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DeskScapes 11: A Sneak Peek

Thursday, December 31, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Stardock Blog

Happy almost New Year, everyone! I have a little treat for you before we go on break here at Stardock: that’s right, I have a sneak peek at the new DeskScapes!

I have to say, even though there are a few features that aren’t completely hooked up yet, what I’ve seen so far of DeskScapes 11 is pretty darn cool. Let’s have a look at what’s coming!

New UI

The new UI makes for an all-around better browsing experience. You can browse for backgrounds using “categories”, “authors”, or “latest” as filters. You can also toggle easily between animated and static wallpaper tabs so you can find exactly what you’re looking for!

I love the completely in-app browsing experience. It makes it easy to discover things I wouldn’t have otherwise thought to search for, and I appreciate not having to spend a bunch of time guessing search words or clicking through hundreds of web pages.

Playlists

This is totally awesome: now you can create “playlists” for a series of DeskScapes backgrounds - animated or static! - to rotate through on your PC. You can set a timer for every time you turn on your PC, which gives you a nice surprise every time you log in, or you can make it so that the image changes after a certain amount of time, from as little as thirty seconds to as much as several hours.

I have a couple of playlists created here - one full of animated backgrounds and one full of Final Fantasy XIV screenshots - that I can rotate through. This feature, along with a few others, isn’t fully implemented yet, but when it is I’ll see what I can do about maybe doing a little video tour of the app for all of you.

DeskScapes Creator

You’ve always been able to create your own custom Dreams, but DeskScapes 11 makes the experience much smoother. The DeskScapes creator lets you choose an image of your own - or one already within DeskScapes - and adjust it with plenty of tools and tweaks. You can get as particular as you like, and it’s convenient and easy to use.

Effects

As other versions have before, DeskScapes 11 comes with an impressive array of applicable effects for your backgrounds. You can sort through the effects easily thanks to the new UI, layer multiple effects, and see previews before you even hit ‘apply.’

Well, that’s it: a little tour of what we’ve been working on! DeskScapes 11 is coming soon, so keep an eye here on the forums for more sneak peeks and announcements leading up to the release! And of course if you’re an Object Desktop member, you’ll get beta access to try it out before anyone else does as soon as we’re ready to release a beta for the public.

If you have any questions, please toss them in the comments below and I’ll make sure to pass them along to our software team. Until next time, have a safe and wonderful holiday season, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Star Wars is Copyright © Lucas Films Limited

Wishing the WC Community, a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 31, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: WinCustomize News

On behalf of the teams at WinCustomize and Stardock, we'd like to wish our fantastic community a Happy New Year!

2020 has been an.....interesting......year, so let's look forward to 2021 and make it a great one!

Do you have any New Year plans?

How can forums compete with Reddit?

Friday, December 25, 2020 by Frogboy | Discussion: Everything Else

I'll be honest with you.  I spend a lot of time on Reddit.   

One can see a direct correlation between the rice of Reddit (and to a lesser extent Twitter and Facebook) and the fall of blogs and forums.

And I think that's a shame because the nice thing about forums is that you get to know the regulars and there are many nice features on forums that Reddit doesn't have.

Still, the UI on many forums, including ours, is not as good as I'd like to see.  Which makes me wonder, what would it take to make forums more competitive to Reddit? What would they need for you to come visit more?

One reason I ask is that over the next 18 months Stardock is going to be releasing a lot of stuff and we'd like to get our forums in shape to hopefully offer a fun and useful place to spend time at.  

In 2020, we did a number of behind the scenes updates that regulars might have noticed (for instance, the entire backend got a huge upgrade making everything much faster).  But there's a lot of UX stuff that we don't have a consistent opinion on which shows. 

So we're asking you, what are 5 things you would do to these forums that would make you and other more inclined to visit?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: WinCustomize News

We wanted to send a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our wonderful members! We hope you have and enjoyable holiday, and we'll see you back in the new year!

Thank you for being part of our great community!

 

Looking Back on Object Desktop 2020

Let's take a look at the major updates to Object Desktop this year

Wednesday, December 23, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Stardock Blog

As 2020 draws to a close (I thought it would never end, to be honest!) I thought we would take a look back on Object Desktop and all of the great apps and updates we’ve added this year. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Object Desktop, it’s a suite of desktop enhancement apps that lets you completely customize your Windows experience. It has several award-winning applications - including Fences, Groupy, and Multiplicity - and will completely transform the way you use your PC.

New to Object Desktop this year

SoundPackager 10

Back in February, we released the newest version of SoundPackager and added it into the Object Desktop suite. 

If you’re tired of the Windows default sounds, SoundPackager 10 lets you instantly change them with high quality and cohesive sound packages. It comes already pre-loaded with several high quality packages, or you can download some more on WinCustomize

SoundPackager itself isn’t new, but SoundPackager 10 came with some great updates, not the least of which is full compatibility for Windows 10. It included lots of all-new sound packages and an in-app editor so that you can create your own sound packages.

 

CursorFX

On April 8th, we released our newest version of CursorFX and added it to Object Desktop. 

With CursorFX, you can create your own cursors, animate cursors using special effects, and add custom mouse click sounds. You can apply skins, shadows, motion trails, and sounds to your cursor easily. 

We released the beta to all Object Desktop users so that they could try it out before anyone else. We made sure that it had support for Windows 10 and high DPI monitors so that your cursors can look the best. CursorFX also supports 144hz or higher refreshes, and includes cursors that take advantage of these features. 

 

Curtains

We made a big addition to Object Desktop back in July with Curtains, a customization tool that lets you apply new styles to your desktop that are along the lines of Dark and Light Modes to Windows 10.

Using Curtains, you can add new styles to your desktop that enhance and change the entire look and feel of the Windows UI and apps that already support light and dark mode. You can create and share your own styles, browse through and download tons more on WinCustomize, and adjust hundreds of other small elements in Windows. 

One of my favorite things about Curtains is being able to customize the Start button, title bar buttons, and title bar. I can mess with font faces and sizes, pick out more detailed color choices, and so much more. 

Curtains v1.1 added a pretty major feature: blur and transparency effects! 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 above, 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 here. The cool thing about this update and these features is that you can apply them to any of the styles you download from WinCustomize or already have within the app itself. You can also see Groupy in action and how nicely it integrates with Curtains. Which leads us to one of our next major updates we made this year...

 

Other Object Desktop apps updated this year

Last, but certainly not least, we had several different updates release over the year for various apps in the suite. Some of them were small, community requested updates or quality of life adjustments, but others were fairly substantial.

Groupy

Groupy isn’t new to Object Desktop, but we implemented a major v1.4 update back in August that introduced full integration with the Curtains app. This update made it so that aspects of Groupy blended seamlessly with whatever style you have set to your PC. 

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.

 

Start10

We updated Start10 back in August with some UI changes to better accommodate Curtains. We fixed some crashing issues and tweaked how blur is handled in the menu so that we could address a mixed DPI setup issue. We also made sure to correct the missing control panel search entries on the 2004 Windows build.

 

Multiplicity

Multiplicity's update improved performance for your PC when it's under heavy load from other processes and added messages informing you of potential incompatibilities with Clipboard sharing across devices and VirtualBox. We knew that a lot of our users worked on machines with mixed DPI setups, so we included fixes to account for that. Additionally, we added the ability to Flush DNS right from the Multiplicity UI and fixed some issues for users who had Swap Mouse Buttons enabled.

 

Thanks for a great year!

We actively listen to community feedback and will often make updates based on what users have requested. We appreciate all of you and how much you’ve used and helped us evaluate and perfect our software over the years.

What’s been one of your favorite updates or additions to the Object Desktop suite? If you’re not an Object Desktop member yet, you can get a membership here

Have a safe and happy New Year!

Show Us Your Holiday Desktops!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: WinCustomize News

The Christmas and the rest of the holiday season is just about here, and we've been talking about and featuring holiday skins for weeks! So now lets show off those holiday creations and see what beautiful seasonal desktops you have displayed!

Head over to our December screenshot thread and post your holiday desktop!

December Holiday Desktop Thread

Screenshot by Chasbo

 

Stardockians show off their holiday spirit with a virtual ugly sweater contest!

We usually do this in person, but you know...pandemic.

Friday, December 18, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Life, the Universe and Everything

Seasons Greetings, everyone! All of us here at Stardock are wrapping up our work for 2020 as we prepare to go on our holiday break next week, but that doesn't mean we haven't made sure to fit some festivity into our days. 

Normally, we'd be a'wassailing at our holiday party together right now, but for obvious reasons, we're skipping that this year. Instead, we decided to share some cheer from our home offices by displaying our merriment in the form of ugly sweaters. Here are the results:

 

I'll just start off by saying that I bought this sweater and skirt getup last year right after Christmas and have been waiting all year for this moment. The tinsel-laden mask I found at Five Below was, I thought, an entertaining touch.

Debbie, from our operations team, went all-in with this festive sweater and adorable Christmas leggings! I love the fun tree glasses and the elf hat, too.

William from the games team sports a fantastic sweater depicting an epic battle! Honestly, I love how the "ugly sweater" design has taken off in all sorts of fandoms and hobbies over the years.

Jillian, my partner-in-crime from the marketing team, found this "cool Santa" sweater and I am digging it! The matching stuffed Santa and over-the-top Christmas tree hat make this a pretty fantastic ensemble. 

Raeann, another critical member of our operations team, is feline fine (I'm not sorry about the pun) in this adorable cat sweater, complete with actual shoulder cat! I'm jealous both of the sweater itself and the fact that she can get her cat to sit like that. Mine would beat me up.

We had some great sweaters, but in the end someone had to win, and it was Jillian! Raeann came in a respectable second place, followed by me netting the third place victory. I'm excited about the really cute Ugly Sweater ornaments that Alex from our games team printed up for us!

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year! Stay safe, stay healthy, and we'll see you all in 2021!

DeskScapes: Simple, Fancy, and Everything in Between

Thursday, December 17, 2020 by Tatiora | Discussion: Stardock Blog

I have seen quite a lot of desktop backgrounds over the years from all manner of friends and family. Heck, I remember as far back as one of my family’s first PCs, a Packard Bell, that we excitedly bought a screensaver and background software for so that we could have aquarium fishes swimming around when we idled.

I mention the above mostly to point out a pretty obvious fact: everyone has different tastes. There’s no right or wrong way to customize your desktop - and, whether you’re looking for something fancy or a little more simplistic, DeskScapes will have something for everyone.

Recently, I talked a little bit about Fences and how I use it - combined with DeskScapes - to segment my two monitors during my stint working from home. One of the most important elements to that mental separation of “work monitor” and “play monitor” for me was having two different desktop backgrounds, something that is made possible thanks to DeskScapes.

DeskScapes offers plenty of other desktop customization options beyond just changing backgrounds on each of your monitors. Let’s take a look at a few of our most popular desktop backgrounds on WinCustomize and see how we can tweak additional effects to make them just right.

Currently, this is how my two monitors look:

I am using two different static image backgrounds - one of them is a screenshot from Final Fantasy XIV, a favorite game of mine, and the other is a cool image I got from the Windows Backgrounds gallery. I headed over to WinCustomize.com and took a look through some of the most popular Dream downloads there and selected a couple of them to play around with.

Now, these backgrounds happen to be animated, so please know that I can’t fully do them justice with just a static image. I chose the Dream in the #1 spot of “most popular downloads of all time,”  “Big Blue Sea HD” by sntXrrr, and applied it to my first monitor.

This works just fine on its own, of course, but I did say we would be playing around with effects, didn’t I? I scrolled through the options and eventually settled on trying out the rainbow filter because, I admit it, I like lots of color. 

There are options for sepia, textured, static noise, and so much more. You can also combine multiple effects in most circumstances, creating a truly custom look that’s perfect for you.

People have said to me in the past that DeskScapes wouldn’t be useful to them because they don’t really like the idea of having animated wallpapers because they prefer something simpler. That’s all well and good, but DeskScapes can actually be just as useful for customizing static backgrounds as it is for applying and altering animated ones.

As an example here (again - it’s tough to show animation with a screenshot), I’ve taken a screenshot from my game and applied it to my desktop background. Then, using deskscapes, I applied a couple of different effects - snow, which is animated overtop the image, and textured, to give it a different look. 

There are tons of different effects you can layer on your own images in order to create something truly unique! As I mentioned above, there are thousands of options on WinCustomize.com - you can always look there for both animated and static backgrounds. Below, I’ve linked a couple of our most popular downloads so you can see them for yourself.

What do you keep on your desktop’s background? Share with me!

Top WinCustomize Dreams for DeskScapes

#1 - Big Blue Sea HD by sntXrrr

#2 - Future World by zonester

#3 - Wasserfall by peter22

#4 - Aquarium II by amitsaran

#5 - Waterfall by stephenvw

Favorite Holiday WindowBlinds Skins for Your Desktop

Monday, December 14, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: WinCustomize News

Just a couple of weeks until Christmas! Today I wanted to feature some of the fantastic holiday WindowBlinds skins we have here on WinCustomize. We have quite a few with a variety of styles and colors, so I'm sure you'll be able to find one you like!

 

Christmas Joy by LightStar

 

Snoopy Xmas by don5318

 

Plastic Fantastic Christmas Edition

 

GingerBreadHouse by DaveBax

 

Christmas Holidays v2 by adni18

WC Community Question: What's Your Favorite Skin or Theme?

Friday, December 11, 2020 by Island Dog | Discussion: OS Customization

Happy December! The holiday season is here, and we've been talking about holiday skins for the past couple of months. Now that many of us have our holiday desktops in order, let's find out what the favorite holiday skins of our community are!

What's my favorite? There are many wonderful holiday WindowBlinds skin out there, but I always appreciate the design of Christmas Holidays by adni18

Post a link or image of your favorite holiday skin or theme in the comments below and lets share our favorites!

 

 

 

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