Feeds

Microsoft blesses XP skins

Antidote to Dayglo Luna Hell

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

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

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.