Interview: Stardock's CEO talks about Decor8 for Windows 8

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Software developer Stardock released its first Windows 8 product, Start8, as a free beta several months ago, and recently launched its commercial version. The software allows users who access the "Modern" UI of Windows 8 to use a more traditional Start menu. Now the company has just launched its second Windows 8 project, Decor8. This new program offers up a way for people to change the background of the Start screen in Windows 8 to whatever they want, unlike the current default version which has just a few limited options.

We got a chance to chat with Stardock CEO Brad Wardell to find out more about Decor8 as well as some other topics.

First, you launched the first, commercial, version of Start8 for Windows 8 a few weeks ago. What has the response been like so far?

It's been great. We've gotten a lot of positive response from people and businesses that wanted the performance improvements of Windows 8 but didn't want to mess with the "Metro" Start screen. 

There are also a lot of other Start menu products made for Windows 8 that are being released. How do you feel about all of these software products coming out and do you think Start8 compares well to those products?

I think the single biggest advantage Start8 has is that it is designed to look, feel and function exactly like the Start menu people are used to. The other programs I've tried all seem to want to put their own spin on the Start menu. I think most people are interested in just getting the Start menu back.

Stardock is releasing its second Windows 8 product, Decor8. What can you tell us about it?

Decor8 is our first program that starts to address the limitations of the Windows 8 Start screen. The default Start screen doesn't allow you to use your own wallpapers and such. Decor8 lets you use your own backgrounds for the Start screen. 

Being able to change the Windows 8 Start screen background images seems to be a natural for Microsoft to support. Why do you think the company didn't put this kind of support in the first place?

Frankly, I'm baffled by it. Android and iOS devices all let you do this. I don't know why Microsoft would lock down something as basic as customizing the background of the Start screen.

What else can you do with Decor8?

That's pretty much the focus for 1.0. Let people customize the Start screen to suit their preferences.

What price are you charging for the software?

Same price as Start8 -- $4.99.

Windows 8 has been in general release for a couple of weeks now. Has your opinion of the OS changed at all since then?

Not really. I still contend that Microsoft should let people completely separate the desktop and mobile touch experiences.

What other Windows 8-based products does Stardock have in the works?

Right now we're focusing on getting software out there that addresses the most obvious issues that affect our Windows customers. Start8 is designed to let people use Windows 8 as a desktop. I'm happy to say that once intalled, a user who just wants to use Windows 8 as an improved Windows 7 experience can do so. We recently released Fences 2, which supports Windows 8. Our upcoming programs will start to address the limitations of the "Modern UI". We also are working on getting our existing product base over to Windows 8 such as DeskScapes and WindowBlinds.

Will Stardock ever publish software on the Windows Store?

Only Metro apps can be on the Windows store. I think there are some great opportunities for up and coming developers there. I expect in the long-run we'll start targeting Metro. But in the near term, we want to do what we can to make Windows 8 compelling for our customer base to make the migration to Windows 8 painless.

Finally, is there anything else you wish to say about Stardock's current and future plans?

It's a great time to be a software developer. Right now, developers can create some really interesting things for Android, iOS, WinRT, Win32, MacOS and even Linux (see the work Valve is doing on Linux). There's never been a time like it. And as a result, there's an unprecedented number of choices for tech consumers. I think we'll look back at this time as the start of a real gold age for tech enthusiasts. It's really exciting.

We would like to thank Brad for answering our questions!

Images via Stardock

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