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Desktop customization

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  • User profile image
    Pseudo

    I think part of the appeal of Linux is how customizable the desktop is.  Has Microsoft recognized how popular programs such as Windows Blinds are, and will they be bundling skinning software with Longhorn?

    On a similar note, I like the virtual desktop XP power toy, however sometimes it would be really nice if I could interact with the programs in "zoomed out" mode.  It seems like this would be possible with Avalon, however a 3rd party app would need hooks into the desktop manager.  Will this type of programability be exposed in Avalons API?

  • User profile image
    OSUKid7

    I completely agree. Desktop customization is incredibly important. It seems like Microsoft took out some of the functionability in XP. I mean, sure you can switch back to "Classic" if you want to change colors, fonts, etc., but why not let us do that by default with the new XP styles?

    On a side note, how legal is it to use the modded/hacked uxtheme.dll file?

  • User profile image
    Jeremy W

    About once a year I try some kind of desktop customization at work (home's for playing). It'll last about 2 weeks and then I'm back to "plain as can be". Anything else is distracting and makes me less productive.

    Unless a desktop customization somehow puts stuff I need closer to my fingertips it's just icing. Icing's nice for home, but when I need to work I need a user-centric process. Not bells and whistles.

  • User profile image
    Manip

    Yeah, what a wonderful idea! And while we are at it lets make the entire visual look customizable.. we don't care about speed... we don't care about usability. [/Sarcasm]

    Linux desktop has a very very small percentage of users and the reason for that is that it is insanely over-complicated to use. Even power-users don't touch it because of its complexity. Microsoft should boost the customization a little but lets keep thing in perspective here, Linux desktop is NOT a successful product. How many people actually customize their Linux desktop into a Mac or OS2 interface? Maybe 2%.

    Doing things like this does have a cost. That cost can be moved around but it always exists. Would the normal user want to use 1% of the CPU cycle up do add features that they don't use, how about 5mb of RAM? Do they want hundreds of buttons and boxes when they are trying to figure out how to change the font?

    Something to remember is that the general public is very fickle and these improvements would only appear positive to those power users that like to customize. But most of the time they would buy the latest thing out and about anyway.

    [Note: Linux is a wonderful system and I really like it. I just wouldn't run it as my primary desktop or generally use X11 for anything]

  • User profile image
    vorte[x]

    OSUKid7 wrote:
    On a side note, how legal is it to use the modded/hacked uxtheme.dll file?


    Legal or not, I believe us, users, we're forced into the patching of this file to prevent from going completely insane.

    It was either patch or pay (http://www.tgtsoft.com).

  • User profile image
    vorte[x]

    Manip wrote:
    Doing things like this does have a cost. That cost can be moved around but it always exists. Would the normal user want to use 1% of the CPU cycle up do add features that they don't use, how about 5mb of RAM? Do they want hundreds of buttons and boxes when they are trying to figure out how to change the font?


    Please keep in mind every process you run on Windows XP, regardless of what theme you do (or don't) have applied, the Uxtheme library gets attached to it.

    If it's there consuming memory, why not put it to good use?

  • User profile image
    Pseudo

    I agree that everything comes at a cost, but this cost is there regardless of who makes the skin, Microsoft or myself.

    While I admit that skinning is just eye candy, many people love skins because it makes your desktop feel more personalized.

    As far as productivity, I think if they opened up the desktop management in longhorn though an API, it would have a lot of potential.  I tend to have a lot of windows opened and finding the right one is a pain.  With Longhorn it should be possible to pan/zoom a view into an infinate virtual desktop so I could spread out my windows...but of course MS will not provide this because the average user would probably get lost.  However if a 3rd party app could be installed to do this for me, I would be in Longhorn heaven.  But I'm afraid MS would need to be more supportive of customizations with some API's than they are with XP.

  • User profile image
    JParrish

    I think the reason MS did this may be two fold. 1. They planned to make available skins through their Plus products. 2. MS has long been concerned with the user experience of their customers. Things that many people take for granted, like being able to click a check box by clicking within a padded area, are very important to them. Common controls and their appearances help users to "know" an application without having been in it before.

    I still agree that we should have the power to skin windows, and it certainly fosters a community around the OS, but I think that has already been accomplished and MS hasn't had to do it (in as far as skinning is concerned).

  • User profile image
    scobleizer

    Um, did you miss that in the past month we hired the guy who wrote Windows Blinds? (IanH) So, yes, we do recognize how popular Windows Blinds is. Smiley

  • User profile image
    prog_dotnet

    "modded/hacked uxtheme.dll file?"

    every user api in longhorn are supposed to be in managed code. The components will be precompiled (and some will be in the gac?) and signed with microsofts private key to halter tampering of system dll files.

    So you are out of luck there..

  • User profile image
    vanlandw

    "modded/hacked uxtheme.dll file?"

    that has changed my entire computing experience...i sware i would not use windows if sites like www.themexp.org didn't exist

  • User profile image
    Manip

    vanlandw wrote:
    "modded/hacked uxtheme.dll file?"

    that has changed my entire computing experience...i sware i would not use windows if sites like www.themexp.org didn't exist


    What would you use?

  • User profile image
    darklotus

    I dont see why microsoft would package only 2 worthless themes for XP and disallow new themes and other additions to the theming engine. There is even a link to download new themes but none exist, oh, im sorry then new ones included in the Plus Pack which costs money for useless additions. Why put so many constraints on how things look and feel. When thats the most important part or an OS.  

  • User profile image
    Shawn

    I must be the only guy that actually likes Luna.

    Granted, the Blue and the Olive themes are pretty disgusting looking but the Silver is both attractive and unobtrusive.  Key qualities for a good theme if you ask me. 

  • User profile image
    Manip

    Personally I like the default Win95 theme in XP. The first thing I do after installation is switch to classic everything.

  • User profile image
    prog_dotnet

    I'm using the Panther theme in Style XP...i like it a lot...

  • User profile image
    RobKeiser

    Manip wrote:
    Personally I like the default Win95 theme in XP. The first thing I do after installation is switch to classic everything.

    If you like the classic theme, then you should probably just turn the themes service off.  This will give you the classic look without the overhead of running the themes service.

  • User profile image
    Pseudo

    scobleizer wrote:
    Um, did you miss that in the past month we hired the guy who wrote Windows Blinds? (IanH) So, yes, we do recognize how popular Windows Blinds is. Smiley


    that's news to me, but glad to hear it.  hope it's not too late for him to have a major influence on Longhorn's customizability.

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