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WindowBlinds 4.1 released!

Article posted on 7/16/2003


Stardock has released WindowBlinds 4.1. WindowBlinds is a program that allows users to change the look and feel of the Windows GUI (title bars, Start bar, push buttons, radio buttons, etc.) on Windows XP (the full version supports Windows 2000 as well).

Version 4.1 adds support for tool windows, some new additions to the skin format, hyperpaint support for UIS2 skins, and a host of tweaks and fixes based on feedback from 4.0.

You can download it at

Some recent skin examples: (MetalX 2) (Avenger) (DinksDX) (Microsoft Xbox visual style) (Rise of Nations) (Age of Mythology)

In April of 2003 Stardock released WindowBlinds 4.0. Version 4 was redesigned for Windows XP to make use of Windows XP features. It added smart painting which has allowed WindowBlinds visual styles to perform faster than the included Windows XP visual styles.

It also was able to take advantage of the XP visual style compatibility APIs that have allowed WindowBlinds 4.x to have equal compatibility to what is provided by Microsoft.

In addition, new features such as shellstyle support (task panels), sliders, command prompt skinning, logoff screen support, please wait screen support, control panel background skinning, and mcuh more were added.

The net result is that WindowBlinds 4.x provides a very complete, very fast, and very compatible Windows customization solution.

In addition, WindowBlinds 4.x has these advantages over the bundled Microsoft visual style engine:

1) Uses less memory and resources. Ram usage in GUI skinning is largely due to the actual skin. The overhead from the engine itself is minimal. WindowBlinds visual styles were designed to use less memory. For example, the Luna visual style (Windows XP style) uses 4 megabytes of space on the drive. To put it in perspective, WindowBlinds 4.1 comes with 10 skins and the entire package including installer is about 5 megabytes total. In memory, WindowBlinds skins use caching, shared bitmaps, and video card memory to use significantly less memory than the bundled XP visual style engine.

2) Not only are explorer views skinned by WindowBlinds but it does not require the user to hack the shellstyles.dll. Users who have "customized" their shellstyles have had to actually hack a DLL to do so. WindowBlinds makes the skinning of the explorer views as part of its format ensuring compatibility with different versions of Windows XP (i.e. no need to download a new version of WindowBlinds when a Service Pack comes out).

3) Identical compatibility. Not only does WindowBlinds use the same APIs to detect whether to skin a given program, WindowBlinds can allow users to skin all their programs if they so choose.

4) Works with .suite and .xptheme formats. The standard suite format used by skin authors is the .suite format used by WinStyles that can put together Icons, skins, themes, etc. all together into a single file.

5) Multiple Language Support. WindowBlinds works with all languages Windows supports. WindowBlinds continues to be popular in Japan and other Asian countries where customization has always been quite popular.

6) Fast System hooking. WindowBlinds uses the same system hooks that the Windows XP engine uses (some people have tried to say that Windows XP''s visual style engine uses no system hooks but they are mistaken). The advantage though is that the WindowBlinds DLL uses less memory than uxtheme.dll resulting in less overhead.

7) WindowBlinds not only supports multiple font sizes and DPI sizes, skin authors can use their own fonts and sizes within their own skins. WindowBlinds can automatically install an included font onto a system for the user. In addition, users can magnify or reduce the size of the fonts on a per skin basis.

8) Integrated into Themeing APIs. WindowBlinds automatically detects applications that are using the new XP themeing APIs and skins them natively. In addition, WindowBlinds is the basis for DirectSkin, the world''s most popular custom skinning API.

9) Massive user control. Users can control the size of the taskbar, change the color of the skin, take advantage of hardware acceleration in their video cards with Hyperpaint, control the gamma correction of their skin, change the skin to be grayscale, set different skins on a per application basis, add additional controls to the title bar, write plugins to control their MP3 player, report weather, and much much more.

10) Ongoing support. WindowBlinds 1.0 was released in 1999. 5 years of development have made Stardock the world''s leader in GUI customization. Its engine continues to evolve and add new features based on both user and skin author support. Its skin creation program, SkinStudio, supports many different formats including UIS1, UIS2, USF, and msstyle. WindowBlinds technology has been licensed by Microsoft, nVidia, Nintendo, Bell South, Warner Bros, Touchstone Pictures, Serious Magic, and countless other companies.

WindowBlinds 4.1 is available at (

It''s free to try and $19.95 to register on its own. The full version skins additional controls and has additional features, enhanced skin packs and more.

You can also purchase Object Desktop which comes with WindowBlinds, DesktopX, ObjectBar, IconPackager, ControlCenter, ObjectZIP, Keyboard LaunchPad, and much more.