Object Desktop 2007 is an amazing full suite of desktop enhancement utilities. It provides applications that allow you to customize nearly every aspect of your Windows PC to suit your every need. You’re able to transform Windows to the highest degree from the look and feel, even to the functionality. With around 25 different applications (most of which have been updated within the last year) that construct Object Desktop, you can take Windows to the next level. Together with Stardock Corp. we are able to giveaway two licenses for the FULL Object Desktop Suite! After reviewing and playing around with some of the applications included, we are pretty excited that two of our readers will have the opportunity to have this suite. With so much included in this suite, it would be nearly impossible for us to give justice to every application included. We’ve chosen some of our favorites to highlight, just to give you a small taste of what you’ll get. We’ve also included lots of screenshots. Just click on the thumbnails to view the entire image.
One of the first things that you’ll want to know is that the product page of Object Desktop includes demos for several of the different applications that I’m sure you’ll enjoy taking a look at. You’ll also notice that each of the different applications alone range in price from $9.95-$19-95. The complete Object Desktop suite including around 25 different applications will run you $49.95 — a much better bang for your buck.
Setting up is simple. After you’ve created an account, they provide you with a link to download the Stardock Central. This is the central managing point for all of the different programs. Installing each of the different programs is easy and you only install what you want. Within the Stardock Central, you’re given a menu of all applications included. From there, you click to individually install each of the applications that you want. You can select multiple programs at a time, and it will start downloading your first selection, and place the others in queue. Another important aspect is that uninstalling is just as easy as installing, and you can select each of the applications that you want to remove.
With so many applications, it’s a bit difficult to keep track of what each program does. To make it easy for you, they provide you with a description of each program, the size of the download, as well as the corresponding website so that you can get additional details. After installing each program, the Stardock Central will display which version that you have, and if a newer version is available. With free upgrades for a year, this will come in handy so that you know when to get the updated version. After installing, you’re given the button to run the program, and the fun begins!
Also important to note: Themes for the various applications that are part of Object Desktop can be found at WinCustomize.com (operated by Stardock).
Here’s what you need to know about system requirements and hardware:
- Requirements: Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Vista
- Hardware: 1 Ghz Processor or faster with at least 128MB of total system memory.
–Summary of Object Desktop–
Before I go into detail about some of the different applications, here’s a quick summary of what you can expect. Object Desktop 2007 is designed to be an upgrade to your Microsoft Windows. It comes as many consumers will be making the transition between a Windows XP operating system, to Windows Vista, which we know is just around the corner. As mentioned, if you purchase Object Desktop (or win one of the two available), you’ll get free updates for a year which means you’ll get those updates specific to Vista. For now, while you’re waiting for Vista, or if you’ve already tried Vista and it didn’t quite settle with you, as a user of Object Desktop you can “turbo-charge Windows XP and be amongst the first to see the real potential of Windows Vista.”
Here is a list of the different parts of Windows that can be customized:
- The graphical user interface (title bars, push buttons, scrollbars, radio buttons, check boxes, Start bar, Start menu, and toolbars)
- Icons on your system
- Windows desktop (normally wallpaper)
- The way you access your programs.
- The way you access the programs that are already running.
- The way you manage items in the Windows system tray.
Object Desktop applications are broken down into three different parts. The first part is programs that allow users to personalize their Windows experience. The second part includes programs that allow users to create their own enhancements. And the third, and final part includes programs that extend the base feature set of Windows. To sum up Object Desktop is simple, users can personalize, create and extend Windows.
–Personalize with WindowBlinds–
This is what a lot of people consider “the” application from Object Desktop. It’s what can transform the user interface to make it look like anything, from a Mac to Windows Vista. It is the only program that can customize the GUI of Windows XP without having to alter system DLLs. You can change the title bar, title bar buttons, push buttons, radio buttons, scrollbars, and the Start bar just to name a few of the options. WindowBlinds enables users to add more visual styles to their system other than the standard 3 styles that XP comes with. The screenshots below show all of the configuration options for WindowBlinds. Remember, you can click each thumbnail to view the full sized image.
Highlights of WindowBlinds:
- Enables users to add visual styles to Windows.
- WindowBlinds visual styles can radically change the Windows GUI.
- Can change the color or brightness of a visual style on the fly.
- Allows additional title bar buttons to be added (roll-up, always on top, MP3 player controls, etc).
- Allows users to change their Internet Explorer and Explorer toolbar icons.
- Allows users to change their Windows progress animations.
- Supports hardware acceleration in nVidia and ATI cards to improve system performance
- Right mouse click on title bar can be used to minimize applications.
- Supports different visual styles for different programs.
- Can skin non-theme aware applications.
- Can skin the Windows command prompt.
Other applications included with Object Desktop that fit under the ‘personalize’ portion of this suite include:
- Desktops – Apply desktops that can change the Windows Explorer environment to look and function completely different or simply look better.
- IconPackager – IconPackager can apply “packages” of icons. A user who wants to change all their icons in one click would simply download a package of icons and apply them.
- Gadgets – The Object Desktop Gadgets are a series of “mini-programs” that you can run on your desktop that provide additional functionality to your desktop. Examples include Radio tuner, Calendar, To-Do list, Weather forecast, Stock ticker, and World News Report.
- Suites – Suites include all of the above into a single file called a .suite file. When a suite is applied your GUI can be changed, your desktop changed, your icons changed and gadgets added to your desktop to give your Windows experience a complete makeover both visually and functionally.
–Create with ObjectBar–
In a nutshell, ObjectBar is a program that will allow users to customize their Windows Start bar or create new bars, finders, and other desktop level interfaces to manage programs, running tasks, and the system tray. We had lots of fun playing around with this component, and running ObjectBar will only consume 4.3MB of your memory (that’s what we experienced). We used it to create a ‘Vista-like Sidebar’ that could very easily replace your taskbar. It comes ready with some active elements like an Email Plugin, RSS Feed, CPU Meter, and others ready to use. There’s also a list of other available elements that could be added like a clock, system tray, etc. While you’re configuring your side bar, you’re also given the option to hide your Windows taskbar. After you’re done creating your side bar, there would be no need for a Windows taskbar.
Adding and removing feeds from the sidebar is simple, and you’re given customization options like choosing how many news items to show, as well as how often to update. Managing all of your content that you select to include in the ObjectBar is simple. Other highlights of ObjectBar include:
- Manage content that you regularly use and make it easily accessible.
- Tear off menus allow for greater desktop customization.
- Fully skinnable and a host of visual effects
- Ability to simulate virtually any operating system’s desktop environment or create a completely new one.
- Automatically use the current WindowBlinds skin.
- Compatible with DektopX widgets.
- Email plug-in shows last several headers of received mail.
- Ability to pick which items are displayed in the System Tray.
Other applications included with Object Desktop that fit under the ‘create’ portion of this suite include:
- IconDeveloper – IconDeveloper is a program that lets you easily create Windows icons.
- SkinStudio – SkinStudio makes it relatively easy to create your own user interfaces to be used by programs such as WindowBlinds and Windows Media player.
- DesktopX – Build your own desktops or create widgets to be added to your desktop.
- Theme Manager – Use Theme Manager to create your own suites and manage all your skins, themes, icons, and suites.
–Extend with WindowFX–
The features with WindowFX seemed endless when I was giving it a try. We’ve included a lot of screenshots that can do most of the talking! It allows you to add all of the bells and whistles to opening and closing, transitions, and other visual effects to the user interface. The application transparency is awesome. Some of the screenshots below show what happens when you set WindowFX to make windows semi-transparent while you’re dragging it. There are a wide variety of other options for animations that you can choose from. Running WindowFX will only consume 2.1MB of your memory(we were using it for over an hour, and that was our result). Other features:
- True, alpha blended shadows under windows
- Ability to morph windows when minimizing and maximizing
- Several different morphing effects available.
- A set of window opening and closing animations
- Ability to have large icons on the desktop while having normal sized icons everywhere else
- Wide range of semi-transparency options such as making windows, the start bar, menus, and more semi-transparent
- Various special effects for Windows desktop icons and their labels
- A set of special effects for menus when opened and closed
- User defined size for windows to maximize to.
- Able to add more transition special effects and shadows created by users
Other applications included with Object Desktop that fit under the ‘extending’ portion of this suite include:
- Virtual Desktops – Add the world’s fastest, most powerful virtual desktops to your Windows taskbar or to any program that supports ActiveX.
- Control Center – Provides Windows with virtual desktops, resource monitoring, program launching, and other features. The Stardock site only mentions that it’s compatible with Windows 95/98/NT/2000, however we tested with XP and it worked just fine.
- Keyboard Launchpad– Keyboard Launchpad allows users to assign hot keys to nearly every action on a Windows computer. Launch programs, paste saved clipboards, control individual programs and more.
- RightClick – RightClick enables users to replace their Windows right-click desktop menu with one of their own design. This can greatly improve productivity and provide access to their programs and data conveniently.
- IconX – IconX is a program that enhances your Windows desktop icons so that they can be any size, zoom on mouse over, have shadows underneath them and generally make them more attractive and usable.
–How to get it!–
Object Desktop 2007 is published by Stardock Corp. The entire suite can be purchased for $49.95 from their website. The individual components are also available for purchase, but trust me, it’s a much better deal to just buy the entire suite! They also have forums if you have questions, or if you want to scrounge up some more information.
I think one of the paramount things about Object Desktop is the ease and usability of it all. Most of these applications don’t require specialized skills, it’s something that nearly everybody could do. After playing around with Object Desktop, I don’t think it’s something you’d want to conquer in one night, let alone an entire weekend. The best advice I can give is to pick 3 applications one weekend, and get them configured to how you’d like it, play around with it, and then add a few more a week later. There is SO much that you can do, and trying to explore it in just a few days will not give you the full experience that it has to offer. By using Object Desktop, you can think of Windows as a blank canvas with a palette of colors and creativity waiting to be added to it.
Now for the contest! As mentioned, together with Stardock Corp. we are able to giveaway two licenses for the FULL Object Desktop Suite! Here’s what you need to do:
- Tell us why you want Object Desktop Suite or how you would use it. One or two sentences will work just fine, and do this in the comments section below.
- Of course, this is void where prohibited.
- Be sure to include your email address in the ’email field’ when you leave your comment. This will not be displayed on the site. An email address is required because this is how we’ll contact you to let you know you’re the winner.
- Winners will be selected at random, and will be announced on Wednesday, January 10th.
- Each of the two winners will be notified by email at which point we’ll need you to respond with your first and last name so that we can provide it to Stardock corp. From there, they’ll be the ones to hook you up with the Object Desktop Suite.
- Stardock may use any comments submitted on their site or on WinCustomize.com.
- Object Desktop is a value of $49.95
Disclosure: CyberNet News was not paid to write this review. We contacted Stardock with an interest in their product, and they were kind enough to offer a full copy of their software for us to review as well as two full copies to giveaway.