Feeds

Microsoft blesses XP skins

Antidote to Dayglo Luna Hell

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Microsoft will bless leading third party skinning software WindowBlinds at a media event in Michigan on Monday.

It's a diplomatic triumph for Stardock, which we've likened before to one of those strange organisms that thrives on the edge of underwater thermal vents, where survival is generally regarded as impossible. Life is perilous for Windows utility vendors, who face being acquired, co-opted or crushed by The Beast.

Stardock embarked on skinning Windows in 1998, and for a brief time last year it appeared that it would have its prime revenue source undermined by Microsoft after The Beast announced that Whistler (XP) would include 'Visual Styles'. But this was never really the case: Stardock's WindowBlinds allows you to make drastic alterations to the Windows UI, for example by replacing the Minimize, Maximize and Close window with Mac or NeXT window controls.

With some justification, Microsoft wants to keep the UI consistent, and so its Visual Styles allow you to alter the colours, but keep the window controls where they are.

Stardock will announce the new XP-friendly WindowBlinds 3 at the event. This has a new architecture 'SkinEngine XP', a way of creating user-defined titlebar buttons, a new skin format, and a new 'push' mechanism for updating client desktops with new skins. The upshot is that WindowBlinds 3 gets integrated into the main Display properties box, and you'll need it to make existing applications inherit XP visual styles. Which would make it pretty mandatory, we'd guess.

In fact, while previous versions of WindowBlinds have been used to liven up the dull Windows UI, we suspect that one of the first uses that WB3 will be to tone down XP's nightmarish dayglo garb. (You can turn Luna off, we should point out.)

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell also threw a barb in the direction of Cupertino with this comment:-

"It should be pointed out that while one OS vendor was threatening lawsuits to its developers trying to customize its latest OS, Microsoft was adding APIs to Windows XP to make it easier for third parties such as Stardock to customize it," he said.

Which is fair enough. The team behind the Kaleidoscope utility for MacOS which pioneered skins - Greg Landweber and Arlo Rose - recently announced that the current version would be the last: Apple has not revealed how to make Aqua skinnable. So you won't be seeing Mac OS X take on any of these glorious appearances.

Think different - but not too different, OK? ®

Related Stories

Apple rattles lawyers at DesktopX over Aqua
Apple patents desktop themes
Windows skin site re-posts MacOS X desktop theme

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?