A component of Object Desktop

WindowBlinds 2 development builds are currently available via Object Desktop. WindowBlinds 2 will be available to the public in late September. See this document for information on qualifying free updates (when available) and the continued support of WindowBlinds 1.x.

WindowBlinds 2 Overview


For the past several months, Stardock’s development team has been working hard on designing and implementing a host of new features to create a next generation version of WindowBlinds.


The primary focus has been on making WindowBlinds faster and more compatible while at the same time offering features that make it a more complete skinning solution.  WindowBlinds is ultimately a component of Object Desktop whose goal is to allow users to completely control the Windows environment.  The function of WindowBlinds is to give users control over the GUI interface elements of Windows. Users and corporations can then determine what look and feel Windows needs to have to suit their purposes.


The result of these months of effort is WindowBlinds 2.  A more detailed overview of the new features is discussed later in this document but in short what it provides:



A more detailed explanation is available later.


WindowBlinds 1 vs. WindowBlinds 2


In the software industry, people are used to using a program and having a new version come out and having to pay for the new version without much choice being involved.


If I purchase Widget 1.2 and they come out with Widget 2.0, you basically are forced to upgrade to Widget 2.0 if you want to continue to be supported or see any updates. 


At Stardock, we do things differently.  We don’t like the upgrade system that most companies use to force their customers to continually pay them money. 


So let us start this section with this statement: DO NOT UPGRADE TO 2.0 UNLESS YOU ARE CONVINCED IT PROVIDES YOU WITH ENOUGH VALUE TO JUSTIFY THE UPGRADE EXPENSE.  We hope we can convince our 1.x customers that all these new features are worth the $10 upgrade price but we do not want them to feel forced to upgrade in order to continue receiving support.


As much as we might like to be able to give WindowBlinds 2 away to everyone who bought 1.x, we can’t afford to spend half a year in development and give it away. But what we can do is make sure that it’s clear to customers that they shouldn’t feel they need or have to upgrade to WindowBlinds 2 unless they find the new features compelling.


We’re are also saying, even before WindowBlinds 2’s release that we are going to continue to release new registered updates to WindowBlinds 1.x until June 30, 2001 and they will be free.  There won’t be any new features in those releases but there will be bug fixes in them as we come across and fix them.  And we will provide you with free unlimited technical support on WindowBlinds 1.x enhanced edition until June 30, 2001.


And if you purchased WindowBlinds 1.x directly from Stardock after June 30, 2000, you get WindowBlinds 2 free automatically.


A considerable amount of effort has been put in to make sure that a skin made for WindowBlinds 2 will function on WindowBlinds 1 still.  The 2.0 features won’t be present on 1.x but the skin itself will function. Again, the point being that we don’t want people to feel they have to upgrade to WB 2 unless they want those specific features. They can continue to enjoy all the benefits of 1.x by using the new WB 2 skins that begin arriving.


The bottom line is that if you purchased WindowBlinds 1, we want you to feel comfortable in staying with WindowBlinds 1 if you choose not to upgrade.  We consider you just as much of a customer as someone who purchases WindowBlinds 2. In upgrading to WindowBlinds 2, you should feel that you are upgrading because the features in it are worthwhile to you.  We think the new features in version 2 are pretty incredible but we want you to be the judge of that.




WindowBlinds 2: The Features


WindowBlinds 1.0 was released on September 20, 1999.  1.0 was a milestone in the GUI customization movement. No other program available on Windows can match what the customization WindowBlinds provides and version 2 moves the goal posts even further.


Yet, 1.0 did not skin scrollbars, the task bar, the start button, menu items, the menu itself, and a whole range of other GUI elements. 


Over the last 10 months, Stardock has, in accordance to its long standing policy, released a multitude of free updates to WindowBlinds that have greatly increased its feature set.  The aforementioned GUI elements are now skinned in WindowBlinds 1.31.  WindowBlinds 1.4, available only to registered users, will feature an all new configuration window that is based off the WB 2 code.


With WindowBlinds 2, Stardock has gone and begun the process of giving the user the ability to change the look of nearly every GUI element in Windows. Some of these new elements are obscure (like the headers on the details view of a window).  Others are very apparent (like the buttons on an MDI child window).  Below is a fairly comprehensive list of all the new features:



Pricing and Availability


WindowBlinds will continue to be $19.95 for the downloadable shareware version (and $29.95 for the retail edition which comes with box, manual, CD full of skins, and other goodies). 


Users who purchased WindowBlinds 1.x before July 1, 2000 get a discount to 2.0 and can upgrade for $10.  Users who purchased on July 1 or later will be able to download 2.0 just as they would download any enhanced build of WindowBlinds.


Another option is to upgrade to Object Desktop which is what WindowBlinds is part of.  Until the end of September, we will have special upgrade pricing for those WB 1 users who want to upgrade to Object Desktop: $30 (Object Desktop is $49.95 normally).  Object Desktop comes with not just WindowBlinds but DesktopX, WindowFX, IconPackager, Control Center, Tab LaunchPad, ObjectZIP, BuilderBlinds, and lots of other components.


There is no “pre-order” mechanism for WB 2 since users can purchase WindowBlinds 1 and they will automatically be able to get WindowBlinds 2 and users who want to upgrade will be able to do that immediately when WB 2 becomes generally available.


WindowBlinds 2 Alpha will be available on Object Desktop on August 28. So users wanting to beta test WB 2 can upgrade or purchase Object Desktop.



Closing Comments


We realize that by supporting WindowBlinds 1.x and WindowBlinds 2 at the same time may cause some confusion. But we, as a company, feel that our customers should not be made to feel like they need to upgrade to receive support.  As individuals, we have often felt burned by large software companies who put out new versions of their software, expecting everyone to pay money to upgrade if they want to see continued support.  So while supporting WindowBlinds 1.x with new versions and such after 2.0 is available may cause some confusion, we believe that in the long run treating customers with respect and courtesy pays off.


If you are interested in discussion WindowBlinds 2, please visit our discussion group at: news://news.stardock.com/stardock.windowblinds.beta


Screenshots of WindowBlinds 2 in action: