Thursday, September 24, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: OS Customization
This week's community question is focusing on desktop skinning, WindowBlinds in particular! There are so many WindowBlinds skins available and I probably couldn't describe all the styles and colors available.
I personally like more of a minimal style skin, but more "wild" skins have also been popular. If you have no preference that's certainly great, but I wanted to put out the question to our community.
Do you prefer more minimal type skins, more "wild" designs, or does it matter to you? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Monday, September 21, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: WinCustomize News
Fall official starts tomorrow! Hopefully, this means some cooler weather will be headed our way. Although we don't the seasonal color changing down here, I'd love to see some pics from our community who do get to see it.
Otherwise, some of us must be happy with just seeing seasonal colors on the desktop, and that's what todays post is about. Here's some static and animated wallpapers for the new season!
Friday, September 18, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing
Somehow, I missed this giveaway earlier, but I wanted to post it as it ends this weekend. Our friends over at Neowin are giving a Lenovo Legion 5i gaming laptop (U.S. only).
Head over to Neowin for the details and how to enter: https://www.neowin.net/news/giveaway-were-giving-away-a-lenovo-legion-5i-gaming-laptop-us-only
With a special guest appearance by Groupy
Thursday, September 17, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Software Blog
If you love a coordinated and stylish desktop, then you really need to try Curtains.
Taking advantage of the groundwork built to support light and dark mode, Curtains will let you apply new styles along the lines of Dark and Light Modes to Windows® 10. It also includes styles that will let you make Windows look like Windows XP, Windows 95, or other operating systems!
Use the built-in style editor and can create your own Style modes! We just released v1.1 yesterday, adding a big feature: the ability to add blur and transparency effects to your Explorer windows. Certain Curtains styles already come with blur built in - specifically, most of the Fluent styles that you find in the program integrate this feature automatically. In the image below, though, I've taken another style - Cairo Dark - that doesn't have it as the default and changed the option to "Acrylic Blur," which gives the lovely effect you see in the image above.
My favorite thing about Curtains is how perfectly it integrates with Groupy, which you can see in the image above. In order to make them look good together, we made it so that Curtains would automatically select suitable colors anytime you’re using a Style mode without custom Groupy parts. When in dark mode, the tab will remain dark in all apps for the foreground state, and a new “close all” button was added to the far right of the tab.
One of the other new features in v1.1 lets you extend the title bar into the top of the ribbon for Explorer windows. If you love to customize your desktop right down to the smallest detail, then you'll love this feature. Below is an example of an Explorer window with the option turned on (left), and one with it turned off (right).
Below, you can see how I adjusted the settings on the Cairo Dark style to add the effects I want. I saved a copy so that the original stays unaffected while I tweak the settings on mine to my personal preferences. This gives me an easy way to return to the default if I decide I want to. As you can see, I generally prefer a style that emphasizes more of a Dark Mode feeling - but, if you're a Light Mode kind of person, there's plenty of that in there for you also!
Have you tried Curtains yet? v1.1 is available right now and contains all of the awesome blur and transparency features you see above, along with quality of life improvements and increased style application speed. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
Customize Windows with new style modes, now with new blur and transparency effects
Wednesday, September 16, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Curtains News
Stardock releases v1.1 for Curtains™, the popular Windows customization app
v1.1 is now available for all Curtains and Object Desktop™ users
Stardock released a v1.1 update for Curtains today. One of Stardock’s newest customization tools, Curtains allows users to apply new styles along the lines of Dark Mode and Light to Windows® 10.
Taking advantage of the groundwork built to support light and dark mode, Curtains includes several unique styles that enhance the look and feel of the Windows UI along with apps that already support light and dark mode.
"The advantage of using a program like Curtains is that it's essentially just adding new 'modes' to Windows," said Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock. "It works with high DPI displays and your existing programs. This gives users a little extra touch of customizing the Windows experience."
Users can easily create and share their own styles using the built in style editor. A Curtains style can change everything that Light and Dark mode can change, including the Start button, title bar buttons, and title bar coloring. It also supports tweaking gradients, shadows opacity, and hundreds of other small elements of the Windows GUI.
The newest version of Curtains adds a major new feature for Explorer background transparency and blur effects. While the new option only comes standard with certain styles in the app, users can edit other styles and apply the blur and transparency effects themselves for further customization.
A new option to extend the title bar ribbon in Explorer windows also adds an extra layer of customization for those who enjoy editing every detail of their Windows experience. v1.1 also introduces several quality of life improvements and increased style application speed.
Curtains is also available in Object Desktop™, our complete suite of desktop enhancements.
Object Desktop includes programs like Fences®, Start10™, Groupy™, SoundPackager™, DeskScapes™, Multiplicity®, and more.
Tuesday, September 15, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing
We have a large wallpaper gallery here and since we've been focusing on getting more content added, I was wondering how you use some of these. Specifically, do you take a desktop wallpaper and use it as the wallpaper on your mobile device such as a phone or tablet?
On most of my mobile devices I typically just use a photo from my photo album, but I have used downloaded wallpapers before.
Monday, September 14, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: WinCustomize News
We're just about a week away from the official start of Fall, and if you are someone who likes to match your desktop with the season, now is a fantastic time to get started!
Starting off with a good WindowBlinds skin is a great foundation to build on. Fall Color is a beautiful WindowBlinds skin that is a great starting point for any fall desktop. Also check out the Fall 2 Master skin bydon5318.
Changing the wallpaper is a good next step. We have a nice variety of both animated and static wallpapers, so you have a ton of choices. Autumn Colors is a beautiful animated wallpaper scene for DeskScapes that goes great with the above WindowBlinds skin.
Autumn Leaves on Ground is a static wallpaper that also goes great with our desktop.
These are just a few themes to get you started but take some time to search and browse through the WinCustomize galleries. There are many more seasonal skins and themes that will get your desktop ready for the cooler weather!
Thursday, September 10, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Software Blog
When I first came to Stardock and started learning about all of our software, one program in particular eluded my understanding: Multiplicity. What exactly is Multiplicity? Why on earth would I ever need to use it? It felt somewhat intimidating to me.
However, having spent more time using the application, I've discovered that it's far more convenient and useful than I originally realized. My personal use of Multiplicity is fairly modest, though I know there are plenty of other people who use it far more extensively than I do and they swear by it, too.
What is seamless mode?
First off, let's talk a little bit about Multiplicity KM and what seamless mode actually does. You'll need to have both PCs nearby and within your field of view in order to take advantage of this. If you use a multi-monitor setup with one PC, seamless mode works the same way in concept, except you can do it with 2 computers instead of just one. You'll be able to move your mouse cursor from your main PC's monitor right to your second PC's monitor as if they were the same machine.
You can connect a single PC using multiple monitors to another PC using multiple monitors, too! One of my setups at work has a main PC using 2 monitors, while my secondary PC uses one. I can work seamlessly between them, which makes it so convenient (and leaves extra room on my desk for action figures since I don't have to have a second keyboard and mouse in the way!).
See, what did I tell you? More room for action figures!
Setup Tip: When connecting your secondary PC to your primary PC, make sure the secondary PC has a mouse, keyboard, and monitor connected to it or it won't set up properly (this does not apply for laptops). You won't need to use the keyboard and mouse - you'll be able to control it all with your main set! - but they still need to be plugged in during initial setup (you can remove them later).
What else can I do with the KM version of Multiplicity?
Make working from home much easier
Here's a sample of my coworker Spencer's setup. Check out his blog post on Multiplicity and video streaming!
One of my favorite things about Multiplicity KM is how easy it is to use my laptop when I need to work from home. Forgive me belaboring the term, but it really is seamless. If I need to work from home for any reason, I can set up my work laptop (which has a lot of important files and access to company drives that I use daily) right next to my main desktop and work between both PCs. I prefer to use my desktop for most things, since I have a nice big monitor, but it doesn't always have everything I need on it. Using Multiplicity eliminates a lot of extra work for me when I need to retrieve stuff for work.
Tip: Bring your laptop back and forth from work and home regularly! This will ensure you always have what you need on hand whether you're needing it at the office or at home in your den.
Share sound between PCs
Honestly, it took me awhile before I started utilizing this feature, and I'm mad I didn't do it sooner. I used to switch my headset back and forth between PCs, depending on what I was doing on each and where I needed sound to come from. By setting up my sound properly, I could hear alerts, alarms, music, and everything else from both computers through one headset plugged into my primary PC.
Setup Tip: Did you know you can use a hotkey to toggle this feature on and off? Give it a try when you only need to hear sound from your main computer!
Copy and Paste Formatted Text Between PCs
This one is HUGE for me, since I pretty much live in word documents. Being able to copy something from one PC and move it over to the other as if it were all a single machine really helps me with my workflow.
Tip: If you want to drag and drop files between multiple PCs, you can do that with the KVM version of Multiplicity. You can learn more about that version below.
For many users, controlling 2 PCs with one keyboard and mouse is enough - but what if you're a computer hobbyist and have a bunch of PCs in your home or at work that you'd like to control and manage remotely and/or seamlessly? You'll want the KVM version of Multiplicity for that, which you can learn more about here.
If you're trying to set up Multiplicity and are having any problems, check out our FAQ Guide.
Do you use Multiplicity? Share your stories with me!
Monday, September 7, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: WinCustomize News
It's been great to see some skinners returning to WinCustomize and sharing some new creations. We want to extend a big welcome back to BONEHEADdb! He's been one of the top CursorFX creators on the site, and he has shared two new CFX themes which you need to check out. Can't wait to see more!
Let's go aaaallllll the way back to 1999...
Thursday, September 3, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Software Blog
Today we're going to talk a bit about the history and evolution of WindowBlinds, which released all the way back in 1999 (for the mathematically challenged, that's 21 years ago...yikes!). WindowBlinds was the first program that let users customize the look and feel of the Windows GUI and is still widely popular today.
Although the start of WindowBlinds was long before I came to Stardock (I started here in September 2015), I took a dive through the forums and the website to take a look all the way back at the beginning. So, let's start there with version 1.
Released September 20, 1999
Version 1 released and rose to immediate popularity with over 1 million downloads on CNET's Download.com before the end of the year. Above, you can see the customized window frames and menu bars, and, if you can say you happened to use version 1, you probably feel a little old right now.
While digging through the WindowBlinds website archives, I found this early Drengin image from the 90's.
The Drengin have also come a long way in the last 20 or so years... but that's another blog.
Our product UI has definitely changed and improved a whole lot in the last 20+ years.
To be honest, I picked the above image mostly because I liked the rainbow spiral. It showcases a good variety for WinCustomize v1.0, though.
Released October 11, 2000
Version 2 added per-window skinning, semi-transparent explorer windows, and skin colorizing.
Check out that retail box! Who even remembers a time when you bought PC software in the store anymore? To be honest, I sort of miss it, though it's hard to argue against the convenience and ease of online purchases anymore.
WindowBlinds skins supported adding buttons and other objects into the frames (such as this stock ticker).
Remember AOL? I sure do, I spent WAY too many hours of my youth on Instant Messenger. That said, I've heard it was a pain to skin - but check out that classic Stardock logo!
Released November 13, 2001
Designed with Windows XP in mind, Version 3 was the first version that could skin every part of the Windows GUI. This version took advantage of the new API framework at the time and made its skins "native" to Windows XP.
WindowBlinds 3 loaded a "skin" from the disk and then applied the skin to the Windows GUI. With it, users could customize title bars, borders, push buttons, radio buttons, combo boxes, scrollbars, status bars, properties dialogs, tab controls, header controls, list boxes, and pretty much every other element.
WindowBlinds 3 was more than just aesthetically pleasing! It added a bunch of new usability features, transitioning WindowBlinds from being more of an "eye candy" product into a true productivity tool for Windows users. It could also make Windows look like other OSes...something that received mixed feedback from the community.
Released April 8, 2003
Version 4 was designed almost entirely with Windows XP in mind.
WindowBlinds 4 skinned virtually every aspect of the Windows GUI, including things that were previously thought to be unskinnable like logon/logoff dialogues, the "please wait" dialogue, backgrounds in the Control Panel, and more.
Man, I miss the GameCube. From what I could find when digging through old website and archives, it seems like some companies partnered with us to create skins for Windows using some of their IPs, which is pretty cool.
Options, options, options...so many of them!
Released November 29, 2005
WindowBlinds 5 was designed to support per-pixel alpha blending, toolbar button changing, progress animation improvements, animated per-pixel Start menus, title bars, and tons more.
When Version 5 released, WindowBlinds was the most popular desktop-enhancement utility of all time, according to CNET's Download.com. We had over 8 million users worldwide and had passed the 9 million downloads mark.
Remember how I mentioned skins featuring different IPs? Yep, found one for World of Warcraft!
Released October 2, 2007
WindowBlinds 6 added the ability to apply effects like Gaussian blurs to skins in real-time. The new configuration was, perhaps, the biggest change.
Anyone remember a little game called Elemental? Check out this WindowBlinds 6 skin themed after it.
This version of WindowBlinds also added advanced animation support for skins, which allowed our user base to do some pretty wild things.
Released November 17, 2009
I'm told this was a coincidence and not at all intended, but WindowBlinds 7 happened to be ready just in time for the arrival of Windows 7. In this version, we introduced a new type of skinning format called UIS0, which allowed users to just modify the existing Aero skin. This made WindowBlinds a lot more popular for people who liked Aero, but wanted a bit nicer look and feel to it.
WindowBlinds 7 included a new configuration program that made it easy to access the new features of the program, like adding textures to existing skins.
Released June 19, 2013
Version 8 was mostly about getting WindowBlinds to work on Windows 8. This version worked on Windows 7 also, and included SkinStudio for free, which would allow users to design their own skins.
SkinStudio made it easy for inexperienced users to create a great skin quickly, while advanced users could still enjoy designing every aspect of the windows interface.
Because I was trying to be as thorough as possible with this recap for WindowBlinds,
I spent entirely too long last night digging for the history of Version 9.
Except, there is no Version 9. We skipped 9 and went straight to 10, like Windows.
Don't ask me why the number 9 seems to get no love, I couldn't tell you.
Released March 15, 2016
A year after I arrived at Stardock, WindowBlinds 10 made its debut. We needed to make sure we had a product that was fully compatible with Windows 10, and of course it came with a shiny new UI and plenty of never-before-seen skins that offered a broader customization experience for our users.
As you can see, better looking versions of old OSes are still pretty popular. Re-live the good old Windows 7 days!
WindowBlinds 10 still has plenty of customization options - far more than ever before - so that you can tweak your desktop down to the most minute of details.
I think one of my absolute favorite features of WindowBlinds 10 is the randomization. If I like a bunch of skins, I can use this option to have my computer cycle through them at random intervals, giving me a fresh look and a bit of a surprise every time I boot up. The per-application skinning is great for variety, too - I can use one skin for my word processing software, and use a different skin for something like Premiere.
So, that's the history of WindowBlinds - phew! How long have you been using the program and what are some of your favorite skins?