Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 19:21 UTC, submitted by draginol
Graphics, User Interfaces Developer Stardock has released WindowBlinds 6 today. It is a utility that allows users to customize the look and feel of Windows by applying "skins" to change the user interface of the OS. WindowBlinds 6 can make Windows XP look virtually identical to Windows Vista (including blurred glass). Thanks to hardware acceleration, a typical XP system dressed to look like Vista will perform faster than Vista still. WindowBlinds 6 also adds full skinning support to Windows Vista, making it the first and only program to support full Windows Vista customization. CNet takes a quick look at this new release.
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cool....
by borker on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 19:46 UTC
borker
Member since:
2006-04-04

now if you just pull half the RAM and underclock the CPU you can have the full 'Vista experience' without paying for a new OS license ;)

Reply Score: 18

RE: cool....
by donut on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 19:51 UTC in reply to "cool...."
donut Member since:
2006-05-06

don't forget running Bioshock in the back ground as well maxed to the eye balls.....!

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: cool....
by Joe User on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 21:24 UTC in reply to "cool...."
Joe User Member since:
2005-06-29

Is there a way to skin Vista so that it looks like XP?

Reply Score: 1

RE: cool....
by OddFox on Thu 4th Oct 2007 01:23 UTC in reply to "cool...."
OddFox Member since:
2005-10-05

You know, if you'd actually bother to try a patched Vista with decent, recent drivers, you'd find that your cheap shot at Vista is pretty off-base.

http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/amd_nvidia_windows_vista_driver...

A lot of the complaints I see about Vista are pretty dated, launch-era problems, especially the idea that OpenGL apps are completely b0rked. The fact of the matter is that Microsoft never made much of an effort to support OpenGL with the drivers shipped with Windows, that has always been the responsibility of the hardware manufacturers providing the drivers so you can get an OpenGL ICD that works.

For me, I notice a 2-5% performance difference between XP and Vista usually in my games, but the underpinnings of the new platform are good enough that I don't care much, and it will become even less of an issue after I upgrade my CPU from the 3000+ A64 I have right now, the lowest-rated component of my system according to Vista.

P.S. - I find using VLC and WinAMP help a lot with avoiding the cpu usage incurred from WMP11 in Vista, which seems to be caused by the protected media path.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: cool....
by borker on Thu 4th Oct 2007 18:35 UTC in reply to "RE: cool...."
borker Member since:
2006-04-04

so when you upgrade your hardware and find alternative programs to the ones that come with the OS, it works acceptably? Yup, my cheap shot was way off line.

The funny thing is, my post was just a quick joke; your post does more to paint vista in a bad light whilst defending it than my little poke did, by far.

Reply Score: 2

But Why?
by tuaris on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 19:55 UTC
tuaris
Member since:
2007-08-05

Why would anyone want their computer to look like Windows Vista?

Reply Score: 7

RE: But Why?
by Obscurus on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 04:51 UTC in reply to "But Why?"
Obscurus Member since:
2006-04-20

Well, I quite prefer the appearance of Vista over XP (particularly the window buttons), although I dial the transparency on the window bars right back and make the dark grey, as I find the defaults annoying. I think the UI is one thing MS got right with Vista. I couldn't be bothered skinning XP to look like Vista though - I use the Royale style on my XP box, as I find the default Luna theme quite offensive to my eyes.

Reply Score: 3

Never understood...
by rikostan on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 19:56 UTC
rikostan
Member since:
2007-02-24

I have never understood why anybody would want to run something like this on top of Explorer. Why not use one of the myriad of alternative shells that replace explorer rather than waste even more resources by running on top of it?

Reply Score: 6

RE: Never understood...
by sappyvcv on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 20:09 UTC in reply to "Never understood..."
sappyvcv Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't think you understand what WindowBlinds is..

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Never understood...
by rikostan on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 20:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Never understood..."
rikostan Member since:
2007-02-24

I understand I can accomplish most of the same functionality using different .msstyles and a shell like Litestep.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Never understood...
by sappyvcv on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 20:57 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Never understood..."
sappyvcv Member since:
2005-07-06

WindowBlinds isn't a shell. Also, using .msstyles requires a dll hack (uxtheme.dll). As well, XP styles can't do alpha-transparency or effects like blurring.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Never understood...
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 21:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Never understood..."
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Has Litestep gotten easier to install and use?

I remember it being a bear to back in 98-99.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Never understood...
by rikostan on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 21:42 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Never understood..."
rikostan Member since:
2007-02-24

Obviously it isn't a shell... which is my point.

Flatland_spider, not to get to far off the topic, but yes Litestep has a simple installer and more config tools now, no more editing files by hand, unless you want too.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Never understood...
by sappyvcv on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 12:13 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Never understood..."
sappyvcv Member since:
2005-07-06

It not being a shell is your point? Then why are you suggesting replacing EXPLORER (a shell) with an alternative shell? WindowBlinds has nothing to do with shells!

Reply Score: 2

pg--az Member since:
2006-03-15

That sounds frightening, but interesting !
What is your favorite, or top three favorites, from the "myriad" ?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Never understood...
by bornagainenguin on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 04:31 UTC in reply to "Never understood..."
bornagainenguin Member since:
2005-08-07

Maybe because Stardock either bought out many of the freeware \ shareware shell enhancement utilities and converted them ALL to run on top the explorer shell and stopped any development in that area? Maybe because (due to various factors) the shell scene lost most of the non-Stardock related shell news sites and the shell replacements were allowed to wither away?

Sorry, this isn't meant as an attack on you, I recently went through some of my favorite shell replacements to give 'em a try out on XP before wiping only to discover very little remains of the once vibrant community. Litstep hasn't seen any major releases in years, the various other shells seem to have all disappeared or gone payware (with the correspondingly thin theme support that renders)...

[SIGH] And on top of all of that this is STARDOCK we're talking about here.... I'll never forgive them for buying up MacVision and then removing all hopes of it being a shell replacement. Objectbar is nice enough mind you--and if I was to drop any money on a shell enhancemnt it'd be for ObjectBar! --but it is no longer capable of running as a shell, like the old MacVision could way back in the day*....

--bornagainpenguin

*back in the day means on Win9x OSes, as Win2000 was released shortly after MacVision was purchased and the port to WinNT 5.x has never to my knowledge been able to run as shell, if you try you'll bork the system. Don't, I know from experience...

EDIT-- fixed my / (what has OSNews.com got against the backslash anyway??)

Edited 2007-10-03 04:37

Reply Score: 2

RE: Never understood...
by Laurence on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 11:22 UTC in reply to "Never understood..."
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

"I have never understood why anybody would want to run something like this on top of Explorer. Why not use one of the myriad of alternative shells that replace explorer rather than waste even more resources by running on top of it?"


I never understood why people wanted to goto so much trouble replacing the windows shells either. If you don't like windows interface, then don't use windows. It's not as if Windows is a solid core with a poor window manager bolted on top. (quite the opposite in fact - Windows as an interface isn't too shabby. It's the user accounts / security, system stability and speed (etc) that let their side down)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Never understood...
by siride on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 12:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Never understood..."
siride Member since:
2006-01-02

I think you have it backwards. The NT kernel is quite competent, probably better designed and implemented than Linux, which grew organically without much direction and forethought. It's the lack of security that Explorer peddles that is the problem. Nobody in userland really enforces security in Windows (at least pre-Vista). So all of the ACLs and fancy mechanism that the kernel supports and the core userspace stuff implements, is just washed away by the time you get to the actual user interface.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Never understood...
by Laurence on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 13:40 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Never understood..."
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

tbh I think that's a weak defence as regardless of the Window manager running in Linux (for example) a user is locked into their permission settings (exluding those with the root password obviously).

I don't really want to get into a flame-war though as i'm far from a Linux zelot and I don't exactly hate Windows either (though I hate Vista). I just don't particularly rate the home desktop editions of Windows.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Never understood...
by Dave_K on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 22:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Never understood..."
Dave_K Member since:
2005-11-16

I never understood why people wanted to goto so much trouble replacing the windows shells either. If you don't like windows interface, then don't use windows.


Many people, myself included, use Windows because of its selection of applications. Since most of the time I'm interacting with applications, they outweight any advantages offered by other OSes.

Personally I think that Windows Explorer is probably one of the weakest parts of the OS. It's not so bad that it would convince me to use another OS, or even make me go to a lot of effort to change it, but I can see why other people would.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Never understood...
by Laurence on Thu 4th Oct 2007 11:22 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Never understood..."
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

I think the 'selection of applciations' argument is a bit of a moot point these days as there's almost always a FOSS or even closed source binary available for most *nix set ups these days and those applications that don't have a *nix counter part can often be run using Wine.

As for Windows Explorer - i was talking more about the solid interface as a whole (the taskbar, desktop, window managers and widgets). Windows often feels sturdier than some other desktops (i know in reality this isn't the case).

Reply Score: 2

Had it once.
by systyrant on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 19:56 UTC
systyrant
Member since:
2007-01-18

I had WindowBlinds at one time (version 4 I believe) and I thought it was pretty darn cool, but aside from aesthetics it didn't really offer any valuable functionality to Windows for me.

I try to streamline Windows as much as possible. I want to devote as many resources as possible to applications (in my case 3D and music). While I'm sure WindowBlinds isn't a resource killer, to me it's just fluff.

However, I still think it's pretty cool.

Reply Score: 8

RE: Had it once.
by Valhalla on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 20:32 UTC in reply to "Had it once."
Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24

systyrant wrote:
-"I try to streamline Windows as much as possible. I want to devote as many resources as possible to applications (in my case 3D and music). While I'm sure WindowBlinds isn't a resource killer, to me it's just fluff. "

pretty much in the same boat (3d, video encoding, compression), that said I think customizing your desktop can be a great personal creative outlet for people and I totally grok that. I've definately enjoyed watching all those great looking themes over at customize.org, inspiring stuff.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Had it once.
by cmost on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 20:34 UTC in reply to "RE: Had it once."
cmost Member since:
2006-07-16

If it runs on Server 2003, then essentially YES you do get the newer kernel as well as much better performance. Server 2003 as a workstation runs circles around Vista and XP while offering myriad of advanced features.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Had it once.
by Ventajou on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 01:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Had it once."
Ventajou Member since:
2006-10-31

Any science to support that comment? benchmarks or anything?

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Had it once.
by cmost on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 03:14 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Had it once."
cmost Member since:
2006-07-16

I don't have any benchmarks of my own but I can state with confidence that it's definitely a faster experience than with pure XP. There are others who have done benchmarks and their opinions seem to concur. OSnews itself did an article not long ago. Here's a link http://www.osnews.com/story.php/3655/Windows-Server-2003-as-a-Works...

Reply Score: 1

RE: Had it once.
by Obscurus on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 04:59 UTC in reply to "Had it once."
Obscurus Member since:
2006-04-20

I also had Windowblinds installed for a while, but I found myself wasting a lot of time and bandwidth downloading and trying new themes. I uninstalled it and learned to just accept the limited set of official signed MS styles, and now spend my time getting actual work done.

Well, I still waste a lot of time posting on nerdy websites like OS News, but one thing at a time ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Had it once.
by Laurence on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 11:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Had it once."
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

"I also had Windowblinds installed for a while, but I found myself wasting a lot of time and bandwidth downloading and trying new themes. I uninstalled it and learned to just accept the limited set of official signed MS styles, and now spend my time getting actual work done.
"

agreed. I've never really been a big fan of skinning (though I love the theme i've created for KDE) but it's always made more sense to me than those who spend hours case modding ;-)

Reply Score: 3

Nice, but...
by jbauer on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 20:09 UTC
jbauer
Member since:
2005-07-06

...will it give me hardware desktop compositing? Because that is what I find relevant about Vista's Aero, not the transparencies or the pretty look.

Reply Score: 3

WindowBlinds 6 on XP
by draginol on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 20:21 UTC
draginol
Member since:
2006-05-20

WindowBlinds 6 does a form of compositing on Windows XP. If you turn on Hyperpaint, the desktop gets cached onto the video card resulting in even faster performance.

WindowBlinds 6 should be faster than even classic on Windows XP (let alone "Luna") and use less memory than running the standard Windows XP style (Luna).

On Windows Vista, it's hard to gauge the memory difference since it's all handled by the DWM but it's as fast or faster than Aero on Vista and uses as much or less memory than it.

Reply Score: 7

kernel
by _LH_ on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 20:31 UTC
_LH_
Member since:
2005-07-20

But do you get the newer kernel on xp?

Reply Score: 3

RE: kernel
by wirespot on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 20:49 UTC in reply to "kernel"
wirespot Member since:
2006-06-21

But do you really want it? 'Cause the jury (ie. the public) is still out on that one.

Reply Score: 2

RE: kernel
by Redeeman on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 10:25 UTC in reply to "kernel"
Redeeman Member since:
2006-03-23

ahh, mean the ultra ressource wasting and limiting DRM system, combined with less pheripheral support than DOS? in that case, it would be a no.

Reply Score: 0

Recomend for XP users
by ssa2204 on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 20:40 UTC
ssa2204
Member since:
2006-04-22

I always liked Windows Blinds, going back to Win2k. It was kind of nice to change after awhile of seeing the same theme. There are some really creative themes out there. For the past 2 years running XP I used just one theme that I found to be a perfect fit. Alongside other programs such as LogonXP and BootMenu I had a look and feel that was a perfect fit for what I was looking for.

I never saw that Windows Blinds and other components were necessarily a performance hit, but then again I always had a fair amount of memory (1.5GB +). I could see where 512MB would take a hit, but then again at 512MB Notepad will take a hit ;)

With that said, something I found somewhat strange is for a while I have had some of the similar Vista Aero effects in XP thanks to features added in to my Nvidea card (Glass effect specifically). Thing is I found this by accident, and it seems that there are a lot of Nvidia/XP owners do not even know about this...strange.

Several sites that may be of interest to anyone unfamiliar with Windwos Blinds:

http://customize.org/
http://www.wincustomize.com
http://www.skinbase.org

Reply Score: 3

Vista support
by Dave_K on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 21:19 UTC
Dave_K
Member since:
2005-11-16

Interesting that it supports Vista; I wonder how many people want to add even more eye-candy to their Vista desktop?

Personally I used Aero for a day then turned it back to the classic Windows 2K look. Not as impressive, but definitely more functional and less distracting.

Having said that, maybe running this would speed up the Vista UI a bit. Even without all the eye-candy it's pretty slow on an older PC with onboard graphics. Basic things like moving, resizing and scrolling windows lacks the smoothness of 2K/XP running on the same system. On a Athlon 64 3200+ Vista feels like XP running on my old 400Mhz PII Celeron. Applications (and other operating systems) run as fast as I'd expect on the Athlon, so it isn't a problem with the system.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Vista support
by grat on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 22:23 UTC in reply to "Vista support"
grat Member since:
2006-02-02

On a Athlon 64 3200+ Vista feels like XP running on my old 400Mhz PII Celeron.

There is a serious problem with your graphics drivers-- either that, or you're still using the same video card you used on your 400mhz PII celeron.

I'm hard pressed to tell the difference in UI performance between XP ("Classic" theme) and Vista (with Aero), running NVidia Geforce 7600.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Vista support
by google_ninja on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 22:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Vista support"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

The funny thing is if you turn off all the effects, I find that things seem choppier and less responsive, especially the more cpu intensive tasks like window resizing. They probably arent, but they seem that way.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Vista support
by steampoweredlawn on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 19:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Vista support"
steampoweredlawn Member since:
2006-09-27

The funny thing is if you turn off all the effects, I find that things seem choppier and less responsive, especially the more cpu intensive tasks like window resizing. They probably arent, but they seem that way.


They actually probably are. Desktop compositing offloads the window drawing functions to your GPU and video memory, instead of making the CPU do it. My PCLOS desktop "feels" snappier with Beryl running, even though Beryl actually uses more resources than vanilla KDE 3.5.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Vista support
by Dave_K on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 23:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Vista support"
Dave_K Member since:
2005-11-16

There is a serious problem with your graphics drivers-- either that, or you're still using the same video card you used on your 400mhz PII celeron.


Games seem to work as well as I'd expect on its onboard Nivida 6100 graphics. Personally I don't see why even the Matrox Millenium PCI card I used in my Celeron would have trouble with things like resizing windows. As I said, I've turned off all the effects that I'd expect to require fast graphics hardware.

This kind of thing shouldn't be performance intensive and taxing for relatively modern hardware. Despite its 25Mhz CPU and primitive graphics, my old Acorn A5000 could resize windows pretty smoothly over 15 years ago.

Reply Score: 4

Impressive on Vista
by google_ninja on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 22:10 UTC
google_ninja
Member since:
2006-02-05

Just installed the demo version on vista home premium, and i am quite impressed. The animation on the "Molten" really show what is possible with this themeing engine, I really havnt seen anything like it before.

I like Aero alot, but I can definately see someone with a subtle touch using this to come up with something I like better (while Molten is really impressive, i would claw my eyes out if i had to use it every day)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Impressive on Vista
by stestagg on Tue 2nd Oct 2007 22:41 UTC in reply to "Impressive on Vista"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

Yeah, molten is pretty cool. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a WB designer with 'a subtle touch'. There are a few nice Plain Visual Styles out there, but all the WindowBlinds skins that I've come across are big, ugly, and annoying. Still, I wait in hope ;) .

Reply Score: 3

Sigh...
by 1c3d0g on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 00:14 UTC
1c3d0g
Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah, I admit it, I once wasted my hard-earned cash on this POS software, but this was when I was young and dumb. Never again will I ever buy such a useless piece of software again.

Reply Score: 2

Mini-review ...
by MacTO on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 02:58 UTC
MacTO
Member since:
2006-09-21

I have Object Desktop, and have used WindowBlinds a fair bit. There are a couple of stunning themes that make Windows something that you'd want to look at, rather than something that just blends into the background. I also had it running on a dual card system (Radeon 9200/AGP and Matrox Millennium II/PCI). It ran fairly well on both cards, but there was a 1.67 GHz CPU backing it.

That being said, there are issues. Though I think that these issues say more about XP than they say about Stardock's efforts. Having Object Desktop means that I can try out a lot of their eye candy. Unfortunately, DesktopFX and WindowBlinds 6 cannot be used together and to their full extent on some systems. (If I recall correctly, the Radeon 9200 was an issue -- but the integrated video on my Mac mini allowed me to use all of the features!) I was also getting plenty of video glitches with per pixel rendering turned on, which is how you get the full deal for eye candy.

Like I said though, I think that says more about Windows than it says about WindowBlinds. I say that because, overall, WindowBlinds is a nice product and it is producing a few effects that are similar to what I see on Mac OS X and current Linux distributions. It offers a bit more stuff in some areas, and a bit less in other areas. The thing is, these effects just work in Mac OS X and the fancier stuff that you in Linux just works better (no conflicts, for example). So if eye candy is your thing and if you can find the software that you need to do your work or play on Linux or a Mac, maybe you should just use Linux or a Mac.

Reply Score: 2

Good in what it does
by Darkelve on Wed 3rd Oct 2007 05:57 UTC
Darkelve
Member since:
2006-02-06

This is actually one of the few things that can make an XP install (more) interesting. It has got some lovely themes too, personally I really love the Acrylic Blue theme.

Reply Score: 2