The taskbar is getting taller
Tuesday, September 20, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
If the idea of having twenty-five windows open doesn’t scare you but the thought of not being able to see all of the windows open at once does, then Start11 is your new best friend. While there are many features in Start11 worth highlighting, not everyone is aware of this particular one: you can expand the taskbar.
The taskbar is arguably the most important part of the Windows operating system. However, Microsoft made significant changes with Windows 11. With ungrouping gone, and centered icons with a left-aligned Start menu also not available, Start11 implements these features, as well as an expandable taskbar.
Out of the box, you can grab the top of the taskbar and drag it upward to expand the height of your taskbar. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can drag it up so that it covers about half of your display.
When you do expand the taskbar, your Start button, widgets, and system tray will automatically stay centered vertically without any input from you. And you can change the height of the taskbar at any time, even if you have a couple of dozen windows already open.
While not the most popular feature in Start11, the expandable taskbar has proven valuable to users that want more space to view all of their open Windows. If you love to have all the windows open, all the time, the expandable taskbar is the next big thing for you!
Windows 11 Is Evolving Faster
Tuesday, September 13, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
It’s no secret that Stardock products make your Windows desktop a more personalized space - and, in many scenarios, a more productive experience overall. From Fences 4 to Start11, our products make your devices fit your workflows instead of you having to adapt to what Windows has decided works best for their more than 1 billion users.
This past week, Microsoft has started to introduce new features into Windows that are designed for tablet users that will shrink or hide the taskbar. This update should make using Windows on a tablet a little bit easier but one of our challenges is that every time there is a major change like this, we have to re-test all of our applications to certify that new features don’t break what we are shipping today.
This type of testing is common in software development. But it also presents unique challenges for Stardock as we implement products based on how Microsoft is shipping their OS.
We have noted previously that the best place to utilize our applications is on the release builds of Windows 11 and not on the dev channel. While we do actively run insider builds at Stardock to make sure our applications work with what’s coming down the pipeline from Microsoft, we cannot actively support the dev channel. It takes us a lot of time to review the changes, see how our applications are impacted, scope an update that addresses the changes, validate that our implementation addresses the issue, beta test the update externally, and then, finally, ship an update.
All this being said, as Microsoft looks ahead to shipping 22h2, we believe our applications are ready for that major release. We are now entering a cycle where dev and beta updates for Windows 11 are going to be bigger changes as the company starts to prepare for its release next year. The company typically ships larger updates around this time of the year so that they have a long runway for validation before the update is pushed to the general population.
We are preparing for an upcoming release of Start11 that will introduce some new functionality and we are looking forward to sharing more about it here in the near future. However, keep in mind that as Microsoft continues its gyrations in the dev channel, there is greater potential (short-term) for impact to Start11.
There are minor differences in how the apps are serviced.
Tuesday, September 6, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
Last month, we made both Fences 4 and Start11 available on Steam. The release of our software on Steam was the end of a long journey that required us to rework how our applications are updated; if you're wondering what’s the difference between buying an app on Steam or directly from Stardock, fear not: this post will answer that question.
The short answer is: not much. Practically speaking, apps on Steam and Stardock are identical to the end user, but under the hood there are some differences that may influence where you decide to purchase the application.
Apps on Stardock are wholly supported internally and serviced through our own software stack. Meaning that the software is downloaded, licensed, and supported directly by our team in Plymouth, Michigan.
Apps purchased on Steam are managed slightly differently. When we push an update for apps purchased on Stardock, you are downloading the bits directly from us. When you purchase an app on Steam, the updates are served from Steam and the license is managed via Steam as well.
One question we are frequently asked is: if you buy an app via Steam, does Steam need to be open for it to run? The answer is no, but when the app needs to be updated Steam will need to be opened for that download to initiate.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you purchase an app on Steam, that license will not work with apps downloaded from Stardock. The inverse is true as well because both systems use different licensing mechanisms. If you want to return an app, you are limited to Steam's policies for returns, not Stardock's. Steam's terms are more restrictive than what we offer here at Stardock.
What it really boils down to is that you should buy the apps where it best suits your needs. If you purchase many of your applications or games via Steam, that is likely the best way to buy Start11 or Fences 4. But if you are not a heavy user of Steam, buying direct is the best path forward.
New languages and fewer bugs
Tuesday, August 23, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
This week, we shipped an update to Fences 4 that brings enhancements to translations, as well as a number of bug fixes. If you haven’t been prompted to download the update yet, you can manually check in the application or download a fresh install from your Stardock account.
Fences now supports some new languages, including Korean, Chinese-traditional, Portuguese-Brazil, and more. To see the full list, check out our changelog! Users running fences on Windows Server 2016 will see improved stability with this update, too.
Fences is the best way to keep your desktop organized! With our innovative Peek feature, Fences is absolutely the fastest way to access your PC's content while working inside another application. Fences 4 is used by tens of thousands of consumers and hundreds of corporations every day to improve their workflow – and you can try it free for 30 days.
As with all of our applications, your feedback is what drives our updates and new features. If you have an idea for Fences - or any of our products - we would love to hear from you.
Add Fences 4 to your Wishlist today
Tuesday, August 16, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Start News
Earlier this month, we released Start11 on Steam. With that milestone now behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to Fences 4. In the coming weeks, Fences 4 will arrive on Steam - but you can add it to your wishlist now.
We still have a couple of hurdles that we need to cross, but seeing as we piloted our new course for shipping applications on Steam with Start11, we expect that Fences 4 will follow a similar trajectory. That being said, unforeseen issues can always arise, but we are confident that at this point in the preparation process, we are closer to the finish line than the starting point.
If you are wondering why Fences 4 didn't launch on Steam when it first released, it's because Steam requires specific processes to flow through its infrastructure. These requirements, which were new for Fences 4 (but not Fences 3), required us to re-work how updating and purchasing functions for the app.
With Start11 out and our new deployment solution working as expected, Fences 4 will be arriving on Steam soon.
After the release of Fences 4 and Start11 on Steam, we expect future product releases to have a tighter window from their availability on Stardock and being released on Steam. We believe the heavy lifting of the migration to Steam is now behind us and look forward to building new solutions in the months ahead.
The easiest way to resell Stardock software
Tuesday, August 2, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Start News
For years, Stardock has offered an affiliate program that allows our partners to re-sell Stardock products and earn a commission each time a transaction occurs. Since the platform we used for this was a bit outdated, we re-worked the foundation earlier this summer and are ready to reboot the program with a new foundation.
Today, our affiliate program is up and running using Impact, which provides robust tracking and dashboarding capabilities. To register as an affiliate, join the platform using the link below, create a tracking link, and then share it with your audience. It's quick and easy!
Sign Up: Stardock Affiliate Program
Once you have been accepted into the program, you will have access to a dashboard that tracks clicks and sales; the dashboard is updated daily, but not in real-time.
If you were participating in our previous affiliate program, make sure to check your email for a message from me. You will need to switch over to our new program in order to continue participating.
We are still in the early stages of uploading all the assets that can help you promote various Stardock products, but if you have any specific requests, make sure to message us via the built-in messaging.
The solution we are announcing today is where we will be investing for the foreseeable future for most resellers of our products. But, we also do provide discounts through our wholesaler program; if you are interested in going this route, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the many ways to use Fences
Thursday, July 28, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Start News
We talk to customers every week about how they are using our products to help us develop the next wave of updates. We hear about how Start11 is used to standardize desktops across various endpoints, but the uses for Fences vary from simple file organization to advanced auto-sorting of documents as they arrive for outside parties.
I want to talk about how I have been using Fences 4 as we continue to expand the scope of initiatives that we are undertaking. If you weren’t familiar, we recently added another developer to our team, which means more projects are moving along much faster and organization is essential to our success.
On my desktop, I keep Fences sorted by projects that are actively in-flight. While the desktop image in this post is using mock files, the idea for creating the image came from how my desktop is actually sorted with two active project files, quarterly documents for reporting, and a folder portal for access to my Stardock OneDrive folder.
The key is keeping project files sorted into their respective Fences, which I do by affixing the name of the project at the end of the file. For example, in one scenario you have Marketing Start11 and Marketing Fences4.
Keeping my project files organized on my desktop significantly reduces the amount of time I spend hunting for a specific file related to a project that is in motion. The auto-sorting rules mean as long as I keep up the habit of my naming convention, I will always know where my files will be located.
While this methodology may not work for everyone, it has proven valuable in organizations where files are specific to projects; we have seen Fences used like this in law offices, manufacturing, and healthcare.
We would love to know how you use Fences to keep your desktop organized. Are you keeping icons grouped, PDFs auto-sorted, or simply mirroring your Download folder to the desktop? Let us know in the comments.
A few enhancements that make using Start11 easier
Tuesday, July 19, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Start News
This week, we are releasing a new update for Start11 that brings the version number to 1.25. To make the product compatible with our upcoming WindowBlinds 11 release, we're adding a few minor features.
v1.25 contains two quality of life (QOL) improvements:
- Using the scroll wheel, you can now navigate pages on supported menus
- When searching, you can now see the path for files and documents via tooltips.
Along with the new features, there are numerous bug fixes as well.
As I said above, this update is meant to make Start11 compatible with WindowBlinds 11. We don't have a release date for WindowBlinds 11 yet, but this version update puts us a step closer toward releasing our first beta for it. Stay tuned!
If you have not purchased Start11 yet because you are waiting for it to arrive on Steam, we have made good progress in preparing the app for that platform. We have a wishlist page up here - the application should be available on Steam soon.
We have been testing this Start11 build with our beta testers for a few weeks, but if you run into any issues with this update please make sure to file feedback in our support threads for tracking. If you want to learn how to opt into our beta release, you can find that information here.
Grab our best productivity apps at a discount
Tuesday, June 28, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
It’s that time of the year when we are applying lots of sunscreen, the lightning bugs are filling up the backyards, and... our software is on sale. That’s right, friends: for the first time since they released, Start11 and Fences 4 are on sale.
If you have been thinking about buying Start11 or Fences 4, the multi-device packs are on sale for 10% off their standard pricing. This offer is only for a limited time, which means you'll need to act fast to save on our most popular software.
Fences 4 is a significant upgrade over Fences 3 and brings with it many new features. The most noteworthy addition is Peek. Using this innovative feature, you can bring your Fences to the top of your other applications, allowing you to easily access content without breaking your workflow.
Start11 is the best way to customize your Windows 11 (and Windows 10) desktop by taking full control of your Start menu and taskbar. If you miss ungrouped windows on your taskbar, Start11 brings that functionality back. It can make Windows 10 look like Windows 11, or make Windows 11 look like Windows 10.
Start11 and Fences 4 are the newest applications in our productivity tools portfolio and are already enjoyed by tens of thousands of users every day. Our multi-device packs make it easier to keep your all your desktops optimized with both of these powerful apps.
It will arrive this summer on your favorite platform
Tuesday, June 21, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
Start11 is the industry's best Start menu - and it will soon be available on Steam! Since the release of the application late last year, we have heard your feedback and are happy to announce that we are in the final stages of making it ready to purchase on that marketplace.
As of today, you can now add Start11 to your Steam wishlist so you can be notified when it becomes available. We don’t have an exact date for release yet, but we anticipate that it will be sometime this summer.
If you are wondering why Start11 didn't launch on Steam when it first released, it's because Steam requires specific processes to flow through its infrastructure. These requirements, which were new for Start11 (but not Start10), required us to re-work how updating and purchasing functions for the app.
But there's some good news: we have a solution in place! This solution should be transferable to all of our current and upcoming applications, but we still have a few more hoops to jump through to officially make Start11 available for sale on Steam.
We will also begin exploring bringing our applications to other storefronts - like the Microsoft store - later this summer. Given that we are a small team, we have to be conscious about where and how we spend our time, as each new location selling our products requires dedicated support and maintenance. That being said, Microsoft has made it much easier to bring apps to its store, which improves the odds of bringing our productivity tools to that marketplace.