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.
A beta release to address compatibility with a new Windows 11 update
Wednesday, March 1, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
Everyone loves a good surprise! Sometimes it’s on your birthday, sometimes your anniversary - or sometimes, Microsoft ships an update ahead of schedule. This week, Microsoft announced several new features coming to Windows 11; which is exciting, but when they start shipping updates outside of a traditional patching window, it can cause a few headaches.
Microsoft unexpectedly released KB5022913, also known as Moment 2, about two weeks ahead of schedule. This release introduces a new system tray experience in Windows 11 that has compatibility issues with older versions of Start11.
There's good news, though! We have a compatibility patch for our application and were already prepared to ship it next week to meet Microsoft’s expected March 14th (Patch Tuesday) deadline. The patch is currently available as a beta download. The version is Start11 1.4 and while there are no new features in this release, it is a significant update in terms of compatibility.
It is worth noting that KB5022913 is only being downloaded if you actively seek the update. But, anyone with Windows 11 installed who manually searches for Windows updates will be prompted to download the release. While we anticipate that the compatibility issues between Start11 and KB5022913 are only impacting a small number of users at this time, we are still moving quickly to migrate our 1.4 build from beta to general release.
If you are running Start11 on Windows 11 and are seeing oddities - primarily on secondary taskbars or in coloring around the system tray - we highly recommend you give the Start11 1.4 beta a spin. We believe it will resolve the compatibility issues that this update has introduced. If you are running into anything else after the update, please let us know in our forums so that we can accurately track bugs.
Save 25% on Fences 4 for the Rest of February
Wednesday, February 22, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
Late last week, we rolled out another update to Stardock.com. We overhauled the Fences app page experience to match its design to the recently updated Start11 page. With this new look, we have combined our consumer and business pages.
Read on to find out how you can save up to 25% by purchasing Fences this month.
Although Fences is loved and used by hundreds of thousands of users every day at home, it's not well-known that Fences 4 is also utilized by thousands of corporations. From manufacturing to healthcare, some of our largest clients are using Fences is in unique ways to not only keep their desktops organized, but for also sharing documents internally without having to use email or Teams.
One key difference on our new app pages is the “How It's Used” section in the middle of both the Start11 and Fences 4 pages. The intent of this section is to help highlight the various ways our applications are used not only at home, but also in the office. Especially with Fences, the various ways our clients are using the software to keep projects organized, share files internally, and reduce the amount of time lost from looking for lost files, can be enlightening for those who are not intimately familiar with the product.
If you haven’t tried Fences 4 yet, you can try it free for 30 days. Or if you are looking to buy or upgrade to Fences 4, you can save 25% for the remainder of the month with the discount code FENCES4FEB when applied at checkout.
Fences is the cornerstone of the Stardock productivity portfolio. Not only can it keep your desktop organized, but it can make your workflow across devices a seamless experience with Folder Portals. Also, when using Peek, you have instant access to all your content without having to leave your app.
If you want to learn more about Fences, head on over to our shiny new landing page.
The Best Desktop Customization App Arrives on Steam
Wednesday, February 15, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
For fans of personalizing their desktop who like to buy their applications on Steam, today is your day: WindowBlinds 11 is now available on that platform. You can get it as both a standalone product or in a bundle with Start11.
WindowBlinds 11 is the easiest way to truly personalize your desktop. With only a few clicks, you can theme your desktop with a retro style like Windows Classic, or jump ahead in time with a theme like Diamond, which rounds the taskbar and looks like the next version of Windows.
When you pair WindowBlinds 11 with Start11, you have a fully customized desktop experience tuned exactly to your specifications. If you've already purchased Start11 on Steam, you can easily add WindowBlinds 11 with a bundle to save a few dollars, too.
While working on bringing this application to Steam, we also took time to optimize the installation process as well. Starting with this build, we have reduced the time for installing from a couple of minutes to roughly 30 seconds or less (depending on your hardware).
WindowBlinds 11 is available on Steam today for $19.99 with support for 5 active devices running Windows 10 or Windows 11. If you prefer to buy direct, you can learn more about WindowBlinds 11 on our website here.
Refreshing Stardock, One Page at a Time
Tuesday, January 31, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
Earlier this year, we started to roll out updates to Stardock.com to improve the user experience for downloading applications and managing subscriptions. In addition, we have also overhauled our help portal and are now shifting focus to our app pages.
We've rolled out the first new app page update, bringing with it a new style and messaging for one of our most popular applications: Start11. The new page layout has larger images, new messaging for both home and business users, easier link discoverability, and more.
Start11 New App Page
Along with the new design, one of the bigger changes makes it easier to find the trial links for our software. In our old design, the software trial links for our applications were not easily discoverable – the new layout places an emphasis on making this link easy to find.
Bringing the business and consumer pages together will also improve our discoverability. While we do currently have pages dedicated to our enterprise clients, we know that most of them initially learn about our products from our consumer pages. By creating one page that can effectively serve both users, we can streamline our navigation and better serve both types of users.
Start11 Legacy App Page
With the first page nearly complete, we will start to roll out these design updates to more pages next month. We are still making a few optimizations to our design and mobile layout, but if you see any oddities, please let us know.
Updating all of our core app pages will push us closer to our goal of modernizing many aspects of our site experience, but the work is not done. We still have more plans to continue to update Stardock.com, but we will share more about those efforts when they are closer to fruition.
How to make Windows 11 look like Windows 95
Wednesday, December 21, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
Earlier this year, we released WindowBlinds 11 and with it, we included a modern theme that looks like the future of Windows but also a retro theme that brings back memories of Windows XP. And today, we are taking it back even further with a true classic Windows theme.
With the latest update to WindowBlinds 11, we have now included Windows Classic, a truly retro theme that takes you back to the era of Windows 95. We have spent a significant amount of time crafting this style to be a faithful replication of the previous version of Windows.
And like our other themes, when paired with Start11, you get the best experience where the Start menu, along with the frames and taskbar, are themed too. The Windows Classic theme is included as a default option, and while you can install many other styles from our user-created marketplace inside the application, there is no additional cost for this particular theme.
Along with the new theme, there are a couple of bug fixes in this release including better interoperability with Fences 4 along with an improved experience for selecting which themes to include during installation.
While we don’t want to spoil any upcoming themes, this is not the only release we have planned for WindowBlinds 11. Our expert skinners are already working on another update that we know you will love but you’ll have to wait until early next year for that release.
You can download the update with the new theme today by opening WindowBlinds and searching for an update, downloading the build from your Stardock dashboard, or if you need to purchase the application, you can do so here.
This last week of holiday celebrating has been a whirlwind.
Saturday, December 17, 2022 by Tatiora | Discussion: Stardock Blog
The holidays are in full swing here at Stardock, and we’ve had ourselves quite the busy week! Although most of us are local to Michigan, some of our colleagues work remotely with us from elsewhere. For the last couple of years, Stardock has made sure to fly them out for the festivities so that we can spend some time with them in person, and believe me we made the most of it this year!
We kicked our week off with one of our patented game nights in the studio’s cafe. We wanted to make sure they got a taste of the original Detroit-style pizza, so we ordered some Buddy’s for dinner and got started right after our work days ended.
I brought and introduced a game that was new to most everyone else called Wavelength. In Wavelength, you break off into teams and take turns sending up a clue giver. The clue giver then draws a card with a range on it (example: Genuine to Not Genuine, Best Dog Breed to Worst Dog Breed, etc.) and then spins a dial.
The dial brings up a target range which, due to the spin, lands randomly on the face of the spinner. The clue giver must then give a clue that falls within the range of their card in an attempt to get their teammates to turn the dial to where they think the bull’s eye is.
The clues can be pretty creative, too! My favorite was for Genuine | Not Genuine and was “A used car salesman, but he has pictures of his family in his wallet.” Our team turned the dial hard toward Not Genuine, but pulled it back a bit because of the “pics of his family” modifier. It was a clever clue, even if we did end up missing the mark a bit!
We played with 3 teams instead of 2 because there were so many (25!) of us. Team Right, Team Left, and Team…Clump of people in the back. Team Clump was very enthusiastic, and all I learned from that night was that I need to switch up my naming conventions. Also, just so I don’t get bullied, I feel that I should mention that “Team Left” took home the win.
We split off into groups then and played some rousing games of Avalon, Euchre, and other things. It was so nice having our friends from out of town in the same room as us! We enjoy our online game nights, sure, but there are just some things that are better to do in person.
Speaking of better to do in person, one of the other things that’s hard to do online together is an escape room. So the following night, we loaded everyone in a few cars and drove out to Decode: Ypsilanti, where we tackled probably the most elaborate and beautiful escape room I’ve ever been in (and I’ve been in a lot!).
But first, we had dinner at Hop Cat, a local favorite in downtown Ann Arbor. Can’t tackle complicated puzzles on an empty stomach!
When we got to Decode, our guide Patton was waiting for us. He was fantastic! A great game master with a ton of enthusiasm and full-on commitment to the story of the room, which I really appreciated.
We escaped with about 10 minutes to spare! It was definitely the most challenging room I’ve ever been in, but we tackled it with gusto and had a fabulous time doing so. Our smiles afterwards were even bigger than our smiles going in - I knew we had it in us to get out.
Finally, to the main event of the week: the holiday party! Brad and Debbie, the company’s owners, always graciously open their home to us each year so that we can spend the day enjoying delicious food and even better company. We play a lot of games, have a fun white elephant gift exchange, and just enjoy time appreciating each other and the year we’ve had.
Getting back to reality on Thursday was tough, but we managed! We had the update for the Sins of a Solar Empire II Technical Preview to release, after all. Today is a day for eating more of the leftovers from the party, playing some lunch euchre, and then crashing at home under my Star Wars Christmas blanket with my cat.
We are getting ready for our holiday closure here, too. Stardock will be closed from Friday, December 22nd through Monday, January 2nd and will reopen on Tuesday, January 3rd. I know we’ve all been looking forward to some well-deserved rest and relaxation!
From all of us here at Stardock, we wish you and yours a warm and wonderful holiday season. See you in 2023!
Lots of bugs squashed
Thursday, December 8, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Stardock Blog
Today we released Start11 v1.36, which brings with it numerous bug fixes, compatibility updates for using with other Stardock products, and a couple of optimizations on startup. You can download the update now from your Stardock account, or by going to "about" inside the application and checking for updates.
In this release (you can read the entire changelog here), we focused on squashing many of the bugs that have been reported, as well as enhancing compatibility with WindowBlinds 11. For those who are applying the various styles that WindowBlinds provides out of the box, you will find a more consistent experience when using both of the applications in tandem.
Along with the bug fixes, we have made enhancements to the startup process for Start11 that should resolve any visual impairments experienced after a reboot. There are also quite a few tweaks to how various assets are displayed when using either light or dark mode with Windows 11.
Our goal with v1.35 was to focus on direct user feedback regarding where the app needed improvement. An application like Start11 has an almost unlimited number of deployment scenarios, and while we do test and validate our products before shipping, there will also be edge cases that may not show up in our reviews.
We always value the feedback of our customers and if you have suggestions about features we should add to Start11, make sure to let us know in our forums or the comments below.