Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on October 30, 2010 By Draginol In OS Customization

I’m slowly putting together the 2011 business plan for Stardock. Where to budget what.  It’s a difficult challenge this year because the Windows market isn’t just fragmented but the tech market is fragmented (iOS has become a serious venue for development).

Our business model for skinning has slowly broken down over the years. Years ago, we would come up with app ideas and then look out on the net to find someone who has made something similar and work with them on a royalty basis. 

Nowadays, the expectation of quality is such that you can’t really get away with having some college student making this stuff in his spare time for some extra money and our seasoned developers have moved on to other things or are juggling many different programs at once.

For example, I’d love to do a full blown WPF DesktopX successor.  But we’re having a devil of a time getting DesktopX 4 out the door as-is.  A WPF desktop creator might be a big hit or…it might be a huge amount of work that amounts to very little.

As Windows itself has gotten nicer looking by default, the demand for software fix the Windows experience has naturally declined. I use IconPackager, WindowBlinds, ObjectDock, Fences, and DeskScapes.

I think there’s a lot more that could be done with DeskScapes going forward.  IconPackager is a lot tougher because the time versus pay off ratio doesn’t work out.  WindowBlinds still has a lot of good stuff we can do for that.  ObjectDock 2 just came out and there’s a lot that can still be done there.

We already have a couple of new things in store for next year but increasingly, our focus is on things that improve the experience of Windows less via eye candy and more by modernizing the experience.  Anyone who has used an iPad (or Windows 7 mobile) can really see how rickety Windows (and MacOS for that matter) have really become.  Not because they’re overly complicated but rather because their user experience was designed during a different era. 

The whole Windows experience needs a serious overhaul but such an overhaul wouldn’t be cheap and it might amount to nothing if users didn’t like it.

I know I’m more than a little annoyed that Microsoft has taken their eye off the Windows ball. WPF and Silverlight are awesome – on Windows.  Microsoft needs to quit putting mindless suits in charge of things and get some people with common sense running the show.  Windows need not to a legacy platform, it just needs a revisit from a 2010 perspective.

And so that’s what I’m looking at.  The challenge is finding developers who are willing to work on a royalty basis rather than a salary basis.  People to share the risk in creating cool new things.


Comments (Page 3)
on Nov 02, 2010

Like Objectbar?

OBar WOULD have been great except for the total lack of any coherent tutorials/documentation. It now lies festering at the bottom of a stinky pile of could have beens..

right along there with RightClick

Indeed.

Something that actually changes the functionality of the interface and makes workflow more convenient

Winstep Extreme

 

on Nov 02, 2010

what was that about windowblinds..?

on Nov 02, 2010

Absolutely agree with Jafo's 'less G and more I" regarding the GUI. It's simply because of what's already been said so I won't repeat.

BUT, as long as there's a vStyler, AVMan, Essorant, BoXXi, (and Vamps when her other work load is lightened), Mirsguy, and Karen around...as well as the up and coming generation , the "G" is well taken care of!

As for functionality? That should be the selling point, and "RightClick" and "ObjectBar" are highly functional. DX is as well, but does have a learning curve....which could be eased with a serious update. I guess it's up to you to decide what's worth it, though.

on Nov 02, 2010

Something that actually changes the functionality of the interface and makes workflow more convenient

Winstep Extreme

Yes, Winstep Xtreme certainly boosted my user experience to a high I'd not seen before.  In fact, after firewall and antivirus apps, it's the first non-security app I apply after refomatting... and with all my settings saved and imported, I'm ready to go in seconds.

I particularly like the desktop modules as they provide all the crucial system/email/network information I need at a glance. The only thing missing there, I think, is a configurable calendar similar to Rainledar.  Add that (hint, hint, Jorge) and I'd be as happy as a pig in muck.

on Nov 02, 2010

Mind if I delete my posts? They don't seem at all relevant. I misunderstood the direction it needed to go.

on Nov 02, 2010

BUT, as long as there's a vStyler, AVMan, Essorant, BoXXi, (and Vamps when her other work load is lightened), Mirsguy, and Karen around...as well as the up and coming generation , the "G" is well taken care of!

 

Ahem......

on Nov 03, 2010

RedneckDude

BUT, as long as there's a vStyler, AVMan, Essorant, BoXXi, (and Vamps when her other work load is lightened), Mirsguy, and Karen around...as well as the up and coming generation , the "G" is well taken care of!
 

Ahem......


This is just my suspicion, but if you want Doc to include you in his brags, you need to show him more love.  I see *you* haven't given him any karma lately. 

on Nov 03, 2010

I want to be able to use and create my desktop in the same way as a web page. Think of the desktop as a canvas upon which you can lay out any sort of thing you want using a WYSIWYG editor and/or markup language. I should be able to put controls, embed video, clocks, monitors, what have you on the desktop. Let ME define the interface to replace the current Windows GUI. Entirely. Make it easy to create and edit, in the same way that it is pretty easy to create web pages. Supply a whole laundry list of controls and monitors that are skin-able to place on the desktop so that I can get started right away at making my desktop work for me. Sounds like what? DesktopX. I know! But that puppy is JUST TOO HARD to use and not enough comes "in the box" for most people.

My biggest gripe about your products isn't actually functionality. It is MAKING THE FUNCTIONALITY ACCESSIBLE to every day users. I've made my own Right Click skins, altered and created WindowBlinds from scratch, etc. Never once did I find the CREATING part easy enough for anything but a dedicated hobbyist to do. The editors are clunky, unintuitive and largely undocumented. And therein lies an opportunity it seems to me.

 

 

on Nov 03, 2010

I really hope things get better, I'm loosing the faith a little bit and yes, iOS is a very attractive field I've being entering too.

I just wish other OD apps got all the love that WindowBlinds and DeskScapes get, but not being updated only over the years

to go compatible but getting new directions, blowing my mind away like they used to do in the past.

on Nov 03, 2010

This is just my suspicion, but if you want Doc to include you in his brags, you need to show him more love. I see *you* haven't given him any karma lately.

I don't pay for brags, if I do good, I do good. If I don't, He tells me..lol.  I know he has all my DX themes.  I generally give him K to leave me alone.

I know Doc lurvs me, and he knows I....  er ....  well.. He knows how I feel..I was just raggin him.    

on Nov 03, 2010

I'm not an expert in any of this stuff. Hell, I've only been using Windowblinds and Skin Studio for a little over a year. And I haven't made anything amazing with them, either.

 

But there are some things I've noticed. Like how Windowblinds has some problems with certain programs, which makes dark skins (a very popular choice) incompatible with certain programs. Like Photoshop.

 

I don't agree with SirBedwyr who says it should be entirely about functionality. The whole point of making programs like Windowblinds was to change the look of windows. Which it does. But the only things it really changes well are the taskbar, start menu, and the other windows-specific windows. There are still some part of the folder windows that don't skin properly.

 

I do agree that functionality should be a big aspect of it though. Look at Rainmeter, for instance. It's a LOT like Desktop X. Not to mention Rainmeter has become a huge part of desktop customization these days. It adds tons of functionality as well as "looking pretty". One of it's big drawbacks is how hard it is to change anything, however. See where I'm going with this?

 

If a program were made that gave us the functionality of Rainmeter but was as easy to use as Skin Studio, it would probably be a big success.

 

Another thing I would like to see is being able to remove or rearrange various aspects of the actual windows interface. Like being able to remove the command bar in standard windows. That's a MAJOR longshot... pipe-dream, if you will. But it's an aspect I would really love to see.

on Nov 03, 2010

The whole point of making programs like Windowblinds was to change the look of windows. Which it does. But the only things it really changes well are the taskbar, start menu, and the other windows-specific windows. There are still some part of the folder windows that don't skin properly.

amen to that. When Vista came out my WB enjoyment started declining. There are some great skins since then but they don't leave you 100% thrilled anymore due to the limitations imposed by MS and the lack of (ability/desire) of SD to overcome said limitations. No fault of the fine skinners that are the TRUE reason for the success of Windowblinds either.

on Nov 03, 2010

Skillet, I don't actually disagree with you.  There is a place for skinning, but it has to work and it has to surpass the look and feel of Windows 7.  Far too many skins get close to equalling the quality of 7, but that's not enough to pry the cash out of my hands.  I need to be impressed.  That's a tall order and why I think functional changes to the UI are the way forward.  I see an untapped market for a personally customized UI that works the way *you* want it to, not just look the way you want it to.  After poking around ObjectBar, I see potential, but it needs to be an entirely new program with entirely new paradigms of interactivity with the system.  OB is more than a little long in the tooth in what it offers.

Me?  I want to see something as glitzy as Win7 glass, but with access to my programs that works (and looks) more like Minority Report than Office '95 menuing (and menuing... and menuing).  Different locations to store icons and stuff and smooth, fast animations when I access them, a futuristic, clean, minimalist look... that's what I want.

on Nov 03, 2010

edit: "primary way forward", not "sole way forward" was my meaning.  There's room for both, but most of the growth looks like it's in the interactivity, IMO.

on Nov 03, 2010

Quoting from the main topic.

"IconPackager is a lot tougher because the time versus pay off ratio doesn't work out."

Having a hard time understanding everything said and going on. This statement is part of the main topic yet IconPackager 5.1 was released today. Starting to think some people don't even know what is being worked on.

Again from the main topic.

"For example, I'd love to do a full blown WPF DesktopX successor. But we're having a devil of a time getting DesktopX 4 out the door as-is. A WPF desktop creator might be a big hit or…it might be a huge amount of work that amounts to very little." 

Personally I think it's time we all know just what is going to be updated and usable. If programs are going to be lets just say thrown away for windows 7 than throw them away already and let us know. Impulse is loaded with programs which many won't work with Win7 or in face Vista. Why are they there? If there is a good reason they are there than note them as to what OS they will run on. There are many questions on the forum about why doesn't ----- run on my win7. How would a new person who just purchased OD, loaded Impulse ever know this as all he or she sees is a lot of programs.

I don't think it's only me but if it is than so be it. It's your business Brad and I totally respect that. People get mad and than sometimes glad. You didn't really say much on this topic that meant anything. Make your decision, let people know what won't be updated anymore and it's as easy as that. It is sure a lot better than having people hope their favorite program may be worked or and waiting and waiting, etc., etc.

 

I will end with this. I'm not usually outspoken like this as I enjoy reading the post, helping if I can, replying nicely to things, and having just plan fun. Why don't you just pick programs in question, make a list and email everyone to mark a yes or no if they really use it or not. Than take the list and decide if any of the programs can fit into your budget for rework. It was you the also wrote

"The whole Windows experience needs a serious overhaul but such an overhaul wouldn't be cheap and it might amount to nothing if users didn't like it." If the budget isn't there than it isn't there.

It may surprise you if you just come out and say for example Right Click will not be updated and any other programs you choose that many people may be upset but still remain here and not leave. I think in a short time you may start losing people just from all the bull going on and trying to guess. We all know it takes time and money to program all this stuff and than fix what needs to be fixed so just decide already and be done with it and let everyone what will be available and what won't.