are small, and functional. Tab Launchpad allows you to separate running apps into a tabbed interface for easier navigation, RightClick allows you to add more functions to your standard Windows Right Click menu, Keyboard Launchpad is a quick and easy macro creator, Object Sweeper is a more powerful version of the Windows Disk Cleanup. And finally, Component Tray is a Taskbar program that allows easy access to all of the installed OD 2007 programs.


Whew! That's a lot of programs for the money!


Stardock also has a few other free or demo products that are separate from OD 2007, including a mouse pointer skinning program, bootskin changer, and LogonStudio, which changes your logon screen.


Along with the program, you receive a 1-year subscription to Stardock Central. Over the course of the year, you receive all upgrades to OD 2007 at no charge. This even goes so far as to include any new programs that are added during that year.


You also receive a matching 1-year subscription to Stardock's official skinning website, at www.wincustomize.com . Along with literally thousands of skins for all of the OD programs, a friendly and helpful forum is available. Tech support is never more than a few mouse clicks away.


And, just to sweeten the pie, if you ever experience a hard drive crash, Stardock archives the applications you have purchased, even after your subscription has run out.


Stardock has also continued to work closely with Microsoft, ensuring that OD 2007 will be completely compatible with Vista . When you upgrade to the new OS, you can be assured that your OD programs will work, without any tweaking or fiddling.


For those who don't want the whole program suite, Stardock offers the main programs as individual downloads. The price is higher, though. Separate purchases of WindowBlinds and DesktopX alone nearly equal the cost of the whole suite. For all that Stardock throws in with the full OD2007 package, it's well worth buying the whole thing.


Object Desktop 2007 isn't without its faults.


As with any program, OD 2007 has a few quirks. Aside from Windowblinds, many of the applications require manual configuration. While you can download a cool, pre-built DesktopX theme, the likelihood of all the shortcuts working is slim. Fortunately, changing or adding shortcuts is a simple process, much like editing a shortcut in Windows.


And, as skinning has become more popular, some mainstream programs come with their own skinning function. WinDVD, for example, has trouble displaying video when Windowblinds is active. This, again, is an easy fix. Within Windowblinds, you can set “program exceptions” at various levels. This will prevent skinning of that particular program. This, however, is not an OD problem. Stardock designed OD 2007 to work seamlessly with the Windows API, while the programs that have troubles with Windowblinds deviate from the Windows standard. I have found these programs to be far and few between, though.


And, as any desktop modification program, it does use CPU cycles even when not visible. I do recommend turning your OD 2007 programs off while playing a hardware-intensive game or working in Photoshop.

 

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