Windows DreamScene - Animated Wallpaper for an Ultimate Extra

Totally cool desktop customization

Sunday, January 7, 2007 by Frogboy | Discussion: CES 2007

As Microsoft just announced, one of the first Ultimate Extras (extra features users of Windows Vista Ultimate can download) is a new animated wallpaper feature called "Windows DreamScene".

Windows DreamScene at a glance:

  • A Windows Vista Ultimate Extra
  • Run High-Definition Video as a Wallppaer
  • Uses .MPEG/.WMV as content

So what exactly is Windows DreamScene? And what are the extensions and enhancements coming out for it?

Windows DreamScene is an animated wallpaper technology developed by Microsoft that plays high-definition video content as your wallpaper. The key ability of it is that it can do so without using significant amounts of CPU (basically the decoding of the video is the only real CPU use involved).  The animation itself is run through the hardware accelerated DWM.

Software developer Stardock, makers of popular desktop enhancement utilities such as WindowBlinds, DesktopX, ObjectDock, etc. worked with Microsoft on the creation of content and has developed a number of tools to extend the feature set of Windows DreamScene. 

On the content side, Stardock Design created a number of 3D animated content for Microsoft including the default animated Aurora. Microsoft is holding back on releasing all the content they have until Spring 2007.  Stardock also added support for animated wallpapers on its popular community site at

With regards to the additonal tools and enhancements Stardock has released two of them.

The first enhancement is a new program called DeskScapes.  DeskScapes extends DreamScenes to support dynamic content (i.e. videos are pre-rendered).  With dynamic content, you could have your wallpaper change based on weather, time of day, or news.  Or you could just have some cool Direct3D "stuff" that runs (like one of those fish aquariums running as your wallpaper). 

Stardock DeskScapes at a glance:

  • Extends Windows DreamScene to support Dynamic/Live content
  • Adds support for the .Dream format
  • Displays author info/URL in the desktop background dialog
  • Supports triggers (change videos based on time, weather, etc.)
  • Is only available for Windows Vista Ultimate Users
  • Is free

The other key feature of DeskScapes is that it introduces the .DREAM format. This allows artists to protect their artwork.  The .DREAM format supports triggers (changing what is playing based on specific triggers) and it allows creators to insert their author info and a link to their website which we think is crucial to encourage artists to spend the time to create good animated wallpapers.

The other tool Stardock is working on is tentatively called Dream Maker. What it does is make it easy for authors to create .Dream files.  Its goal will be to help make it as easy as possible to create your own animated wallpapers.

To learn more about Windows Vista Ultimate, go to To download content to personalize your Windows Vista experience, visit

Get More Dreams (animated wallpapers): Dream.WinCustomize.Com


(1) Dyanmic content uses virtually no CPU, it's all on the video card. (2) DreamScene in action. (3) .Dream Files support author info.


First Previous Page 2 of 4 Next Last
Reply #21 Monday, January 8, 2007 10:15 PM
Wow, this is the greatest thing I have seen yet. I look forward to a background of a thunderstorm with moving clouds, lightning and maybe even some rain. Like something out of rain forest.

This would be very relaxing for a person, like me, who uses thunder storm sounds to sleep with. Wow, now I want Vista more than ever. I just hope something is done about the DRM issue I have heard so much about in Vista.
Reply #22 Monday, January 8, 2007 10:29 PM
I love the idea of tying into a clock/time zone weather thing. Another idea would be to connect a webcam to it, so if someone has a feed from say Venice Beach you could have that running in the background instead of just a lil window in the corner.

And the Milkdrop guys should tie their WinAmp plugin to this ASAP!!!
Reply #23 Monday, January 8, 2007 10:30 PM
Yea this just makes me want Vista Ultimate even more. When is it coming out i want it so badly
Reply #24 Monday, January 8, 2007 11:07 PM

But as of late WC has been slow. contraire....the past day or two have been the FASTEST I have seen....[and I've been here a 'while']...

Reply #25 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 9:22 AM
'Is Free'

How is it free if it's only available to Ultimate users? If you don't have Ultimate and just the lower end version of Vista and you want this feature, you have to pay to upgrade, right? You have to pay more for Ultimate right off the top, don't you?

I think the feature is cool, but MS is just shaking us down. Like with XP Plus when they had Plus! and then Media Plus!. Why couldn't they just have put them together? Why not make this new feature available on all Vista versions, and why so many versions of Vista to begin with? I feel like I am at a car dealership and they are trying to sell me the dang undercoating and telling me if I want this really cool new feature, I HAVE to pay and get the undercoating as well.
Reply #26 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 9:47 AM
Po', their goal is not to give you the best product. Their goal is to make the most money. So it's in their interest to create an upgrade path. You knew that already, didn't you.

Time to take off the socialist tin-foil hat.
Reply #27 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 9:50 AM
Sounds great!
Reply #28 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 10:16 AM
You knew that already, didn't you

Yes. I'm just tired of it.

I mentioned in another thread, since MS was kind enough to tap WC for the promotion of this feature and all, maybe they would be kind enough to throw a few copies of Vista Ultimate WC's way to give out in a contest. It seems it's the least they could do considering all the free publicity and promotion they will be getting out of WC and it's users.
Reply #29 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 10:30 AM
I'd bet dimes to dollars that they'll be a contest soon at WC and that Vista Ultimate will be a prize. It's too good a marketing opportunity for Stardock/Wincustomize to miss.
Reply #30 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 10:33 AM
That would be nice, as long as you don't have to have Vista and all it's new toys to participate. Then, IMHO, it would be pointless.
Reply #31 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 10:34 AM
Reply #32 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 2:01 PM
Urgh here we go:

1) "(1) Dyanmic content uses virtually no CPU"

Granted the screenshot shows a lot of open programs, but to have both CPU cores jumping around like that, averaging at what, 20% gives me the impression it does use a lot of CPU.

2) I dont know how many people have tried dynamic content as a wallpaper, natural desktop to a small extent I suppose, or to a much larger extent using Winamps Milkdrop visulisation as a background, its about the most annoying thing I have even seen on a desktop.

3) If it is designed to be subtle etc, why does it need to play HD video, when surely a much simpler application could be used, I dont know how exactly, but playing HD video seems so over the top.

4) I want a high resolution background, of course HD video is that, but even my 6600GT isnt going to decode 1080 video on the fly smoothly, and what resolution do i run my desktop at? 1650x1080, so thats ruled out straight away. Again, granted, hardware will develop over the years to support this kind of thing, it just doesnt seem feasible at the moment.

Again I'm VERY skeptical about Stardock's claims towards their new applications, or involvement thereof.
Neil Banfield
Reply #33 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 3:51 PM

The cpu spikes in brads screenshot are because the animation brad was using was loading up very high resolution jpgs from disk every couple of seconds.  In normal use you would not use it like that, it is just running like that for testing purposes.  We have other dynamic content which basically uses no cpu at all.

Decoding HD video will indeed use a fair amount of cpu and you are free to use low res video if you wish.   Dynamic non video content will use less cpu than video content.

I am curious as to what you mean by your final line.  If you are doubting Stardocks involvement with DreamScene then I would refer you to


Reply #34 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 4:43 PM

So here's the scenario I envision. You'd have a pre-rendered desktop video that could change depending on the time. Then, you could handle weather effects through 3D elements. Could you do something like that, or would it be easier to have a complex chain of videos and transition videos? Could you pre-buffer video for the transitions?

God ... so many questions ...
Ryan Vincent
Reply #35 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 5:47 PM
Will this be able to be ported to Windows XP?
Reply #36 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 5:59 PM

I am curious as to what you mean by your final line.


There's only two reasons why Dreamscenes is being reported here so avidly.

1. it's something that has always been aspired-to/dreamed-of [low-impacted animated walls] and that simply couldn't happen till Vista's GUI came along, [hence the current timing], as Vista renders the GUI differently to all Windows vers before it. 


2. Stardock's involvement with its creation makes it doubly topical for members [for the new to the site...Stardock owns], and as a Microsoft Partner Stardock has no reason to be liberal with the truth and/or reality of its position or 'claims' [your word]...

Reply #37 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 6:03 PM
Will this be able to be ported to Windows XP?

I believe it's Vista ULTIMATE only. There have already been similar attempts for XP such as Drempels the Aqua Real Desktop, etc
However this looks much more wide open as far as possible content. While I'll have to forgo updating office computers, I will probably upgrade to Ultimate at home.
Reply #38 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 6:12 PM

I will probably upgrade to Ultimate at home.

That's a definite for me....though at this stage it looks like I'll have to upgrade my DSL modem as well....  

Reply #39 Tuesday, January 9, 2007 7:54 PM

Can't help but notice that "Blissful" is shown in the third shot, but as a sunrise or sunset. Is that going to be one of the dynamic DeskScapes? Because that would be HOT.

As I understand DeskScapes, basically all you're doing is using some sort of XML feed or service to determine when to swap out video. So if you do it based on time, perhaps you're reading the time in the system, but for the weather, maybe you're reading it from the weather gadget or something.

That said, how does DeskScape handle the switch? Is there a noticeable "pop" as the new video loads? How do you handle transitions from one video to the next? God, I have so many questions!


DeskScapes will support two types of extra content:

1) Triggered based video content. That is, where a given condition is met and a different video is displayed (you got the idea from the Blissful one).

2) Dynamic content. This is where it's 3D rendered on the fly.  Ever see those fancy aquarium screen savers? That's dynamic content in action (i.e. not a video loop).


Reply #40 Wednesday, January 10, 2007 11:10 AM
This is a project Stardock has been involved in for some time both in terms content and making tools and enhancements to it.

Out of curiosity, I know that "Team Stardock" made this happen but can you tell us who the prime players were that brought this to fruition?

And one other thing, can you please email my wife and tell her why I need Vista Ultimate now and why that means I'll need a new video card . . AND why that means I really should have a new mobo and CPU?

Shoot . . please just send me all of the above and save time and effort.

Note: I am aware that this product will use VPU, not CPU. But . . a new video card will need a mobo to support it . . and a new mobo will need a new cpu.

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