More refined, more options
Today we are releasing the second beta for Groupy 2. With this update, we have introduced a couple of new options, smashed some bugs, and are marching toward the official 1.0 release later this month.
If you have already purchased Groupy 2, you will be prompted soon to upgrade your build to the latest version. If you have yet to purchase Groupy 2, you can learn more about the app on our page here.
So what’s new in this release? You can view the full changelog here but there are two specific items I want to highlight as they were updates based on direct feedback from our users.
The first new feature that is now available is the ability to adjust the tab background bar colors for focused and unfocused views. This is my favorite update as the Mica style looks fantastic and with this feature, you can now make it so that the tab bar always shows the Mica style rather than it only showing when the window is in focus.
To customize the tab bar, click on Tab colors from the settings panel -> Tab and background bar colors and then configure the options to your desired preference.
The second new feature with Groupy 2 is that you can now disable the Groupy 2 icon in the tab bar. To do this, in the settings panel, click Tab appearance -> Advanced tab settings and the toggle will be the second from the bottom option.
If you haven’t given Groupy 2 a try yet, I highly recommend that you do. Once you experience the ability to group your applications by task (such as different email inboxes) or type (all your Office apps grouped), you will never be able to live without it.
And as always, if you have any feedback about features you would like to see come to Groupy 2, make sure to let us know as we have already included several updates based on your suggestions.
A fresh take on a classic Windows XP style
Thursday, June 8, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: WindowBlinds News
When we released WindowBlinds 11 last year, we knew that retro themes would be a popular style for many of our users. After all, we now include several out of the box like a Windows classic design, a Windows XP style, and even a throwback Macintosh style too.
But what would a fresh take of Windows XP look like, one with modern design elements applied but to that the classic OS? Enter, Fluent Luna.
Fluent Luna takes our classic Luna skin for WindowBlinds 11 but enhances it in all the right places with gradients and updated elements to make it look a bit more modern but without sacrificing the core characteristics that make Luna a favorite skin of our community.
And like all of our recent retro skins, this will soon be included out of the box for new purchases of WindowBlinds 11, and for existing users, you can download it here. And if you are using Start11, you’ll be able to choose from Windows 7, Windows 10, and Windows 11 style Fluent Luna Start Menus.
WindowBlinds 11 is the easiest way to personalize your desktop. With thousands of skins to choose from and a robust set of customization options, you can stylize any skin to your exact specification. And if there is a skin that doesn’t exist that you want to build, SkinStudio is included with each purchase so that you can build your perfect interface.
If you don’t have WindowBlinds 11, you can learn more about it on the app page and it is also included in ObjectDesktop which is the easiest way to access our best customization and productivity tools with a single purchase.
Add it to your Wishlist today!
Friday, May 26, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog
A few weeks back, we announced our newest application, Groupy 2. Groupy 2 is the easiest way to add tabs to nearly every application and it looks and operates like a native Windows experience. While you can download the app today from our store, we know that many of our customers like to purchase our applications on Steam.
Starting today, you can now add Groupy 2 to your Wishlist on Steam for when the application becomes available on the platform in the coming weeks.
Groupy 2 is the easiest way to manage all of your open windows on Windows 10 and 11. By adding the familiar tab functionality that you experience in the browser to all of your applications, it is easy to keep keep your windows organized.
Looking to make it easier to identify an app at a glance? With Accents, you can add a splash of color that makes it easy to identify a tab quickly by type, task, or deadline. Or if you want to rename a tab, Groupy 2’s personalization options let you configure the tab experience that best fits your workflow.
Groupy 2 is in active development and we are working on additional updates for the application. If you have any feedback about what you would like to see in a future release, make sure to let us know in our forums.
Adding Tabs to Everything
Wednesday, May 17, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog
Last week, we released Groupy 2 and if you haven’t taken it for a spin yet, you can find all the details about the new app here. Getting started with Groupy 2 is easy as once the app is running it’s a drag-and-drop experience but fine-tuning how the application works best for you can be a bit of a journey.
When getting started with the new application, the configuration panel is where you will find the general options for the application. But there is a secondary location that allows you to configure how each group is displayed and this panel lets you easily add Accents to a tab.
After creating your first group, in the left corner of the Groupy bar, you will see a small Groupy 2 icon with a down arrow. Clicking that arrow will let you customize how a specific group can be personalized.
It is from this dropdown that you can add an accent color to a tab, rename a tab, save a group, pin a group to the taskbar, and a lot more. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend you add Accents to your tabs as it makes them easy to identify at a glance.
The settings within Groupy 2 are robust but I wanted to call out a couple of them specifically as they are my preferred way of using the application. Of course, how I use it may differ from your desired options, but this is how I get the most out of Groupy 2 for my workflow.
The first option I always change from the default experience is to make it so that Groupy 2 doesn’t try to group apps unless I am holding down a modifier key. I typically use the control button which means that when dragging a window onto another, when I hold control, the Groupy 2 experience lights up and makes it possible to group the apps together.
To enable this feature, in the Groupy 2 configuration panel, go to Grouping settings and the option is under “Manual grouping by dragging settings”.
The reason I prefer this method is that, while the default experience to hold an app over another for a short bit of time to enable the grouping experience is easy, this keeps me from accidentally grouping apps on rare occasions. If you are wondering why we don’t enable this experience by default, that’s because the discoverability of the functionality for onboarding would require more upfront communication.
The other feature that I turn off by default is the “Show a Groupy bar when the mouse moves over the top of a title bar while not in a group”. Keeping this setting enabled is optimal for users who are getting started with Groupy 2 as it notifies the user with a visual cue that the app can be grouped easily but after becoming comfortable with the mechanism, I turn it off.
Once you get used to having tabs for every window on your desktop, you will wonder how you ever lived without them. I find them especially useful when working with productivity apps like Word or Excel but would love to know how you are using Groupy 2.
Make an Older OS Look Modern with Start11
Thursday, May 4, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Start News
What feels like nearly an eternity ago (but was really only a couple of years back), Microsoft announced Windows 11 and started shipping it not long after that. One of the big changes, aside from the visual update, was that there would only be one major update per year.
This was a significant change from the Windows 10 era where the company was pushing two major updates per year. For the most part, it was well received within the Windows community - but as we are all now aware, the company has done the exact opposite.
Windows 10 Running Start11
Today, Microsoft is shipping feature updates whenever they want and it’s quite hard to keep track of whether a feature is in the canary, dev, beta, or release preview. If that wasn't tricky enough, they are also enabling users to be the first to receive updates within the stable branch as yet another way to test updates before they hit the wider general population.
Even though the update cadence for Windows 11 is headed towards a more chaotic state, there is a bit of a reprieve if you are ok with running Windows 10. As Paul Thurrott puts it: “Microsoft Finally Gave Us What We Wanted … But With Windows 10”.
Microsoft has stated that Windows 10, 22H2, will be the final feature update for the OS. This means that if you want to run a version of Windows that is fully supported and won’t be updated erratically, then Windows 10 is a viable option until its support ends in 2025.
What if you like the look of Windows 11, but want to stay on Windows 10? That can easily be accomplished with Start11 and WindowBlinds 11 (both of these apps can run on Windows 10). This also works exceptionally well if you are one of the many Windows 10 users who cannot upgrade to Windows 11 because your PC does not meet the baseline requirements.
For those of us who desire a stable version of Windows - without the trouble of trying to run an LTSC branch as your daily driver - Microsoft just delivered a big win for its users. Rolling back to Windows 10 may not be for everyone, as Microsoft will pester you quite a bit to upgrade to Windows 11, but if you truly want a supported Windows experience that doesn’t change, Microsoft finally has an answer for you.
Where will new ads show up next?
Tuesday, April 18, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Start News
For years, Microsoft has been carefully toeing the line of including advertisements promotions inside of the Start menu, File Explorer, and Office applications. While some may argue that promoting your own products inside of your applications isn’t an advertisement, it’s certainly an annoyance - especially when you do not have the ability to permanently turn off these messages.
As I write this blog post in Word, there is a banner at the top asking me to download OneDrive, which I already have on my mobile device - this very file is even saved there as well! But, let’s not let the semantics of already using OneDrive - which Microsoft knows I am already using - stop them from telling me to use OneDrive.
But why stop at Word? Microsoft has already forced the “recommendation” section inside of the Start menu, and this month it has become apparent that they will continue to push more promotional material into the Start menu experience.
The latest flavor of “ads” that are showing up inside Windows 11 will appear in the shutdown menu. Take a look at the image below. Courtesy of Microsoft, you can see the different ways the company plans to incorporate its new messaging in a place that should not have any messaging at all.
Start11 removes these advertisements - or messaging, or whatever you want to call them - from your Windows 11 experience. While we didn’t build Start11 to be an adblocker, it’s becoming apparent that Microsoft has no plans of slowing down how they will inject corporate messaging into the OS.
So, how does Start11 work? It's pretty simple, actually. Once you install the utility, it replaces the default Windows Start menu with our own customizable version. This new Start menu not only offers a variety of different styles, but it also comes with a bunch of customization options that let you tweak it to the desired specification.
The best part about Start11 is that it completely removes ads from the Start menu. No more sponsored apps or suggested downloads - just a clean, ad-free experience that lets you focus on what's important: getting stuff done.
While we don’t know where the next advertisement in Windows 11 will show up, know that if you are running Start11, you won’t have to worry about it appearing in the Start menu.
You can learn more about Start11 here.
Improvements for multimonitor support and touch input
Tuesday, April 4, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Start News
Today, we released Start11 v1.43. Within this update are improvements for users with dual monitors, touch input enhancements, and more.
The update is starting to roll out now for users who purchased the app directly from Stardock. If you don’t see it yet, you can find it by opening the configuration panel, clicking about, and searching for an update. For users who purchased Start11 on Steam, an update should be arriving in the next couple of days, too.
With this release, you will see improvements for scenarios that involve multiple monitors, enhancements for users who use touch-first navigation, and better alignment with the Winkey+X menu appearing in the desired location.
There is one new feature as well, but it’s a small one. If you are running Windows 11 22H2 with the Moment 2 update installed, small with wide icon spacing is a taskbar size option. As the name implies, it adds a bit of padding around the icons.
As with all of our releases, they first start out in our beta channel and typically go through several iterations before release. If you run into any hiccups with v1.43, please let us know in our feedback forum so that we can properly track any unintended scenarios with this release.
If you haven’t purchased Start11 yet, make sure to head on over to our app page which has all the details about the many features that make Start11 the industry’s most advanced Start menu.
Create your perfect desktop interface with SkinStudio, now available on Steam
Wednesday, March 22, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
Attention all customization enthusiasts! Stardock’s SkinStudio, the ultimate tool for creating and editing Windows desktop themes, is now available on Steam. This powerful software lets you personalize your Windows experience like never before. With an intuitive interface and a vast library of resources, SkinStudio is the perfect platform for both beginners and experienced designers.
For anyone who has purchased WindowBlinds 11 on Steam, the application is available as a free download (DLC) starting today.
Stardock SkinStudio allows you to create and edit Windows desktop themes, also known as skins. With this software, you can customize the appearance of Windows 10/11, including the Start menu, taskbar, window frames, and more. SkinStudio has a user-friendly interface and a wide range of tools and resources to help you create unique and visually appealing themes for your desktop whether you start from scratch or decide to modify an existing theme.
WindowBlinds 11 is the best way to personalize your desktop. The addition of SkinStudio gives you all the tools needed to create the perfect desktop interface that fits your exact specifications.
Once you have your perfect theme created, you can share it with the world on Wincustomize, where there is a community of enthusiasts actively building new themes.
Fences 4, Start11, and More at a Great Price
Thursday, March 16, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
As the snow starts to melt and spring slowly starts to arrive, why not kick off your spring cleaning with a bit of digital decluttering? There’s no better time than today to check out our two most popular apps, Start11 and Fences 4, both of which are on sale right now.
Start11 is an app that allows you to customize the Start menu on your Windows 10 and Windows 11 computer. With Start11, you can change the color, size, and style of the Start menu, as well as add your own custom Start icon and backgrounds. And with four different styles to choose from, you can make your desktop a more personalized experience.
Fences 4 is a program that helps you organize your desktop icons into customizable "containers" called fences. You can create as many fences as you need, and then drag and drop your icons into them. Fences 4 also includes a feature called "Quick Hide," which allows you to hide all of your desktop icons with a single click, giving you a clean slate to work with. You can also use a folder portal to streamline access to your cloud drives, too.
Both Start11 and Fences 4 are incredibly useful programs that will help improve your workflow and make your desktop feel a bit more personalized. Right now they're both on sale for 25% off, so there's never been a better time to try them out.
If you have multiple computers, Multiplicity is the unsung hero of multi-device interoperability. If you want to interact with multiple computers with a single mouse and keyboard, this app is the one didn’t even know you needed.
Many of our products are on sale for the next couple of days, so make sure to check them out before the sale ends on 3/23/23 at 1PM ET.
Making Start11 compatibility with Microsoft's latest update
Tuesday, March 7, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
Today we are releasing Start11 v1.41 which makes Start11 ready for the next big update that Microsoft is shipping for Windows 11. Called KB5022913 or Moment 2, this release is currently available to anyone who is actively looking for new Windows Updates, but it will be pushed more aggressively starting on March 14th.
March 14th - often referred to as Patch Tuesday - is when we initially expected KB5022913 to be released, but since it went out early we expedited the work to get this patch out well ahead of schedule. You should be able to download this release today if you like, but it will be rolling out to our users over the next couple of days, too.
For our Steam users, you should also see an update coming to your device as well. We have pushed the update to Steam and it will prompt you for an install as it rolls out.
The entire changelog for this release can be found here. If you run into any issues, please post them in our feedback thread. We also ask that if you are going to post any bugs, please make sure that you identify which version of Windows you are running and the build number.
While there are not any new features in this release, it is a significant update under the hood as it brings compatibility to Microsoft’s latest updates to the taskbar and system tray.
Start11 is the best way to enhance your Windows 11 (and Windows 10) desktop experience. We are frequently shipping updates and adding new features.
If there is something you would like to see in our next update, let us know in the comments below.