WindowFX is a special effects program for
Windows that allows users to add a variety of opening and closing, transition
and other visual effects to the user interface.
WindowFX has been designed to be a great way to
spice up your system while still adding some productivity benefits (such as
maximizing windows to a specific size). Unlike many programs that fall into
the "eye candy" category, WindowFX
strives to not get in the way of doing real work on the computer.
- True, alpha blended
shadows under windows
- A set of minimize and
maximize transition effects
- A set of window
opening and closing effects
- Ability to have large
icons on the desktop while having normal sized icons everywhere else
- Ability to apply light
sources to different coordinates on the desktop that colorize titlebar/borders of windows*
- Wide range of
semi-transparency options such as making windows, the star bar, menus,
and more semi-transparent
- Various special
effects for Windows desktop icons and their labels
- A set of special
effects for menus when opened and closed
- User defined size for
windows to maximize to
- Able to add more
transition special effects and shadows created by users
- And more!
WindowFX is part of Stardock's
Object Desktop enhancement suite (www.objectdesktop.com).
It is also available on its own for $19.95. A shareware version is also
available at http://www.stardock.com/products/windowfx.
How good is your video card on Windows XP? Take the test at www.xpbench.com
A Guided Tour
One of the best new features in WindowFX version
3.0 is the updated and enhanced configuration window. From this window you
can see all available options and easily view or change them at any time.
An easy wizard assists with initial setup the first time the program is
accessed, and changes can be made at any time thereafter by accessing the FX
icon in the system tray.
WindowFX 1 was the first program on the PC to
allow the use of alpha blended shadows and heavy use of transparent windows.
That was essentially all WindowFX 1 did. WindowFX 2 went far beyond
this by allowing users to use user created shadow designs and pick between
WindowFX 3 can apply a range of shadows underneath
desktop windows and the taskbar, making them appear to “pop” off the page. A
number of different set styles are included with WindowFX,
or you can make your own to share with others.
WindowFX shadows also boast superior performance
by making heavy use of video card acceleration. Users can change the color,
size, opacity and shape of their shadows. You can also decide if you want to
hide the shadows while moving and resizing the window (this feature will
allow you to move or resize the window faster), apply shadows to menus,
tooltips and even to toolwindows. (Toolwindows are the small, free-floating windows that you
find in programs such as Adobe Photoshop. Each window supports a different
type of tool for the program).
Tip: For best results, be wary of combining too many special effects at
once. Unless your video card has excellent support for the new XP visual
APIs, having shadows and transitions enabled can cause noticeable performance
WindowFX allows you to animate windows in a
variety of ways when they first appear, and when they close.
Some of these effects include windows “sliding” in from a determined point
on the screen, expanding, shrinking or even rolling. As with many of the
options in WindowFX you can choose to select a
random choice each time, or you can set animations to occur only when opening
or closing a window.
Just like with the window animations outlines previously, WindowFX allows menus to animate when they first appear
and when they close.
of the most useful new features of WindowFX version
3 is the taskbar previews. In a typical day a user might have a number of
windows open and minimized to the taskbar at any given time. The popup
taskbar preview allows you to see a preview picture of the window in handy
tooltip form as you mouse over them. Setup options for this feature allow you
to set the size of the preview based on personal preference.
Windows operating system allows users to switch tasks using Alt + TAB. WindowFX extends and enhances this feature by allowing a
larger graphical preview of the tasks as well as being able to change the
hotkey associated with the action.
Popup Task Switching:
handy feature lets you task switch without pressing any hotkeys on your keyboard.
Pressing the user-defined mouse button will make a popup menu of currently
running applications appear. You can scroll using your mouse wheel and select
using the left mouse button.
WindowFX allows users to choose between a wide range of transition effects. When a window is minimized or
maximized, it can morph into view. Stardock has
gone to extensive lengths to make this more than eye candy; on a reasonably
good, modern video card, there should be no performance hit whatsoever when a
window is maximized or minimized (see system recommendations). When a user
clicks on “minimize”, a fluid effect takes place that on such systems will
not interrupt the flow of work.
Tip: Depending on your system, you may want to adjust how large a window
transitions will affect.
you drag a window around your screen, WindowFX can
add a number of different effects. You can choose to have the window turn
semi-transparent, or have a dragging animation such as the “Basic Swaying”
motion depicted above.
Advanced features allow you to limit the size of the window to be animated
upon dragging, adding a “pulse” to the window or adding the ability to move a
“ghost” copy and leave the original in place.
Windows XP supports very nice, alpha-blended icons. As a
result, many icon authors have begun making 48x48 sized icons which look more
detailed and often look better. The problem with 48x48 sized icons is that
their size is a detriment to screen “real-estate”. WindowFX
is the first and only program that allows users to have 48x48 icons just on
the desktop while keeping the standard 32x32 sized icons everywhere else.
WindowFX can also arrange the icons on the desktop in a
“tile” mode with the description to the right of the icon.
WindowFX can make application windows semi-transparent,
enabling you to see through the windows. This feature is set on a per-application
basis and can apply various levels of transparencies to Windows. Users can
define different windows to be different levels of transparency. One nice
effect is to make the Start bar transparent. There are various options to
allow windows to become solidified when the mouse pointer is over them. WindowFX can even have windows ignore mouse clicks.
These options let you make your taskbar and menus semi-transparent similar
to the application transparency shown above. They can also optionally be set
to fade back to full visibility when the mouse cursor is over the window
WindowFX can “tile” your open applications on the desktop,showing you small
preview window of the applications and files you have open.
When tiled, windows scale down in size so that they are dramatically
smaller but can still be interacted with like a regular window. This feature
is highly customizable, and is useful when multi-tasking.
Maximize to Size:
Sometimes you do not want a window to maximize to full-screen. This
feature allows you to decide how large a maximized window will be. You can
even have different sizes when ctrl or shift is held down.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does WindowFX do?
A: WindowFX can be described as “coolness,
cast into code”. Possibly a better description is “a program to add
semi-transparency, shadows and transition effects to your windows and menus on
Windows 2k/XP”. Either way, if you’re looking for sheer eye candy, look no
further – WindowFX is for you.
More specifically, WindowFX has the following
- Fades, rolls, slides,
dissolves, blinds and expansion effects for windows and menus, of varying
length and direction.
- Semi-transparent windows,
with either permanent transparency or variable pulsed transparency on
- Scriptable minimize and
maximize transitions - have your window twirl into the taskbar or cascade
in little pieces.
- Custom-shaped shadows with
user-configurable color and opacity – also allows WB skins to define their
- User-defined maximized window
size and position limitations.
For more information, see the WindowFX product
page at http://www.stardock.com/products/windowfx/.
Q: What is the best video card for WindowFX?
A: The answer to this question changes regularly. You want a video
card that supports hardware alpha blending and supports APIs that allow fast
access to DirectX from the GDI APIs. Stardock worked
most extensively with nVidia, ATI, and Matrox on performance.
On a well supported video card you should have no delay at all when you
minimize a window with a transition. Moving a window around with a shadow on it
should cause no slow down. WindowFX comes with a
performance advice option.
Q: How can I make WindowFX work
faster?/ Will it slow down my machine?
A: A lot of new users will turn on every effect available in WindowFX and then find it slows down their system. For most
users, they will have to make a choice between the various effects they decide
to use in WindowFX. Too many effects turned on at one
time can result in a performance hit to your machine; the GPU cost of each of
these add up quickly. For example, if you want shadows, you should probably not
use transitions on minimize and maximize.
You can also adjust the time transitions are allowed. Longer transition
times look nicer but may interfere with PC productivity.
Q: Does WindowFX work with older versions of
A: Due to the nature of its effects, which require specific support
from the operating system and drivers, WindowFX will
only run with all features enabled on Windows 32-bit XP/2003 (most features are also
functional on 64-bit XP/2003 as well). Some non-graphical features may work on
earlier versions of Windows but support for them is not a priority and the
feature set in this area is unlikely to improve.
Q: What’s new in Version 3.0?
- Additional animations and
- Popup task switching
- Taskbar previews
- Graphical task switcher
- Easy set-up wizard
- Updated, easy-to-use
- Updated 64-bit support
Q: I hear WindowFX is part of the Object
Desktop suite. What is Object Desktop?
A: Object Desktop is a suite of desktop enhancement utilities
designed to allow users to turbo-charge their Windows experience. It’s like getting the next version of Windows today! The suite is
loaded with over a dozen programs designed to give you everything you need to customize
your user interface and to make your computing experience more enjoyable and
Object Desktop comes with such programs as WindowBlinds,
Theme Manager, ObjectBar and much more. For more
information visit: www.objectdesktop.net