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Remember IconX? Let's check it out!

Article posted on 12/10/2020

Sometimes, my blog writing has me diving back through years of Stardock’s history from the development and evolution of WindowBlinds, to the evolution of the Drengin in Galactic Civilizations III, and even all the way to a history of desktop icons. This time, I’m taking a look at one of our old products, one that was here long before me: IconX.

A screenshot of IconX on Windows XP, pulled from the program's original website.

First, let’s talk a little bit about what IconX is. 

IconX is a program that enhances your Windows desktop icons by giving them shadows, making them any size you like, and more. With IconX, you could make it so that your icons would zoom-up on mouseover, re-label your icons, and make your icons smoother and more attractive thanks to the addition of anti-aliasing.

Other options included the ability to alter the font, size, and color of icon labels. You could also trigger sounds and special effects on mouse over, click, and double-click events.

Once I had an idea of what IconX was and what its history was, I had one big question: would this program, which was originally released in 2004 for Windows XP, still work on Windows 10?

The answer: Yes! Sort of.

I had some trouble getting it to load properly on my PC, so I enlisted the aid of our resident expert, Matt. With some finagling - he actually had to change the properties of the download to initiate the compatibility mode and set it to XP - he managed to get it to run.

Although all of the features aren't in tact and there are some bugs, the program does run on Windows 10. You can see on the left side of the image above how it has adjusted the icons slightly, but it did kill the background image on the desktop and would occasionally make the taskbar blink.

Above, you can kind of see here the kinds of options and customizations that were available in the original program. Some of the icons still worked(ish) and hovering over them would change the color/size.

Installing this older program onto a modern PC came with quite a few side-effects, like messing up the right click menu by making it the wrong size and just straight up making some icons go missing. But, in IconX's heyday it had all sorts of perfectly compatible options for changing your icons, like sliders for adjusting brightness and contrast. You could also be very specific with your shadows, adjusting things like sharpness, darkness, height, and angle.

Although IconX isn't fully compatible with Windows 10, we have a much more current program that works wonderfully: IconPackager. You can replace all of the default Windows icons at one time using custom icon packages that come with the app or that you download from WinCustomize. If you’re into making your own icons, you can also have some fun with IconDeveloper.

Since IconX and IconPackager technically serve different purposes, in theory they could work side-by-side to offer you even more customization for your icons. Not only could you change all the default Icons with IconPackager, but you could then adjust shadows, font size, and interactions with IconX. 

Did you use IconX back in the XP days? Is it something you'd want to see updated for Windows 10 someday? Share with me!