Georgiou, September 2004, send
to the web site
98, 98SE, Me, 2000 or XP; Pentium III or faster CPU,
this product was first reviewed by Kickstartnews it received
raves. Stardock hasn't rested on its laurels and now, six
years after the software was first released, the suite
has grown and added many very useful features. What exactly
does Object Desktop do? It is quite simply an operating
system environment and feature enhancement tool. With it
and the components it contains, you can change, add to
and customize your system's operating environment and shell.
The Object Desktop software package contains a large number
of components and in this review I've tried to briefly
cover every one of them.
component allows you to customize the look and feel of
the Windows graphical user interface (GUI). With it, you
can simulate the look of the MAC OS, the Library Computer
Access and Retrieval System (LCAR) interface familiar to
Trekkers, create a Matrix-themed interface or use any of
the many available customizations (there are hundreds now).
ObjectBar goes hand-in-hand with WindowBlinds and allows
you to customize the Start bar to your heart's content.
SkinStudio you can design your own skins for WindowBlinds,
ObjectBar and some of the other components. SkinStudio
is a powerful visual interface creation environment that
makes it easy to create WindowBlinds skins and skins for
other programs as well.
allows you to alter and modify the application icons throughout
your environment it also allows you to save predefined
libraries of icons for different environments. IconDeveloper
which is also included in the Object Desktop package allows
you to create your own Windows icons. With it you can import
and modify existing icons to suit and it will even auto
generate different standard icon sizes. By right clicking
on a graphic you can also create an icon from it very easily.
Icon X completes the experience by allowing you to add
drop shadows, behaviours and color changes to your icons
when you mouse over them.
is a great little program that adds special effects to
your GUI such as animations, transition, drop-shadows,
animated desktop icons, transparency and much more. It
does however have one big drawback in that it is very processor
intensive. Be careful when activating too many feature
because it can slow down your system.
DesktopX is the one component which I felt showed the
true potential of Object Desktop 2004. It allows you to
create and define your own GUI and add customizable objects
and widgets. Easily design your own desktops or use desktop
(themes) created by others to maximize your productivity
and computing experience. It also allows for the desktop
integration of Active X controls and extends functionality
C# and Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML). One
lovely feature DesktopX adds is the ability to run Widgets
even if Object Desktop itself is not active. I've used
this with several very cool Widgets I've found.
Other enhancements include the Keyboard LaunchPad which
allows you to define hot keys for anything from your top
applications through to your favorite web sites. ObjectZip
allows you to integrate the handling of ZIP files as if
they were standard folders. Object Edit can be used instead
of Notepad and has a more robust range of editing facilities.
Tab LaunchPad is also one of my faves, categorizing your
programs through an easy to use tabbed interface. I like
it because I have hundreds of applications which I use
on a regular basis and this helped me to organize them
all more effectively.
SpringFolders makes folders open automatically when you
drag a file onto them. Other utilities include DriveScan
and Object Sweeper, which between them, allow you to graphically
map disk usage and eliminate wasted disk space.
Finally, Theme Manager pulls all the skins, themes, icons
and more together. With it you can save your customization
into a single suite in order to back up your environment
and settings for later use should you decide to make some
changes or even reformat your drive. Component Tray allows
you to access all the components installed on your system
and quickly switch between recently used skins and themes.
All of the components in Object Desktop are managed and
updated through Stardock Central. This program acts as
a conduit through which you can update your software, chat
with other users and explore the Stardock forums.
All of the components in Object Desktop 2004 are very
well integrated and Stardock has done a great job of facilitating
the customization of Windows through these components.
The enhancements that they have added to the Windows shell
are fairly transparent to the user and are also well thought
out. Much consideration has been placed on the future extensibility
of the Object Desktop and its place in Windows.
Cons: Some of the customizations are not exactly up-to-date
and as a result they fail to load completely. Using all
of the components places a large load on your system resources
which means that sometimes a great deal of tweaking is
required to ensure a responsive environment. The web-based
support system is okay but could be improved by changing
from newsgroups to a forum-based system. You can access
the forums through Stardock Central, but it would be nice
to be able to access them through the web site.
Pros: Extremely powerful and easy to use. Highly configurable.
Allows you to use only the parts that you like. DesktopX
is extremely powerful and very well conceived.
I have thoroughly enjoyed playing with this suite and
although I won't use the whole suite in my day-to-day creative
design work, I will continue to use parts of it to enhance
my working environment. For users who dislike the look
and feel of Windows but have too much invested in it to
switch to a Mac OS or Linux computer, Object Desktop 2004
is a great option and for those of you who like something
a little more personal. I highly recommend it. One cautionary
note: it can be very time consuming and very addictive.
Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org