When Microsoft released a DreamScene Preview for Vista Ultimate users, I couldn’t wait to try it out. Once I got it installed I was indeed impressed, but I still felt like I was missing out on the full capabilities of what DreamScene could really do.
Now being more than 4-months after the preview version was released, there is still no final version, but that’s a whole other story. Shortly after the Vista release, Stardock picked up some of Microsoft’s slack by extending the feature set that Dreamscene had. They made a free add-on called Deskscapes which once installed, lets you choose from their vast collection of user-uploaded “Dreams.”
Almost all of them are offered for free, and so I thought I would take a look at several that I have personally tested out. And since there are no videos of them available on the site I also felt the need to demonstrate to you what each of them looks like.
Note: None of the videos have sound because I was trying to keep the size of the video to a minimum, but its not like they would have sound on your desktop anyway. You can also look for the little white dots on the timeline to quickly skip to the next Dream demo:
These three Dreamscapes are all based on cities, and one of them has a special place in my heart since it is of the Chicago skyline!
–Waterfalls and Lakes–
Everyone loves water when it comes to desktop backgrounds, so I thought I would devote an entire section just to that! We’ve got waterfalls, lakes, and tropical paradise that will help prepare you for a vacation. :)
Note: Some of the effects that some of the Dreams have are more subtle than others, particularly the two Island ones. I threw these in because they look good, and some people don’t like too much motion on their desktop.
This is kind of a conglomeration of odds and ends that I found. A few of them put you in space, some are related to movies, and others just don’t belong anywhere.
The hot one in this group is no doubt the Shark Pit, which is what I have my current Vista desktop set to. When other people have seen me using it they think it is the coolest thing ever. Kudos to the Stardock team for developing it and not charging a dime!
Caution: The Rollercoaster might make you sick. :)
- Bliss (like the default XP background)
- Shark Pit (this is my favorite)
- The Moon
–Premium Dynamic Dreams–
Besides for producing free Dreams such as the Shark Pit, Stardock also works hard to create dynamic ones. Unlike other Dreams, the content that these show are not just a looping movie, and are instead created on-the-fly for your viewing pleasure.
Since these will cost you money, I decided to point out the features that each has a little bit more in detail so that you have a better idea of what you’ll receive. All of them, except the first one, also have options that you can configure to your liking and I made sure to demonstrate some of the different things you can do with those settings.
- Blissful Dream ($8.95)
This one is pretty cool because it adjusts with your computer’s clock. From what I gather, there are just a few transitions that it has (sun rise, afternoon, sunset, night) which I try to demonstrate in the video by manually adjusting the clock.
- Desktop Earth ($8.95)
I think the NASA-addicts out there will really get a kick out of this one. It is a rotating globe that shows where it is currently daytime and where it is nighttime. You can customize the speed of the rotation, or just make the globe stationary and have the light revolve around it as the day goes on.
- Desktop Collage ($8.95)
I really thought at first that this was going to be my favorite. I consider myself a photo guru and take pictures of almost anything, and looking through the options there was all kinds of stuff to love. At certain time intervals, it places a picture on your desktop (essentially forming a collage), and you can control the size of the pictures as well as the delay between adding photos. The downside is in choosing the location of the photos to use because it didn’t let me use a folder that only contained sub-folders. Instead I had to pick a folder that had pictures directly in it, which takes away a little bit from the beauty of this Dream.
- Liquid Dream ($9.95)
I think this ended up being my favorite out of the bunch because of how realistic it is. At first glance it doesn’t look like anything amazing, but the power lies in the configuration. You can adjust the rain drop frequency, the drop size, the background (rocks, sand, etc…) and the reflective image (night sky or clouds). If you sit there and play with the different options you are sure to find some cool settings, which I try to demonstrate in the video.
While all of the cool dynamic Dreams currently cost money, in the near future that could be changing. Stardock told me that they are working on an SDK (Software Development Kit) for the dynamic Dreams so that anyone could create ones just like these. So keep your eyes open because there could be some cool things on the horizon!