Stardock's Windows Vista Road-Map

Making Windows Vista YOURS

Monday, January 29, 2007 by Frogboy | Discussion: OS Customization

Windows Vista has finally arrived! Many people have been asking us what are Stardock's plans? What can we do to take an excellent new OS like Windows Vista and make it better?

There have been a lot of articles on how users of Windows XP can get a lot of the visual benefits of Windows Vista using Stardock Object Desktop. And while that may be true, Windows Vista provides us a whole new canvas of cool things we can do.

For Starters: LogonStudio Vista

If you have Object Desktop already and Windows Vista, you can now change the way your Windows Vista logon looks with LogonStudio Vista.

We've developed a new format (.logonvista). While existing .logonxp files won't work on Windows Vista due to the significant change in the way logons are displayed, I have a feeling there will be no shortage of logons being made for Windows Vista.

LogonStudio Vista will be available for free when it's finished. If you want it now, you'll need to get Object Desktop.

Availability: NOW for Object Desktop users.

Your GUI your way: WindowBlinds 5.5

Windows Vista's new look -- Aero, looks awesome. I like it a lot. But I also like to personalize my UI to look how I want it to look. Luckily you can -- with WindowBlinds 5.5.

With thousands of different visual styles to skin the look and feel of Windows Vista, along with the ability to change color, saturation, and all kinds of other elements, Windows Vista users will be able to make Windows Vista look however they want it to look.

And for power users -- WindowBlinds cuts battery consumption over Windows Vista Aero significantly. On our internal tests, running Vista with a WindowBlinds skin gave back over 40 minutes of battery life on a Dell laptop. You can test for yourself, it's pretty consistent. And if that's not enough, WindowBlinds is faster too thanks to DWM caching.

Availability: NOW for Object Desktop users (in beta). Public release, February 5th.

Animated Wallpaper on-the-fly: DeskScapes

If you have Windows Vista Ultimate, you will be able to get Microsoft's new animated wallpaper extra called Windows DreamScene. It lets you play video as animated wallpaper.  If you like the computer generated animated wallpaper that comes with it, then good, we made it, including the one shown at launch and the default official one (animated Aurora).

Object Desktop users will be able to get exclusive animated wallpapers not available anywhere else. And they'll be getting our new program that lets Windows Vista Ultimate users have dynamic animated wallpaper. Dynamic animated wallpaper is generated on the fly and it's all done on the video card so even on a mid-powerful computing rig, you'll see virtually no CPU use and incredibly cool stuff.

Moreover, it supports a new format we've designed called .dream.  Amongst the various features it supports, one really straight forward one we think artists will enjoy -- credit. Look at the screenshot on the right and you'll see that we've extended the wallpaper dialog to support author info (which can be a link to a website).  Creating a good animated wallpaper is non-trivial and we figured artists would want to make sure their hard work gets credit and send them traffic.

Availability: As soon as Microsoft releases Windows DreamScene for Object Desktop users.

Gadgets: The Next Generation = DesktopX

Windows Vista includes the Sidebar. That's good.  Making sidebar gadgets is not particularly easy. That's bad.  But sidebar gadgets provide a standard format. That's good. But the native functionality of the Sidebar gadget APIs is painfully low. That's bad.

Enter: DesktopX 3.5. Nearly ready for beta, DesktopX allows users to export their creations as Windows Sidebar gadgets!  This is significant because of the massive functionality and API support built natively into DesktopX.  From a technological point of view, it's a superset of every widget/gadget implementation out there. With 8 years of development behind DesktopX and thousands of widgets, objects, and gadgets out there,  it provides a huge boost to Windows Sidebar gadgets and a great way for users to be introduced to the power of DesktopX.

Because DesktopX doesn't just make gadgets, you can build desktops (we even make an enterprise version of DesktopX for corporations wanting to create secure branded desktop environments).

Stardock also has developed a technology that allows users to create gadgets in .NET (including WPF gadgets). We'll be talking more about that soon.

Availability: Late February Beta for Object Desktop users

Changing Icons for Windows Vista: IconPackager 2.5

Changing the icons for Windows Vista is not quite as easy as previous OSes. For one thing, the folders are done differently -- they have "live previews".  But no worry, we've got that nailed down now and you can now even change the live folder preview icons and still get live previews! 

Availability: Early February in beta on Object Desktop.


Your own boot screen: BootSkin Vista

Stardock BootSkin allows users of Windows XP to change their boot screens. So what about Windows Vista users?  On Windows Vista, the default is not boot screen at all!  With BootSkin Vista, you'll be able to have your own high-resolution, high color boot screen of your choice.

Like BootSkin for Windows XP, when completed it'll be released as freeware.  But the initial beta will be on Object Desktop only.

Availability: Mid March for beta on Object Desktop.


Tweak Vista with...TweakVista!

We've partnered up with to bring you a new program called TweakVista.  Designed both for power users and their friends and family, TweakVista lets users get into the guts of Windows Vista but also allows casual users to maintain their systems.

Many people reading this are probably the family "computer guy".  If you are, you'll definitely want TweakVista to hand out to people because it helps take care of the most common problems people run into with a Windows PC. But it also lets you dig into the guts of Vista to change undocumented settings and get more data on your system than..well probably more data than you really need to know.

Availability: Mid March beta.


A Dock for Vista: ObjectDock

If you have ObjectDock 1.5, you have the version that already runs on Windows Vista. But the good news is that we are busy at work on the next version of ObjectDock which is due out later this year. If you don't have ObjectDock (particularly ObjectDock Plus) grab it! You can get ObjectDock right now at

Availability: Summer


Better Cursors for Vista: CursorVista

CursorXP is the defacto alternative to the Windows XP mouse cursors. On Windows Vista, CursorVista is being designed to make it even more powerful. Thanks to the new DWM (the composited, 3D surface that is the Windows Vista desktop), all kinds of fun should be possible.  We are getting fairly close to having a beta of this available.  If you have Windows XP, you can get CursorXP at

Availability: Early Spring

And now a peek at Stardock's lab!

Working on stuff that's about to get released is very exciting. But the stuff that's just getting cooked up in the labs is just as exciting. When Windows Vista's RTM build was sent to us, we were able to start digging in and seeing what's possible. As video driver quality gets better and we get a handle on what parts of Windows are more easily extended than others, cool stuff results.

My #1 reason I like Windows Vista in terms of customization is that it's free from a CPU point of view.  Now that the desktop is a 3D surface, we can do all kinds of cool stuff without affecting system performance.

For instance, Microsoft's Windows DreamScene plays video as your wallpaper. Now, I've seen people say "You could do animated wallpaper on Windows with <insert hack here>." Please. What is possible and what is practical are two different things.  The only CPU used by DreamScene is in the decoding of video which is not a major deal now adays.  Other effects are completely done on the video card.

On Windows XP, we had to develop a DirectX interface ourselves to get universally good performance with this stuff (which people noticed in WindowBlinds 5).  But on Vista, everything's already on the video card, it's great!

Rise of the Super-Gadgets: Code-Name DesktopVista

With Microsoft providing a standard gadget format, Stardock can then concentrate its resources into what it does best -- making really cool technology.  Not a competitor to DesktopX, DesktopVista is designed to enable the creation skinnable gadgets.  That is, a system in which a standard gadget skin format can be created and used to skin gadgets.  Right now, it's just a technology. 

A New Style for Windows Vista: Code-Name StyleVista

Windows Vista is pretty polished. But it could be polished further. Enter StyleVista. This new program will let users alter the little touches that Microsoft has in Windows Vista that don't quite fit into skinning but also are just beyond what is included. Want a different blur effect? Want to change that Start button? StyleVista is for you.  We're still inventorying what we can and can't do with the DWM now that finalized video drivers are coming out so we'll have more news on this soon.

Build your own 3D desktop: Time for 3D modelers to get their day

For years, a significant percentage of artists were locked out of customization. 3D modelers might be able to make pretty rendered icons but beyond that, things were limited.  But now, thanks to a combination of Windows Presentation Foundation  (WPF) and Media Center Markup Language (MCML) we are exploring letting users take their 3D creations from Maya, 3D Studio (and if possible XAML) and turn them into working, fucntional 3D desktops. Not 3D in the sense that you move around the screen but rather where the objects you interact with are 3D.

What we can and can't do will heavily depend on the capabilities of WPF/MCML and the DWM which we're still exploring (as well as video drivers).  We hope to have something to show late summer.

Other Cool Stuff(TM)

People on Linux have been showing off XGL for awhile.  Anyone with Windows XP should try out WindowFX and know we've been doing window scaling, 3D dragging of windows, and all kinds of effects since Windows XP launched and we didn't have the benefit of a 3D accelerated desktop.  Now we do.  That's all I'm going to say on that.

It's going to be an exciting year! Stay tuned!

First Previous Page 1 of 3 Next Last
Reply #1 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 1:07 AM
It says a lot about your company and products Brad when I consider that migrating to Vista is weighted by what Stardock is doing. 

I have a question though.  Will all of the apps work with all versions of Vista or just Ultimate?  Will there be a table that describe what parts of the ODNT suite and the other apps will work on which version?
Reply #2 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 1:29 AM
What can I say? This is the most incredible and pleasing information which I found here during two last years! Particularly paragraph about 3D desktops. It has left the most great impression in my head. Can't wait all of these...

Keep up your Great Work. STARDOCK IS THE BEST  
Reply #3 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:41 AM
All of this is absolutely TREMENDOUS!! Congrats on all the success so far, and keep up the great work!

One comment, though: Any way to integrate all the different programs into one mega control panel? Many of us have "grown" alongside ObjectDesktop for years, now, so we're used to all the different names for each program you've released... but I fear that, as more and more Vista users are introduced to OD and other Stardock products, they are bound to get caught up in the names and forget what's what. (E.g., "Object Desktop? Is that like DesktopVista? Or DesktopX? Is DesktopVista the Vista-only version of DesktopX? Do I need to use ObjectBar or ObjectDock to get that Konfabulator-like thing? Is the Sidebar the same as an ObjectBar?")

My suggestion, is to to have a master ObjectDesktop Control Panel wherein users can control (or at least access) all of the OD components. Major categorical subdivisions could even be as simple as System Configuration and GUI Customization, and then each program's options would be listed therein.


- CONFIGURATION & ANIMATION = TweakVista, StyleVista, WindowFX
- GUI CUSTOMIZATION = Boot Screen (BootSkin), Logon Screen (LogonVista), Window Appearance (WindowBlinds), Icons (IconPackager, IconX), Desktop (DreamScene, DeskScapes), All-in-One (Suites)
- VIRTUAL DESKTOPS = Stardock Virtual Desktops
- ALTERNATE UIs = Docks (ObjectDock), Gadgets (DesktopX Widgets, Windows Sidebar), Alternate Bar Themes (ObjectBar), Alternate Non-Explorer GUIs (DesktopX Themes, 3D Desktop)
- CREATE CONTENT = IconDeveloper, SkinStudio, DesktopX

Just a thought, but I think product integration (under the ObjectDesktop brand), ease of accessibility and uniformity of presentation goes a long way to making your already fabulous products more intuitive and user-friendly.

Thanks for all the hard work!!

PS> I do like the name "DeskScapes," by the way.
Reply #4 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 8:23 AM
CavalierX,  something like Object Desktop Launchpad?   Click me!
Reply #5 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:47 PM
It all sounds so cool. I'm particularly interested in Code-Name DesktopVista and a universal gadget skinning format. I have been thinking about how something like that might work since Frogboy wrote articles on XAML and Sparkle back in late 2005. Can't wait to see what's being put togther by Stardock.
I.R. Brainiac
Reply #6 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:20 PM
I'm just getting into 3d modelling so anything that will incorporate that sounds cool to me.  
Jim Wilt
Reply #7 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:22 PM
Question on Vista Basic Video Enhancements:

Background: My tablet has the Intel 915GM/GMS,910GML chipset which does not support Vista Aero. Running XP + Windowblinds 5,I get a wonderful Aero experience with much valve-add.

Running Vista Ultimate, with only Basic video support, there is very little valve-add to using Windowblinds (however, Window FX does offer significant value-add to Basic video support)

Question: At any future date, will Vista Windowblinds offer Aero (at the level supported by XP) to Vista Basic video supported users?
Stephen Kilmer
Reply #8 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:25 PM
What does this all mean for Object Desktop owners that don't go with Vista. Are we going to be left behind?
Reply #9 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:25 PM
oooh yea! Vista = gadget goodies!
Reply #10 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:32 PM
meh wants to work for SD making 3D desktops!
Island Dog
Reply #11 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:48 PM
What does this all mean for Object Desktop owners that don't go with Vista. Are we going to be left behind?

It's been stated before that development on programs such as Windowblinds will not stop.  Stardock is not abandoning XP, but we also have to look ahead as well.

Reply #12 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 4:08 PM
Got Ultimate and Home Premium on order, so we'll see how things progress. I'm excited about the new changes.   
Reply #13 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 6:00 PM
Stardock 2007 FTW!
Reply #14 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 8:09 PM

Sort of like OD Launchpad -- but the difference is, instead of just having a launchpad that opens the different programs, the OD Control Panel would basically give you all of the available options in one location (kind of like the Display Properties window gives you access to many different things; or like TweakUI does).

Basically, if you can bring everything to one central location, then new users won't be left wondering "where was that option?" or "what program do I use to do this?" Obviously, I know people will catch on quickly enough. I'm just giving shooting out a new idea to see what people think of it.

Long live Stardock!!
Reply #15 Tuesday, January 30, 2007 9:01 PM
Hey I see CursorVista does this mean that CursorXP going to get some of its need updates?
Life is a Game
Reply #16 Wednesday, January 31, 2007 3:18 AM
I decided not to upgrade to Vista until I buy a new computer but reading this article made me change my mind to upgrade to Vista once all the cool stuff from Stardock will be released.
Cherokee Kid
Reply #17 Wednesday, January 31, 2007 5:37 PM
I have to admit, Stardock & WinCustomise has got to be the best reason for even having a PC. This was an exciting and anticipating article for the future of Windows.
Reply #18 Wednesday, January 31, 2007 9:56 PM
isn't it funny how an Aqua theme ends up applied to Windows Vista or is just me?
Reply #19 Thursday, February 1, 2007 5:38 AM
I have been a long time supporter of Stardock and Windowblinds. However.. in the past graphically Windowblinds could always do much more than anything included with the OS. I know this may change in the future but right now the screenshots are looking like XP warmed over. I would like to see a WB that has the unified transparency areas amongst other thing in Vista. I think I remember someone saying that might be in WB6 or something. However it still doesn't stop me from not liking the current state of WB5. Not that I don't appreciate the work it took to make even that work in Vista. I would just like fresh skin technology to go with a fresh OS. Otherwise I'll have to much to my chagrin stick to Aero until it does get the graphical features it is missing that Aero has. It can potentially be Aero and a whole lot more. I'd like to see Stardock software make more use of the accelerated desktop other than just making the old stuff work faster. Although yes I do realize it is still a bit early and it took years to leverage as much as WB5 does in XP but I just wanted to voice my opinion\concern on the matter.
Neil Banfield
Reply #20 Thursday, February 1, 2007 2:01 PM

Which bits in particular do you feel WB is missing?

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