Guest Post By : Spencer Scott, Microsoft MVP
For many of us, spending hours and hours in front of a PC has become a normal activity. Since my first experience with Windows, and the years following, I noticed a common desire among users and that was how almost every user I interacted with had some type of desire to customize their desktop. Of course the most basic changes that were made were simple items like changing the wallpaper to your favorite island destination.
The next steps was people changing the colors of the user interface which for a time was very basic and really limited by the operating system itself. This is when hacks and third-party applications began entering the market, and have evolved ever since. When Windows 7 launched it offered so much more in terms of customization than it’s predecessors. It now has a refined and good looking Aero visual style, and it offers more options via color setting and the ability to download themes.
As nice as this is, it is still very limited as to what you can change and that is where third-party applications come in. I am the Tech Evangelist for Stardock, the developers of desktop enhancement apps, and I wanted to share some of the features of one such application – WindowBlinds 7. WindowBlinds has been around since 1998, and not too long ago WindowBlinds 7 was released which offers many benefits for Windows 7 users who wish to customize their desktop appearance beyond basic settings.
First, let me explain what WindowBlinds does in case you are not familiar with it. It uses skins (also called themes, visual styles, etc.) to change the overall look of the Windows GUI by changing the taskbar, start menu, window frames, and pretty much everything else in between. These skins are made by everyday users from graphic hobbyists to professional-level graphic designers who sell skins commercially. There are thousands available for download on websites such as WinCustomize.com and DeviantART.com.
WindowBlinds 7 was carefully developed to have native support for Windows 7. It also introduces Aero skinning (UIS0). Many people like the Aero-style of Windows, but as mentioned above, are limited to what can be done to it. UIS0 skinning gives you the ability to modify Aero by applying more colors and textures natively. This gives you way more customization options than you will find built-in to Windows. Textures are included, but there is also an integrated tool which allows you to use your own textures for a real custom look. You can even apply different textures to different parts of the GUI.
This screenshot shows how I used a texture to apply a custom look to Aero.
The combinations of coloring and textures gives you an almost limitless possibility of customization options. Other features include adjustable transparency and the ability to change Explorer backgrounds. WindowBlinds 7 has also been optimized for performance on Windows 7, which means it uses virtually no resources so no need to worry about system performance when using skins.
More information about WindowBlinds 7 can be found at www.windowblinds.net.
I’d also like to giveaway 3 copies of WindowBlinds to three readers of TWC. All you have to do is share this post on any social networking site like Twitter, Facebook, etc and leave a comment about WindowsBlind below, and the winners will be selected randomly next week!
UPDATE BY ADMIN: Check out Ultimate Windows Customizer, which allows you to customize your Windows installation, including changing the Start Button, Logon Screen, Thumbnails, Taskbar, Explorer look, Windows Media Player and more! etc.