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 4)
on Nov 03, 2010

Yes, I agree with you in that respect, SirBedwyr. Just read a little differently in your first post.

I also want the high tech interfaces we see in movies like Minority Report and Iron Man... but I don't think Stardock is capable of that. Not because they're bad programmers, but because windows simply wouldn't allow it.

No... that would require the building of a new OS entirely. One that Microsoft and Apple couldn't possibly build in their current state of mind.

To be honest, I'm surprised Microsoft even made transparency a standard with Aero. Back when I used XP, I thought that was a feature of the distant future.

on Nov 03, 2010

I thought that was a feature of the distant future

 

Like White Russian flavored beer !

on Nov 04, 2010

DaveBax
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.

The comment from Brad was more about major enhancements rather than smaller updates as IP 5.1 was

DaveBax

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.

Generally speaking if an application is not compatible with the users OS then Impulse should indicate this if you try to install it.

They are still shown because we want the list to be consistent between machines or we will get support enquiries about that plus you may want to archive the application on a machine that is running a non supported OS.

Most of the XP apps will run on 32 bit Vista / 7 though they are obviously not fully aware of any new OS features.  While 64 bit OSes will run most 32 bit applications, this is not the case for utility software which interacts with other apps / explorer.  This is why rightclick for example is 32 bit only.

An application like WindowFX 3 did support 64 bit but major OS changes mean most of the features work with poor performance at best on Vista / 7.  However WindowFX 4 is currently in beta and is supported on XP/Vista/7 in 32 and 64 bit form for Vista / 7.  WindowFX3 will still show in the downloads list as XP users might want to use it as WindowFX3 has some XP features that WindowFX4 does not.

DaveBax


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.

I know Brad is currently working on the plans for ObjectDesktop 2011 and I would expect it will be a little while before everything is known.

on Nov 04, 2010

Skinning's not going to go away, but imo functionality of my interface is the new skinning.

functionality seems to me to be that which is under the hood, skinning is the eye candy. I'm not sure how many skinners are capable of changing the way something works and as an novice skinner, it sure ain't me. and then again, would you really want a skin to change the functionality of your programs or the OS?

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..

this seems to be pretty much true for all of stardock's programs and one of my biggest complaints for all time, lack of documentation. seems that we're expected to know what all of the changes or functions are suppose to do, all use photoshop, and/or are in the business. for someone still learning it can be quite frustrating at times.

If I didn't have the forums to get some answers to my skinning questions I'd have given up a long time ago.

on Nov 04, 2010

Neil thank you for the reply and with your statement.

"Generally speaking if an application is not compatible with the users OS then Impulse should indicate this if you try to install it"

I understand this but most of the people that have been here know this but no one new would know this. So I was just saying a small amount of text after the program name in added in the middle saying "for win7 only - for all OS- for 32 and 64 bit. that is all I was saying as it isn't a big deal to me or many only mentioned it to help all the new people.

OK, I said all I'm going to say except for the below this really wasn't a professional approach to the topic. I just don't think what Brad wrote was given much thought as knowing what he has accomplished he is a total professional and should have said things a different way. Yes  this is only my feeling but can't help to think if it was written in a different way the responses would have may have gone in a more positive direction. Really, no one knows anymore now than before reading the post.

EX: "or…it might be a huge amount of work that amounts to very little. This just pertains to whether it will make money or not and should have just said.

"We will look at it and see if the work involved doing a major update will be cost effective"

 

Same with this statement

"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."

Would have looked much better if it said

"The whole Windows experience needs a serious overhaul and during our review we will decide what we feel will be cost effective and what won't. If we feel a program will be cost effective we will continue to improve that program. When the final decision is made for 2011 OD we will let you all know".

Sorry but I guess I just felt by reading the topic many times that all my management experience came into play and feel it was put more into a negative statement and could have read more of a understanding and positive statement.

OK, all you fine people I'm done and sorry if I upset anyone.

 

on Nov 05, 2010

why do want to be overdependent on microsoft?

use open standards as html 5. a desktopx skin/theme could be just a website (minus the background). the main program could take care about things like position on screen, z-order and things like a skin options dialog (which the skinner can define in an xml file).

this would make it a lot easier for skinners as plenty of development tools (html editors) and scripts and apis are already around.

this way you could also find developers. or do you know anybody who uses silverlight?