- Info & Requirements
Developed by: Stardock Corp. (www.stardock.com)
Price: Trial version is free for 60 days. Enhanced version is $19.95. Can also be purchased as part of Object Desktop suite ($49.95).
OS Compatibility: Windows XP and Windows Vista. Windows 2000, ME, 98 users can use WindowBlinds Classic (v4.6).
More Skins Available at: WinCustomize.com, deviantART, LotsOfSkins, SkinBase, XPThemes.com
WindowBlinds is a program that that enables Windows users to completely change the look and feel of the Windows user interface. Users customize Windows by using visual styles (skins) created for WindowBlinds. With these skins, WindowBlinds can change the look of:
WindowBlinds is part of Stardock's Object Desktop suite of desktop extensions. It is also available stand alone at WindowBlinds.net.
Excellent application compatibility. Because Stardock has had years to tune WindowBlinds for compatibility, WindowBlinds has excellent compatibility. How good? Ask Microsoft, Nintendo, nVidia, ATI, and many others who have licensed WindowBlinds to release additional visual styles.
Top Notch Performance. WindowBlinds uses the graphics acceleration features of today's video cards to accelerate visual styles.
Tight Integration. WindowBlinds 5 doesn't need to any dedicated process in order to run, it runs as a native Windows XP extension.
Native. WindowBlinds DOES NOT "skin over" the existing user interface. It works by extending the existing painting calls with newer, faster, more feature rich ones.
WindowBlinds skins virtually every aspect of the Windows GUI that one can imagine. And in fact, the enhanced visual styles used by WindowBlinds can skin things previously not thought to be skinnable such as logon/logoff dialogs, the "please wait" dialog, backgrounds in the Control Panel and other special folders, and more.
WindowBlinds also comes with clean and easy configuration dialog. Users can still control their WindowBlinds enhanced visual styles from the display properties dialog, but the WindowBlinds configuration makes it easy to manage dozens of skins, sort them by category, and configure it to their liking.
WindowBlinds 5 skins support per-pixel alpha blending on nearly all controls including the title bars, borders, menus, and other major elements. That means no "jaggies", semi-transparent elements, and just plain cooler looking user interfaces. And best of all, it does this using DirectX acceleration so for most users, it actually increases performance over standard Windows.
WindowBlinds can change the color of any visual style on the fly. While there are thousands of existing WindowBlinds visual styles, this feature allows users to take those visual styles and tune them to their own tastes visually. The same is true about gamma adjustment and even gray scale. A user can even invert the colors of a visual style.
Before & After. Same applications. WindowBlinds can skin non-theme aware applications.
WindowBlinds works by extending the drawing APIs of Windows to support additional features. These features are designed to provide new functionality, improve performance, and be seamless. WindowBlinds does not hack any system DLLs, it doesn't replace any system files. It follows the Windows programming guidelines which is why Microsoft awarded it its designed for Windows XP logo certification.
(WindowBlinds is certified by Microsoft for use with Windows XP, Windows 2000*, Windows ME*, and Windows 98*).
* = Windows 2000, ME, 98 users use WindowBlinds classic based on WindowBlinds 4.x.
See how WindowBlinds has been used by millions of individuals and corporations as well. Here are some examples of WindowBlinds in use in the real world...
Microsoft licensed WindowBlinds to create an X-box visual style. If you would like to try this visual style, visit Microsoft's Xbox website.
Warner Bros. licensed WindowBlinds to promote Terminator 3 on their website.
Blizzard licensed WindowBlinds to create a World of Warcraft desktop!
Touchstone pictures licensed WindowBlinds for the computer interface scenes in The Recruit.
nVidia licensed WindowBlinds to provide an nVidia UI for their customers. Additionally, nVidia partners such as ABit, EVGA, BFG, and others also licensed WindowBlinds to include with their video cards.
Nintendo is currently using WindowBlinds to promote the Nintendo Gamecube and their games such as Super Mario Sunchine, Pikmin, Legend of Zelda, and others.
Today, WindowBlinds has an estimated installed base of over 8 million users worldwide. It is one of the most popular programs of all time time on C-net's Download.com (the world's most popular download site) and the world's most popular desktop enhancement program. It has thousands of visual styles (skins) created for it with new ones appearing every day from people from around the world. It is used both by consumers and corporations alike. For consumers, it lets them personalize Windows to their needs. Corporations use it for branding or to extend the Windows GUI to have additional features needed by individual companies.
Its website is http://www.windowblinds.net. It is $19.95 stand alone but is free to try with a download available on the WindowBlinds website. It is also part of Stardock's Object Desktop suite of desktop enhancements which is $49.95.
If you're a commercial software developer, you can make your application skinnable with DirectSKIN.
|The Advantages of WindowBlinds vs. The XP visual style engine|
If you're running Windows XP, WindowBlinds provides significant advantages over the bundled visual styles system.
| Zero-Footprint Mode|| WindowBlinds 5 requires no in memory programs in order to work. Moreover, while Windows XP includes a built in skinning system called Uxtheme.dll, WindowBlinds uses wblind.dll instead and its skins tend to use less memory than the included .msstyles.|
| Explorer Views and much more are skinned|| Because WindowBlinds skinning uses the native XP theming APIs, it not only skins the Explorer views, but it goes beyond that to skin other elements such as the "please wait" dialog, dialog backgrounds, log off dialog, and much more. Only WindowBlinds provides a complete skinning solution for Windows XP users.|
| Outstanding Application Compatibility|| WindowBlinds not only can skin theme-aware applications but non-theme aware programs too.|
|Integrated into .Suite files|| The most popular format for putting together sets of themes and skins is the .suite format. With a .suite file. With it, you can change all your icons, GUI, Windows Media Player and third party programs such as Trillian, Winamp, Hoverdesk, NeXTStart, CursorXP, and much more. WindowBlinds is natively supported by the .suite format.|
| Hardware acceleration|| WindowBlinds makes use of today's video cards to accelerate the painting of visual styles. As a result, every posted independent test shows that WindowBlinds is significantly faster than the bundled visual styles.|
| No hooking of SetWindowsHookEx|| WindowBlinds does not use SetWindowsHookEx. Systems hooks, contrary to some claims, do not necessarily slow down the system. But in any event, WindowBlinds 5 does not use SetWindowsHookEx.|
|Multiple Font Sizes, Colorizing, and more.|| WindowBlinds can work at any DPI, any font size, and supports users changing the color of the visual style on the fly. Only WindowBlinds can do all this.|
| Enhanced GUI controls|| WindowBlinds supports third party extensions to the title bar and borders. For example, users can add roll-up buttons, always on top buttons, MP3 controls, etc. to the title bar as part of their visual style.|
|Integrated into Theming APIs||Microsoft has added a new theming API to Windows XP. WindowBlinds supports the Theming APIs of Windows XP. In addition, it supports the DirectSkin API that is used by many companies to develop skinnable programs. |
|True Alpha-Blending support|| WindowBlinds supports per-pixel alpha blending on nearly all parts of the OS. Only WindowBlinds can apply skins that eliminate jaggies, are semi-transparent, and just look more polished on Windows XP.|