Bug fixes, localization, and more
Monday, December 4, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Fences News
Today we are releasing a new update for Fences 5 that improves stability while squashing bugs. If you're eager to get your hands on the latest version, the update is currently being rolled out and can be manually checked for by accessing the Fences 5 configuration panel.
To get the update immediately, navigate to "About" and select "Check for Updates."
With this update, we are moving closer to dropping the Release Preview tag from Fences 5. In this update, there are improvements to localization, snapshots are now more resilient to monitor ID changes when the snapshot is saved vs loaded, fixes for Fence spacing in the config menu, and a lot more.
Fences 5 is the best way to keep your desktop organized. With powerful features that automatically sort files into a fence on your desktop to Folder Portals allow you to mirror any folder to your desktop, once you experience Fences, it will quickly become a core part of your workflow.
New translations are here and lots of bug fixes too
Tuesday, November 21, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Start News
Today we are releasing an updated build of Start11 v2 with new translations and bug fixes. The update is rolling out now and will be arriving on your machine in the near future.
If you don’t want to wait for the update to reach your device, open the Start11 app, click on “About” and then manually check for an update. Or if you are an Object Desktop subscriber, you can also download it through the Object Desktop Manager.
With this release, we are updating many of our translations for Start11 v2 which will provide a better experience for those using the application with a language other than English. Did you know that if you want to contribute to the translations, we have all of the language files on GitHub?
Many of our community members have contributed to updating our translations and we are always looking for additional help. If you have primary or second language expertise, you can help make Start11 better for everyone.
Along with the updated translations, we have squashed many bugs as reported by our users. You can view the entire changelog here. And if you run into any issues with this release, make sure to let us know in our forums.
An all-new desktop experience with Chameleon™
Monday, November 20, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog
Introducing Fences 5, the best tool for organizing your workflow on Windows, is taking a giant leap forward this week. With new features designed to reduce desktop distractions, easier-to-access Peek, and advanced tooling for enterprise deployments, Fences 5 is once again raising the bar on keeping your Windows desktop organized.
New with Fences 5 is Chameleon™ an experience for the desktop that allows you to blend your icons, apps, and folders, into your desktop wallpaper while retaining full legibility and functionality. With Chameleon™, your desktop content becomes less of a distraction while working on your tasks, and with a full range of customization options, you can dial in the exact desktop experience to keep your content organized while minimizing your distractions.
Also new in Fences 5 is a taskbar toggle for the patented Peek™ functionality. Peek™ is the fastest way to access your Fence groups and with the new taskbar toggle, it is now even easier to access peek. With a simple click on the icon, you can now enable Peek™ with your mouse to help you stay in your flow.
For those who don’t want to add the toggle to the taskbar, Fences 5 has a new option where you can enhance the “show desktop” button on the taskbar that is next to the system tray. With the new option enabled, you can change the default behavior of this button to be either a left or right-click to Peek™.
Fences is used in many industries from Education to Healthcare and to help our enterprise customers deploy and manage their fleet of desktops, Fences 5 has new functionality that is deigned to make it easier to capture configurations and load them on login.
New with Fences 5 for Business, is the ability to import and export configuration directly from the config panel or command line, options to lock configurations from manipulation, and the ability to load configurations on login from local and network locations are available.
And a lot more! There are updates to the configuration panel to make it easier to find a specific setting, new functionality from the drop-down menus inside of a fence to access frequently used items, enhancements to the Fences’ engine, icon customization options, and more.
When we started working on Fences 5, we had two objectives: how can we reduce the distractions of the desktop and how can we make Peek ™ even easier to use?
Chameleon™ is a feature that once you experience it, it’s hard to go back to a classic desktop. With all of the content you aren’t using melting into the background, it no longer pulls your eyes away from the task you are focused on but when you need your desktop, it’s a simple mouse gesture or single click to bring all of the content back into focus. It sounds trivial but for those who use their apps in a windowed view and not full screen, Chameleon™ is going to be your new best friend.
By adding Peek™ to the taskbar, we are making the best productivity enhancement to the desktops even easier to access. This update was the direct result of customer feedback as there is a keyboard shortcut to enable Peek™ (Win Key + Space) but we found it was not easily discoverable.
Turn your taskbar into a modern experience with new style options
Wednesday, November 8, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog
Today is the day, Start11 v2 is ready for prime time – we are taking the Release Preview tag off and adding new features. Rolling out now is the latest version of Start11 v2 with new features for the taskbar as well as a significant number of bugs being squashed.
If you want a deeper dive into many of the new features in Start11 v2, check out this earlier post from the release preview, but there have been a couple of additions since our initial release. Especially the updates for the taskbar - let's dive in.
Easily the biggest request we got after announcing Start11 v2 was the option to round the corners of the taskbar and we are happy to share that this feature is now included in the release today. And, not only can you round the corners, but in true Stardock fashion, you can fully customize the layout with various options to dial in the perfect taskbar for your desktop.
To begin building your modern taskbar, click on the Taskbar option in Start11 v2, then click the Taskbar blur, transparency, color, and rounded corners dropdown menu. From there you can select the intensity of the rounded corners, your preferred offsets on both the X and Y axis, and more.
One of the neat features that is included is how the taskbar can adapt if you are using a full-screen app. When a taskbar is floating with rounded corners, it can create an odd visual experience on the sides and below the taskbar when using an app that spans the entire display. To help reduce this visual irregularity, you can have the taskbar dynamically adapt to a traditional style layout when a full-screen app is detected.
These are the little things that add up that make Start11 v2 a truly great experience on Windows 10 and Windows 11. While the work is never done and we will continue to monitor feedback and patch bugs, this is a major milestone that we are crossing as we have taken Start11 from a product that brought back old features of Windows to a new era where we are adding new functionality that makes Windows a little more personal and a lot more productive.
The industry’s most advanced Start menu just got better
Thursday, October 26, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog
Introducing Start11 v2, the industry’s most advanced Start menu, is taking a giant leap forward today. With more than two dozen new features and even more quality-of-life updates, this is the biggest update to any Start product in history.
With this release, we have 3 brand-new Start menu designs, tabs for the Start menu, new functionality for the taskbar, backup and restore options and dozens of enhancements that let you customize menus to your exact specifications to make Windows more personal and productive.
New Start Menus
Windows Pro Style
When we set out to build Start11 v2, we wanted to take the idea of a centered Start menu but make it look professional while also blending in seamlessly with Windows 11 and 10 – thus the creation of the Pro (or Professional) Style.
With a two-tone color scheme that compliments your own color or the system accent color, the Pro Style works perfectly centered or on the left side of your taskbar. And with the ability to add tabs and groups to the application canvas (left side of the Start menu), you can turn this Start menu style into the perfect platform for keeping your tasks and applications organized.
Windows Launcher Style
Taking inspiration from the various mobile launchers that help organize applications on your favorite mobile platform, the Launcher Style is a modern companion of the classic Start menu.
With a prominent account icon at the top, a modern search interface, and a large application canvas to build your perfect Start menu layout, the Launcher Style is perfect for minimalist designs or maximized organization.
Windows App Style
For many, the Start menu is about one thing, and one thing only – your apps. With a default experience to open the All Apps list and a medium-sized application canvas, this style is perfect for anyone who wants the fewest amount of clicks to find all of their apps.
With shortcuts placed at the top, a smaller profile icon, and all of your apps available to scroll immediately, this is a powerhouse of productivity for users who want fast access to all apps at all times.
Start Menu Customization
New in Start11 v2 are options for customizing, organizing, and launching your applications. The application canvas lets you get creative with your organization and is a powerful tool for personalization and productivity.
In the application canvas, you can add tabs to your Start menu, group icons with different colored backgrounds, add pages and folders too. These options give you different tools to accomplish a single task, create your perfect Start menu layout.
And you can mix and match them as well, want a page with tabs, tabs with group, or a page with folders? It’s all possible with Start11 v2.
New in Start11 v2 is an option that allows you to tint your icons to create a perfectly uniform Start experience. Tint allows you to apply a color theme to all of the icons in your Start menu with a few clicks so that it is a uniform experience.
Each menu allows you to adjust the sizing of icons, spacing, rows, hide icon labels, and more. If there is something you want to adjust within the app canvas, it’s likely that Start11 v2 can be personalized to your desired specifications.
The taskbar is arguably the most important element of Windows. It’s where open apps live and the anchor for your open windows; it also keeps you informed about what is running in the background with the System tray.
Pin Files, Folders, and Drives
Did you know that in Windows 11 you cannot pin a file or folder to the taskbar? It’s an odd omission from an OS that is designed for productivity but with Start11 v2, you can now pin any file, folder, or drive directly to the taskbar.
With the new pin functionality, you can navigate to your content significantly faster than having to open File Explorer every time.
While pinning files, folders, and drives to your taskbar is a powerful feature, folder menus (shown above) take it to the next level by allowing you to navigate the contents of the folder directly from the taskbar.
When used with a folder like Downloads, it makes accessing your frequently used content significantly faster. And for OneDrive users, this is the new must-have feature as it makes accessing cloud content, directly from the taskbar a reality.
Did you know that Start11 is widely used in businesses big and small all across the globe? From large retailers to small courthouses, Start11 is a tool used by many companies to create standardized desktop experiences across multiple versions of Windows.
With Start11 v2, we are introducing more features that will make the app an even better companion to the Windows desktop.
New in Start11 v2 is the ability to “lock” the apps that appear in the Start menu from being moved around. With this feature, IT admins can not only deploy a Start menu to their endpoints, but they can also make sure that it does not get altered by the end user.
One of the bits of magic that Stardock enables with Fences and now Start11 v2, is that you can load a custom configuration based on who is logging into the device. With tooling that helps you export a configuration, you can load a configuration file, on login, that is linked to a specific type of user.
As an example, you can load a configuration for a bank teller, a different configuration for a loan officer, or a unique setup specifically designed for executives – it’s all possible with Start11 v2.
Quality of Life:
With Start11 v2, we not only wanted to deliver new functionality like the new Start menu designs or files on the taskbar, we also wanted to make it easier for our users to backup and restore their Start menu configurations as well.
Backup and Restore
New in Start11 v2 is the ability to easily backup your settings to a file and also restore them from a file too. With a simple click, you can export your Start menu configurations to a file that you can then load on a different machine or if you reinstall Windows and want to get back up and running quickly.
Reset and Clear
Sometimes you end up too far down the rabbit hole of customization and you want a fresh Start. New in Start11 v2 is the option to reset all of the settings to their defaults. And if you ever have a scenario where you want to clear your search history, it is now possible to do so from the configuration interface.
And a lot more
In total, there are more than 50 changes that are available in Start11 v2, you can view all the updates in our changelog.
When we set out to build Start11 v2, we wanted to continue our mission of making Windows more personal and productive. By removing the constraints of trying to work with the default experiences and creating the app canvas for the new Start menus, it unlocks the creativity of the user to design a Start experience that matches their style and workflow, rather than adapting to to a stock and locked menu.
If you like a simple and clean Windows experience, Start11 provides the flexibility for your perfect Start Menu
Thursday, October 12, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog
The Windows Start menu has evolved considerably during the past couple of decades. What is typically considered the focal point of the operating system and the home to all of your apps, has gone from an app launcher to a productivity hub filled with apps, and documents, to a place that shows advertisements.
While Start11 makes it easy to remove unwanted content like advertisements, in my own use, I have gravitated to a minimalist model for my Start menu. Currently, I am running the Windows 10 style but with nearly everything removed.
Like many who are reading this post, the Start Menu has become less of a focus as I try to use keyboard shortcuts as much as humanly possible. This means that I hit the Windows key, type the app or setting that I need, and then use arrow keys to open what I need.
For those who like something that is centered on their taskbar, I have also been using the Windows 11 style but removed all apps and kept deep links to the drives on my PC and in the cloud. This makes it easy to navigate to my content stored locally or in the cloud without having to take my hand off my keyboard which means faster navigation and a better workflow.
The Start menu is a critical part of the Windows operating system and everyone has their own method for how they interact with the app hub. For some, it’s all about the customization and making it a truly unique experience. But for many others, it’s about keeping it simplified so that what is in the Start menu doesn’t get in the way of the work you are trying to get done.
Start11 is easily the most advanced and customizable Start menu replacement available today. If you haven’t experienced it yet, you can download a free trial here or if you are looking for the best value, Object Desktop has all of our popular apps included for one low price.
Groupy 2.12 is now available with enhancements to app compatibility, translations, saved groups, and more.
Tuesday, September 26, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Groupy News
Today we are releasing an update for Groupy 2 that brings with it a plethora of improvements that enhance compatibility with Stardock and third-party applications, updates to translations, and a lot more. The update is rolling out now but you can manually search for an update by opening the Groupy 2 configuration window, clicking the About tab, and then clicking Check Now.
Groupy 2 is the only way to add tabs to all of your favorite applications and with this update, there are dozens of bugs being squashed, updated translations, improvements to compatibility with WindowBlinds, Fancy Zones, and a lot more. You can view the entire changelog here.
In addition to bug fixes and compatibility improvements, a significant amount of effort has gone into how groups are saved, opened, and displayed. The result of this effort is improved consistency when opening up previously saved groups, especially when working with various web browsers.
Like all of our products, if you want to try out updates before they are released to help influence what features and bugs get prioritized – join our beta program. And if you have any feedback, you can find the Groupy 2 community in our forums.
If you haven’t tried Groupy 2 yet, you can download a free trial to experience how adding tabs to all of your favorite applications will transform your workflow forever. And if you are looking for the best value, you can grab all of our productivity apps with Object Desktop.
Let's talk about Windows
As we head into the fall, Stardock Software is planning to release a couple of new experiences as well as significant updates for some of our essential apps. Getting your feedback to help shape our existing and future products is a core part of our mission to make Windows more personal and productive.
We know that many of the users of Stardock’s apps also use Discord and if this sounds like you, make sure to head on over to our server. While the server has been around for some time and is already full of Windows enthusiasts talking about Windows 11, customization, and our apps, if you haven’t ever checked it out, now is a good time to dive.
Why should you come to hang out with us? In addition to being able to provide feedback about our current apps, updates, and services, it’s the easiest way to communicate directly with our development and support team. It's also a great place to talk about the changes that are coming to Windows from the Insider program as well.
The Windows enthusiast community is a core part of Stardock’s identity and there is no better place to show off your desktop, Start menu, or your killer Fences layout. And of course, if you are a fan of our games, there is a very healthy discussion happening on Discord too.
Keeping your desktop organized is just as important as your desk.
Thursday, August 31, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Fences News
“The physical environment of the workplace has a significant effect on the way that we work. When our space is a mess, so are we” – Harvard Business Review
If you walk into an office and see papers, folders, and yesterday’s lunch on a desk, it leaves a lasting impression that the user may not be organized. And depending on their profession, this can have a serious impact on their bottom line. After all, if a lawyer, who is billing by the minute, has to spend time looking for your file on their messy desk, do you want to be paying for that?
Just as a cluttered desk can give off a sensation of disorganization, a cluttered desktop on your computer can create the same image. Especially today when many business interactions take place virtually, colleagues, patients, or clients might get a glimpse of your desktop during screen-sharing sessions.
And what do they see? Numerous app icons scattered randomly, dozens of files filling up the entire desktop or worse, client names that should have not been exposed. And having to tell everyone on the call “I know it’s somewhere here on the desktop” is not going to win you any favors as you drag the meeting out longer than it needs to be.
During the past few months, we have been talking with clients about how they use Fences and more importantly, why they are using Fences. Time and time again we hear a similar narrative playing out, “Fences is saving our employees time” by keeping desktops organized.
And it’s not just rank-and-file employees, it's surgeons, lawyers, and even judges who are using Fences to keep their content organized.
Fences 4 is the industry standard when it comes to organizing desktops for the individual and across your entire environment. With advanced controls that make it easy to deploy standard configurations to all desktops or a variety of configurations based on a user profile, Fences is designed for large and small deployments.
And it makes your desktop look professional – no longer is it an unorganized mess of apps and files, but a clean workspace intelligently organized by automatic rules or by the user.
Time is the most valuable commodity we have and when you are spending time trying to figure out where you left that file, either on your desk, or your desktop, it can negatively affect your ability to get a client a file that they need, finish up a task to meet a deadline, or quite simply, let you leave the office a little earlier.
If you haven’t tried Fences 4 yet, you can do so for free for 30 days. And for enterprise customers, know that Fences is supported with robust deployment tooling and functionality that makes it easy to put a standard configuration on every endpoint.
Fences 4 and Start11 lead the Industry for Standardization
Wednesday, August 16, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Object Desktop News
The desktop is a complicated and wonderful place in the world of Windows. It’s the centerpiece of productivity in Windows 10 and 11 but it’s also a dumping ground for unfinished tasks, icons that open critical applications, and widgets that either try to entertain or provide information to improve your workflows.
There are various ways to try and standardize your desktops, from using group policy workflows that won’t fully accomplish what you are trying to do, to trying to lock down accounts to stop the creation process from happening at all. But the reality is that most users need a middle ground, a solution that allows you to standardize the desktop but also allows the user some flexibility to utilize the desktop as it has been designed for several decades.
We have spent the last few months diving deep into conversations with clients about how they are using our various tools to standardize the desktops within their environment. While no two deployments are ever the same, a common theme has emerged around IT deploying a set of managed experiences for the desktop but also allowing the user to add and manipulate their own icons too.
But what do we mean by a standardized desktop?
We mean that no matter the Windows endpoint, the critical applications will always be in the same location on the desktop, and with Fences, you can lock down those icons so that the user cannot move or remove them either.
As an example, we have clients who use Fences to deploy standardized configurations in hospitals so that each department will have a common desktop experience. Meaning, Radiology, as an example, will always have its critical icons in a red fence in the top right corner of the desktop whereas Ophthalmology has its critical icons in a blue fence in the same location - Fences has the ability to support complex deployment scenarios.
With Fences, you can standardize the desktop experience based on who is logging into the endpoint; it’s a powerful tool that provides IT control over how the desktop functions. Think of it this way, if there is something you want to do with icons on the desktop, Fences is the premier solution to handle this experience.
Whether it's locking down the desktop and icons so that they can't be moved/deleted like a kiosk or allowing some icons to be manipulated and others to be fixed in place, Fences is being used by thousands of clients to do just this.
And for the full standardization experience, when paired with Start11, it doesn’t matter if it’s Windows 10, Windows 11, Windows Server, or an older version of the OS, our StartX line of products can make every version of Windows look identical.
For IT, this means reduced training time spent with each new version of Windows that is released, less time spent updating documentation, and more time spent focused on productivity rather than managing desktops. And for the user, this means less time spent looking for files or applications and more time spent knocking out tasks.
Fences 4 and Start11 are being used by hundreds of thousands of users every day and have become trusted tools by IT professionals for managing the Windows desktop experience. You can learn more about Fences 4 and Start11 on the respective app pages and if you are interested in learning more about these tools and how we can assist with large scale deployments, reach out to us at email@example.com.