Home > 3D > Sphere XP: A 3D Desktop Replacement for Windows XP Sphere XP: A 3D Desktop Replacement for Windows XP Eugenia Loli 2004-04-01 3D 48 Comments The SphereXP is a 3D desktop replacement for Microsoft Windows XP (still beta). It offers a new way to organize objects on the desktop. Check the videos and screenshots to get the idea. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 48 Comments 2004-04-01 6:38 pm crashes here on the file marked as “unzip and run”. if i get the CGSL library (even though the other comes with it) and run the install.bat i get a giant red x painted over a white background, where it promptly crashes again. 2004-04-01 6:44 pm do the same as this.. that one stardock program.. but since JDS came along with Looking Glass.. its gotten popular.. or am i kinda off base? (mind you im at work and cant test this.. but i looked at screenshots.. ) 2004-04-01 6:45 pm http://www.stardock.com/products/windowfx/ 2004-04-01 6:49 pm Look at the videos. Its a 3D environment. No products made by Stardock have any similarity to this. 2004-04-01 6:59 pm Just tried the sphereXP … I get this NASTY flickering problem… But to be honest, I’m not sure if the 3D DESKTOP idea is friendly or usuabled.. Its a neat Idea, but I haven’t seen any “usuable/friendly” 3d desktop yet.. 2004-04-01 7:02 pm Stardock just enabled your windows to engage in 3d-animations/transitions… this basically throws your windows in the “background” of a 3D sphere… when you want to look at them, you pull them into view… it’s a pretty old concept (kinda like the 3D-filesystem environment in the Jurassic Park film), but no one’s really ever implemented it in the mainstream…. it’s pretty clear why tho… as this demo illustrates, in its current design, a 3D environment is more cumbersome/cluttered/confusing than having a cluttered taskbar…. in this case, a 2D environment’s simplicity reigns…. Who knows…keep playin with the design, and they’ll figure a way to clean things up….(it’s still only beta)…. 2004-04-01 7:12 pm I have not installed the product in question, but when I viewed all the videos it seems thats the operator has to do a lot of clicking and scrolling just to “Place” and “Move” the app windows through out the Sphere. I for one, don’t mind the clutter on the taskbar,. and by no means does this change the functionality of Windows. Sure you have a nice sphere in the corner of the screen, and later builds would be cool, if you could get a circular wallpaper to cover up the grid line of the sphere. I sure for the benifit of the sphere has to offer, other than another program eating up Ram, and Video resources, why bot just go with Black Box for Windows (http://www.bb4win.org/), or something else. But if the designer is going to make it a full 3D Desktop replacement, vs 1 of 1 million windows add-ons.. The real Question is Why? 2004-04-01 7:16 pm It seems like ideas suhc as “Sphere XP” and “Looking Glass” are for those looking to cut financial cost when considering multiple screen space. Why have 2 monitors when you can cram all your windows on to one with cool looking angled windows?…lol. Sorry but I can’t find any use for this for my career in film or even in the common business sector. Maybe script-kiddies and hackers will like saving on the cost of multiple monitors. Can someone explain to me who would need this eye candy? 2004-04-01 7:32 pm cant get the demo to run, but i have watched half the videos. i am somewhat impressed. actually from what i have seen it works alot like 2d space it is just that in this case the plane is defined as a sphere. of course that isnt new, it is how aviation has been doing it for a long time. i forget what this style of geometry is called. while i dont think the current incarnation is practical, i think these guys might be on to something that could be useful although not practical for normal computing. i am thinking of this combined with goggles and a pair of gloves. its a shame the demo doesnt work, i wonder what dependancies it needs that i dont have. 2004-04-01 7:41 pm Looking at the videos, I see no purpose in this at all aside from being nifty. I wouldn’t describe any 3D desktop environment as useful(yet). Sun’s, MS Research’s, this one, or anything else. nooface.com has a long history of spotlighting 3d desktops and so far in 3 or 4 years,nothing has crossed my path even remotely practical. 3dNA (3dna.net) had some useful concepts, but even then it is largely more work to do work. 2004-04-01 7:44 pm this seems like a very blatant and poorly designed copy. I got it to run, but it ain’t nothing to write home about. Then again, I feel like there are very few interesting things that can be done with a closed source operating system because your product can never be truly integrated in it’s feel and operation. 2004-04-01 7:45 pm While 3D representations are a wonderful idea for a lot of things it really doesn’t make sense for a window/document based environment. Why would we need to apply the “real world” to desktop environments all the time? Why can’t they be a world of their own? There’s a huge difference in the complexity of thinking in layers and thinking in depth and angels. Adding a third dimension to the desktop environment makes it a lot more complex than it needs to be. It doesn’t make things more logical or easier to grasp, it only makes the brain focus on the environment rather than the task you are trying to accomplish. Leave this idea and think harder. 2004-04-01 7:49 pm I like the idea of having all my windows “zoomed-out” so that I can see full smaller versions of each one. Then to work with one, I’d click on it to zoom it back in. Beats having to shuffle through overlapping windows. 2004-04-01 7:50 pm My opinion is that 3D desktops will not be of any real help until you are able to look at it in three dimension. Only then you will be able to fully utilize the third dimension. Until then it will only make you confused because of the extra dimension added to the 2D visualization device the screen is. Well, that is my two cent at least … But it is kind of cool anyhow with 3D desktops. Make me feel like I am in the future 2004-04-01 7:53 pm The problem that I see with all these 3D emvoronments is as follows: You have to use a mouse! Image if in real life you had to use a poking stick to accompish your tasks, you would not be able to be as productive as using both your hands! 3d environments will take off if and only if some sort of ponting device other than a mouse gets invented (like gloves of some sort) and if ad only if that 3D space can be projected on a 3D plane, not a 2D plane like conventional monitors. Fake 3D is nice eye candy, but it’s clutter and not useful. 2004-04-01 7:59 pm When I first watched the videos I thought that it looked like a nicer implementation than looking glass. So I downloaded it to give it a whirl. All I can say is… no. Besides making me dizzy, it provided 0 improvement in workflow efficiency. In fact it greatly hindered my performance. I hope this guy learned a lot of useful things from working on this project, otherwise it seems like quite a waste of time. Sorry. My initial impression of this thread was that people were being too harsh, and I was hoping I’d find something good in it so I could be the nice guy. Ohh well. 2004-04-01 8:05 pm Regarding the mouse in the post above, for CAD there are tools which provide a left-hand device for camera manipulation. It’s like a little cylinder which can be used like a joystick and twisted/spun (I believe). There are versions which are a seperate USB device, and versions which are connected to the keyboard. So far 3d desktops have these advantages: ->Windows can be turned sideways, to take up less window space and still appear on the desktop. ->Larger than monitor workspaces, as in this 3d sphere. ->Windows can be resized (zoomed) more easily. But, shading is like advantage #1, and virtual desktops (and scrollable desktops, though those seem to suck) are like #2. Most people don’t need larger or smaller windows: they’ll just up the resolution or maximize the program. And OS X seems to use resizing effectively in a 2d environment. 3d isn’t very useful yet, but maybe with the CAD “mouse” described above, they will be. 2004-04-01 8:09 pm I have yet to see a more elegant method of managing desktop space for multiple windows than <insert your favorite brand of> virtual desktop manager. 2004-04-01 8:23 pm mini-me: You have to use a mouse! Image if in real life you had to use a poking stick to accompish your tasks, you would not be able to be as productive as using both your hands! 3d environments will take off if and only if some sort of ponting device other than a mouse gets invented (like gloves of some sort) and if ad only if that 3D space can be projected on a 3D plane, not a 2D plane like conventional monitors. Fake 3D is nice eye candy, but it’s clutter and not useful. There are already devices that allow you to use your hands (like gloves) to control things. I know there are at least a few different ones out there, however, I have only fiddled with one “very old” one myself. (The Power Glove for the old NES.) So I’m not sure how good the present technology is. Also there are “3-D monitors”, but I haven’t fiddled with those at all, so I have no idea how good those are. 2004-04-01 8:28 pm There are people who can not see 3D images on a flat area (like paper, or a monitor). I don’t know how many, but I guess this concept will be not useful for them. It’s eyecandy afterall. A better way of organizing “screens” is like on *nix desktopmanagers where you can switch desktops by clicking on an icon in the taskbar for example. In the world of technology, standing still is loosing, so there’s always someone who tries to find new ideas. 2004-04-01 8:28 pm Maybe it’s just the videos haven’t shown it, but this appears to only be a replacement for the taskbar. The user appears to be unable to do anything interactive with the programs while not in normal 2d mode. Notive the user double-clicks (listen carefully, you’ll hear it in the video) before using each program. 2D mode is identical to what we already have (taskbar and all). The one exception is in video 1, the user drags a file between two folders. 2004-04-01 8:38 pm “Can someone explain to me who would need this eye candy?” Yah…that’s kinda the point of candy, meant for the eye or stomach. You don’t need it. It might not even be good for you, but some people like it so they use or eat it. 2004-04-01 9:30 pm When it was called 3D-Desktop http://desk3d.sourceforge.net/ 2004-04-01 10:38 pm maybe it is just me, but from the screen shots, the windows look bent out of shape…i mean…the two opposite sides arent even parallel to each other RayZ 2004-04-01 10:53 pm I mean unless your a Hollywood producer doing some “K3wL l337 |-|4xor” flick (god I HATE that stupid text!) and you need to have a shot of one of those systems that will never exist in the future, I don’t see the point. Seems like a huge waste of cycles, ram and productivity 2004-04-01 11:23 pm Well, if you don’t have a mouse wheel, this program not very useful. 2004-04-01 11:27 pm Maybe they need to give “weight” to that sphere? 2004-04-01 11:33 pm This is FANTASTIC! I end up cluttering my screen with icons over the week. This of course makes it easier to clutter it up even more, but I have a lot more space to work with. 2004-04-02 12:33 am I just played with the demo on one of the computers here and it ran fine (it screwed up a few redraws, but that’s easily forgivable for a beta.. X is routinely forgiven for greater), just wish the windows had been interactive Flame away, but I think this could be a cool idea. I routinely have a metric assload of windows open and this seems like a much nicer way of managing them than alt-tabbing around or switching virtual desktops. 2004-04-02 1:05 am it sucks. but then, it’s free (with a little f), so i haven’t exactly lost anything 2004-04-02 4:57 am isn’t sun doing the same thing? didn’t osnews have an article related to 3d-desktop. looks neato. 2004-04-02 4:59 am not to be rude or anything, but isnt microsoft developing a 3d desktop? why start a project on a windows machine when it will get cut down? I guess there is always reactOS! THAT WOULD BE AWSOME! 2004-04-02 7:37 am I played with it for a few minutes and it’s funny. I think something nice could come out of this, if the guy is persistent enough and don’t feel disencouraged by all the bashing here. Just look how the first mouse looked like… The only thing I didn’t like though (I hope this is what people call “constructive criticism”) is that it can be very tiring to keep the mouse scroll button pressed to move around the sphere, that button is a bit “heavy” (at least on my logitech mouse). If I had to use such an environment for a long time I would end up with “repetitive strain injury” very fast. I would also suggest the author to make that small sphere in the corner of the screen “interactive”, it is easy to make that sphere roll instead of the whole screen..that could make the navigation quite faster. 2004-04-02 7:46 am Microsoft Bob. *shiver* 2004-04-02 7:50 am this program can become a great AND usfull shell for windows to become less cluttered and I have used it with my VR glove and projector, so yeah, if you have the means to make it look good, you can have a great hope of a final version with no bugs and a propor backround picture 2004-04-02 9:58 am i remember first seeing 3d desktops attempts a bit after the big success of id software, with wolfenstain and the 1st doom, and it didn’t worked. there’s a reason, probably… ozon/skim 2004-04-02 1:02 pm In the Doom days 3D technology in video games was even not 3D. Now the technology exists to make a uaeful 3D desktop. Where this guy fails is in that it could never be integrated into a Windows environment. He should have aimed this straight at Linux from the start. He is probably thinking he’s going to sell it to some body though. All in all he wasted his time. 2004-04-02 2:44 pm No value, its just a way to play with the z-order. Its quite misleading when the dude (writer) says its a replacement for Windows XP (Longhorn is the replacement – sorry!!!). 2004-04-02 3:20 pm I got it working yes it is more inefficient than the taskbar. Which is a shame because it looks cool – except the distortion my my desktop wall paper being plastered on a sphere made it a bit scary Winamp didn’t show up in it, and it can only be used instead of the taskbar if you have your windows opened (not minimised). There is some good potential here though! 2004-04-02 4:07 pm they’ve theorised about this sort of interface since the 60s! With a bit of work and the right human (hardware) interface, say a glove or similar, this could be really cool – halfway to that astronomy bit in Star Trek Generations. …watch this space, we’re seeing the future of computer interfaces forming before our very eyes. cool. 2004-04-02 4:56 pm I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels Windows XP is still a beta quality product. 🙂 2004-04-02 6:36 pm z1xq: technically, Doom uses improved 2d raycasting. Doesen’t mean it didn’t have the 3d feeling, and the point isn’t in technology but in usefulness. If you like it or are more comfortable with it, use it. I’ll wait for decent 3d input devices. ozn 2004-04-02 6:56 pm By nivenh (IP: —.client.comcast.net) – Posted on 2004-04-01 18:49:41 Look at the videos. Its a 3D environment. No products made by Stardock have any similarity to this. Incorrect. WindowFX uses 3d acceleration in order to do the transitions themselves. -Ian 2004-04-02 7:08 pm it requires more mouse movement and scroll wheel manipulation to get to different apps than I personally like. Seems OSX has the right concept with Expose and it’s an actual released non-beta product – singe key press and all the desktop apps shrink down so you can select the one you want. On a 2D screen environment, this has proven to be the fastest and most useful way I’ve seen to handle such a design goal. We’ll have to see how Looking Glass works once it’s released. 2004-04-03 5:10 am It uses 3d Acceleration to draw the screen. Much different than actually having a 3d windowing environment in this guys Window Manager (if you wanna call it that) Windows become 3d objects being able to rotate and exist in a 3d plane of view. Stardock is just utilizing the abilities of the graphics card so your CPU doesn’t get bogged down by all the visual effects. Something much like Quartz yet still different at the implementation. 2004-04-03 3:12 pm Talking about decluttering your desktop, has anyone used WinPlosion? It appears to be a version of Exposé but for XP! http://www.winplosion.com/ 2004-04-03 7:46 pm Navigating a sphere is too labourious- the program should retain the 3d concept and use multiple desktops instead. 2004-04-05 4:21 pm I had a quick look at the online demos of Winplosion and its frustrating to try and work out how to use it. As this is a demo of the product, I dont want to try it. In case you’re interested : There is a screen full of open windows and 3 key combos or 4 corners of the screen you can click on to rearrange the windows. Once you have clicked a key combination, sometimes the other keys do something, other times they dont. Its the same for the corners of the screen. you have no idea what you are really doing either, Windows move around and shrink in some fashion. It might be nice, but given the trouble just running the “easy to use” demo, I dont fancy a go. If it is good, slay me Its nice they tried to produce a good quality demo, a good feature. But they didnt entice me to try it.