Add the Aero glass look to Windows 8 with the beta of WindowBlinds 8

Software developer Stardock continues to add support for Windows 8 to its current software products, along with new applications made especially for Microsoft's newest OS, including Start8, Decor8 and ModernMix. Today, the company released a new version of one of its older software programs that adds a way to put in a much requested look to the Windows 8 desktop UI.

As posted by Stardock CEO Brad Wardell on his personal blog, the beta version of WindowBlinds 8 is now available to download as part of the Object Desktop subscription service. WindowBlinds 8 allows users to customize their desktop with lots of different skins and one of them happens to be the Aero glass look that many users of Windows Vista and Windows 7 prefer to the look of Windows 8.

Wardell writes:

We include some “skins” that are timeless favorites plus a few that represent what we thought (hoped) the Windows 8 UI might have been like to choose from.  Plus there are thousands of skins available at WinCustomize.com.

Currently the beta build of WindowBlinds 8 (version 7.90) is available only via a subscription to Object Desktop, which allows access and updates to all of Stardock's programs for one year for $49.99. A stand alone version of WindowBlinds 8 will be released in the near future when it comes out of beta; the program only supports Windows 7 and 8.

Disclaimer: Neowin's relationship to Stardock.

Source: Brad Wardell | Image via Stardock

 

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Nice idea, but I too feel that it doesn't seem right without rounded corners and the rest of Aero Glass.

I'm not a fan of the current "flat" UI style - it doesn't make sufficient use of display possibilities, and looks old-fashioned, driven by a need to save computing power rather than to enhance usability.
"Flat" is a word I associate with beer or musical instruments - disappointing, lacking in liveliness!

I've tested some of the tools to get transparency, but I've always found it looking a bit odd when you just add transparency to the Windows 8 UI. It just feels like transparency doesn't look that good without the rest of the UI features of Windows 7 (like buttons, shape of corners, gradients).

Solution to my last gripe about Windows 8.

Windows Blue (8.1) + Windows Blind (Aero) + Start Menu = I can adopt windows 8

OK - let's make a few points here. Object Desktop is a SUITE of programs that can enhance your desktop - WindowBlinds is ONE of those programs. There are several others included in the subscription including IconPackager, Start8, ModernMix, Fences, Tiles, WindowsFX, DeskScapes, Decor8 as well as other programs. Start8, ModernMix & Decor8 are available as stand-alone programs at $4.99 each. IconPackager, WindowBlinds, Fences, Tiles, DeskScapes are available for $9.99 each (I didn't check the other programs). If you subscribe you can renew your subscription for $34.99 (saving $15 from the original subscription price).

I've been a subscriber for over a decade and I find it worthwhile as Stardock continues to add programs to the subscription to meet the needs of its users as the OS evolves. I didn't use WindowBlinds or IconPackager as much on Windows 8, 7 or Vista based systems (compared to Windows XP, ME, 98 or 95-based computers) but Fences, Start8, ModernMix, WindowsFX and other programs helped restore missing features or allow customization to my computer desktop.

Hahaha, lets all get Windows 8 and then make it look and work like Windows 7 Um in the good old days it used to be that people with XP would try and make it look like Vista not the other way around. Windows 8 is a huge joke!

Iridium said,
Um in the good old days it used to be that people with XP would try and make it look like Vista not the other way around. Windows 8 is a huge joke!

Not that I'm a fan of 8's default skin by any stretch (although I still prefer it to Luna), but yea it is the other way around too, there's plenty of 8-esque themes out there for 7 and even XP, not hard to find. That said, it's just a coat of paint, doesn't make an OS work any better or worse.

Some skins allow pinning and windowshading to titlebar only ala winamp/classic macos etc.. So those are features that one could say are enhancements. WindowBlinds is not just a skin replacement it adds features. Also msstyles are very difficult to replace in windows 8. One wrong move leaves your system unuseable. Granted the build 8400 release preview msstyle works without modifications and yes there are a couple of dwmhooks to restore glass effects these have issues of their own. Especially the msstyles.

Since DWM is required to render most UI elements now that replaced GDI with directUI and an invalid or broken msstyle can cause repeated dwm crashing you cannot use your system or most of it without dwm being active. Stardock's WindowBlinds which if we consider they have lowered the price to 10 dollars for WB7 and will likely keep that price for WB8 it is a good offer and provides supported changes to the appearance of windows it is a good value!

For those who have the need to change the look and feel of windows 8 there are at least a dozen if not more UI skins available for free (just remember Google is your friend). Also if looking for the Aero glass look again just go to Google (AGTweaker is the one I use at present). There really is no reason to pay $19.95 to Stardock. . .just saying.

That's nice for people who want it. To each his own.

I actually like the flat design in desktop mode Win8... but MS implemented it very poorly. The flat interface is inconsistent and blends badly. And modifying it is hard, I want thinner borders without having to hack the system files.

You can download a premade .reg hack to change borders seen a few floating about simple click to make small and click to return to normal. UXtheme.dll been patched also so you can just swap the moded copy with the click of 1 button now in a few few apps and change theme costs nothing and takes 1 click.

Yea, I've seen them. One of them caused an error in a system file (I think, my PC started BSODing after I used it). It should be easier and I don't want to bother.

I wouldn't mind trying this as I kind of miss Aero but if they think Aero is worth 50 bucks for somebody out there, I think they are delusional. A program that does nothing but changes the skin... and after paying US$50 you don't even own it?! Are they serious?

Let me help clarify something for everyone. WindowBlinds is not the 40 some dollars for the ObjectDesktop Subscription. When it is out of Beta and gets it's RTM release it will only be apparently the 10 dollars it shows now for WindowBlinds 7. Obviously Stardock has lowered the price. It used to be twice that in the past. Keep this in mind.

WindowBlinds used to be good back in days of XP but after a bit (even before vista) is got bloated and just turned crappy. Don't no what it was that went crap about it just seamed slower, more stuff added that was never needed, menus/options I found each time I opened the UI that I didn't know were there or would ever use.

Could be wrong, this might be different, who knows, who cares these days I am all about system performance not looks. Sell it me for $5 I might be interested.

I know exactly what you mean. However, I feel that you should be able to have both. Something that looks and works well. Not to mention works how you want it to.

Maybe I'm not the only one that thinks gradients and transparencies look good. Never could get Windowblinds to behave right in the past, maybe things are different now, not really interested enough to buy for anything over $5

Hahaiah said,
Maybe I'm not the only one that thinks gradients and transparencies look good. Never could get Windowblinds to behave right in the past, maybe things are different now, not really interested enough to buy for anything over $5

WindowBlinds is worth every penny. Also you get a discount for owning a previous version. Not to mention this is way more than something specific like start8 or even modernmix. This is something that affects the OS look and feel globally. So it even in today's market of bs cheap apps to make money, Programs like WindowBlinds are worth way more. Not to mention there is the whole library of skins past and present and i see a resurgence of new and interesting skins now since WindowBlinds is the only viable choice again. Pure msstyles are not as viable or flexible (not that they were all that much in the past) as the used to be. Stardock is really the only game in town to replace that dreadfully broken msstyle windows 8 rtm'd with.

I use this solution now. It is impressive work and a god send combined with the release preview msstyle. However, WindowBlinds offers more than just restoration of the blurring effects. It can replace all UI elements. Change them however the user chooses. I for one will be using a Vista Aero skin when it comes out of beta. Between Vista Aero and Windows 7 Aero, Vista's version was superior. However, I am not limited to traditional aero. I could do watercolor, or luna, or mac os or a completely original skin.

Also dwmhook conflicts with WindowFX but WindowBlinds would not.

Looks like Microsoft have done a favour for Stardock to profit off people's lust for the removed Aero functionality within Windows 8.
Fair play to them!