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Ruin your PC with an Aqua Dock

A Friday novelty

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Perhaps Apple has realized that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Or perhaps it's seconded its lawyers to Research in Motion, Inc.

Because a small number of sites continue to produce knock-offs of the Aqua UI. On two of the most popular, Aqua-Man and Emaculation, you can find work in progress to bring Aqua controls, and even basic versions of the "iApps" bundle to Windows.

What these sites are enthused about this week is a technology demo from Stardock, which brings the much loved, or loathed Dock to Windows. You can find it here, and you'll note that it comes gift-wrapped with disclaimers. It's unsupported and you have to agree not to be disappointed:

"I also understand that this program makes no claims to accurately emulate or represent itself as a reasonable facsimile of any docks on other operating systems," reads the disclaimer.

'Dock's Dock

The demo is about a year old, Stardock's CEO Brad Wardell told us. Apple has gone after Stardock before, when the company was caught in one of its early and fairly indiscriminate sweeps against Aqua tributes.

Stardock provides skinning technology and other UI enhancements that make Windows bearable. It launched its own highly configurable and customizable ObjectBar more than a year ago. A couple of years ago it began to trial a scriptable, object-based UI called DesktopX, that we'd like to see other OSes try and emulate, as the results can be dazzling. The screenshot of Brad's desktop shows animated desktop icons with shadows, which Apple will surely want to emulate at some point.

Wardell reckons Stardock's track record speaks for itself:-

"WindowFX was the first program to do alpha blending on the desktop anywhere, long before OS X shipped even in beta form," he said.

Ironically, Brad bought a top of the range iMac recently - we're not sure if this qualifies him as a Switcher - and has been blogging the experience.

ObjectDock actually works pretty nicely - the zooming is fast and consistent, there's a little "poof!" effect as items are removed. It doesn't slow down under heavy system load unlike the real thing, so visually at least, you probably won't be disappointed.

Our antipathy to Apple's Dock is well known enough to regular readers, and a recent tip advised how you could reduce it a one-pixel high nuisance. We've since become converts to Drag Thing, which continues to improve at a terrific rate, and is much more like what the Dock should have been, and a whole lot more. ®

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