UxStyle beta now available

Rafael Rivera from Within Windows has announced that UxStyle Core beta is now available for download.

To give us some information on what UxStyle Core is, we'll start with a little history. Back in the Windows XP days, users were able to modify a system file called Uxtheme.dll and create custom .msstyle files, thus creating their own desktop themes to replace the default "Luna" theme.

However, over time, patching went from just one file to multiple files and re patching was necessary when Microsoft would update the Uxtheme.dll files. When Windows Vista came, not only did it get complex, many problems arose such as stability issues, users replacing system files with malicious copies, non-functional copies, setting up incorrect folder permissions, and so forth.

Enter UxStyle, the solution to the current problem of patching. It consists of a service, and a kernel driver. The service enables and disables the custom theme support and the kernel driver handles the patching. While it currently doesn't have a theme manager or UI, it has the bare minimum needed to enable third-party theme support. This means no more manual patching and risk messing something up along the way.

There are currently two versions:

  • UxStyle Core which offers functionality closest to the pre-patched files as possible and is free.
  • UxStyle Premium which Same as core, but has live/automatic updates, and additional code to correct the "Windows Aero" theme name issue in the Appearance Settings window on Windows Vista/7. Final pricing has not yet been announced.
The final release is planned towards the end of 2009, around the time Windows 7 will be released.

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The fear that people will make drastic changes to the UI all over the place thus breaking that familure consistancey everyone knows with regards to the Windows UI.

This also makes it a damn mess for any customer service center if someone calls in and you try to walk them through some steps, but they don't match because someone decided they wanted to change the UI to the point where things are different enough.

What MS lets you do in Win7 is for the most part at the limit of customization without going into anything drastic.

GP007 said,
The fear that people will make drastic changes to the UI all over the place thus breaking that familure consistancey everyone knows with regards to the Windows UI.

This also makes it a damn mess for any customer service center if someone calls in and you try to walk them through some steps, but they don't match because someone decided they wanted to change the UI to the point where things are different enough.

What MS lets you do in Win7 is for the most part at the limit of customization without going into anything drastic.

So permanently bind one keystroke to "switch off all customizations for the remainder of the session?"

GP007 said,
The fear that people will make drastic changes to the UI all over the place thus breaking that familure consistancey everyone knows with regards to the Windows UI.

This also makes it a damn mess for any customer service center if someone calls in and you try to walk them through some steps, but they don't match because someone decided they wanted to change the UI to the point where things are different enough.

What MS lets you do in Win7 is for the most part at the limit of customization without going into anything drastic.

The changes you can make via msstyles are too superficial to run into these issues.

who needs to patch Vista/7 themes? Me - not. Aero is the best theme. It is so not annoying. You have only to find the right color for yourself.

Windows XP had to be patched, because their themes were to bright for LCDs. I used in XP ages the Opus OS from ~b0se.

I agree. I've only seen a handful of truly good 3rd party themes for XP and Vista/Win7 already have a great default theme so there isn't that much incentive to change the theme. OSX also does just fine with its only theme.

cpu said,
who needs to patch Vista/7 themes? Me - not. Aero is the best theme. It is so not annoying. You have only to find the right color for yourself.

Windows XP had to be patched, because their themes were to bright for LCDs. I used in XP ages the Opus OS from ~b0se.

I need to patch it because the blue toolbars are extremely ugly.

TruckWEB said,
I wonder when Stardock will release their ObjectDesktop for Win7 x32 AND x64 ??


Should be in a few months now that the beta for Windows Blinds is out. Most of the other OD programs already work.

Speaking from experience when I worked for Apple we were indeed set to support schemes. Some of you may remember the great Mac program called Kaleidoscope? It was finally decided that we just could not be responsible for the potential access to the system by malicious third party sources. Most skinners are great, but then there are some that have caused mayhem. I know Microsoft feels the same way. Once the computer and OS become the property, so to speak, of the end user, then they can do whatever they feel like doing.

It wasn't just a matter of letting the OS read a different set of png's. It was also a matter that sometimes the themes or skins would come in .exe format. Don't get me wrong I am all for skinning, theming, whatever you want to call it, in fact on several of my computers I have different themes, but when you are releasing an Operating System to the public you must take a few considerations into mind. One of those is, and was to address third party changes of the OS, and while we loved some of the skins at time we felt that it just wasn't the right thing to do.

kiddies can't survive unless they have their eye-candy. Daddy buys them a car and the first thing they do is add a "Alpine Stereo" sticker on the windshield to make their 'Delco Radio' l33t.

Or, OR, maybe the kiddies spend a lot of time behind their computers, or like me are employed to sit behind a computer, and custom themes make them more at home with their computers. If I spend 12 hours a day sat behind a computer, I would prefer to have an interface that's pleasing to the eye.

Just because you don't want to skin your windows doesn't make you right and us wrong.

shortyg32 said,
stardock and http://www.wincustomize.com/ will exploit and Ruin this 100% and charge money for every skin / theme / style they can claim is premium

This is nothing to do with Windowblinds, and in any case, why the hell shouldn't skin authors get paid? Are you that arrogant?

So what if they're affiliated? Microsoft, Apple, Google, and just about every other company out there gets hammered on a day to day basis. Stardock should be no exception.

Anyway, I completely agree with what he's saying. It's bad enough that many of the skins on wincustomize are ugly as sin, but the ones that are actually half decent get a "premium" sticker attached. What nonsense is that?

I really don't see new Windows 7 skins showing up on wincustomize only. Heck, the only thing wincustomize has is Windows Blinds skins. If you want truly decent skins for XP, DeviantART is the place to go. I'm not sure about Vista, though Vista looks great by itself. As for Windows 7, I'm hoping we'll have a chance to see more great artists continue delivering content.

I also don't mind paying a small amount for a decent theme. It just has to be a decent theme. o.x

it works great! using it on vista atm, if you want themes just have a peek on deviantart, theres plenty of real MSSTYLES themes :D
right here!

I'm also quite contempt with the Vista and now 7 visual styles. I used to use custom themes on XP for a little while until they released the Royale which was perfect for me since the one thing that annoyed me the most was the ugly titlebars and taskbar which Rolaye made look nice and glassy. Haven't used a 3rd party theme since.

But to each their own - some people like to make their computers look like from a movie and if that makes them happy then let them be. For me, Win 7 looks amazing without any 3rd party customizations. All I have felt the need for ever was to change the color variant of the glass effect and pick the desktop backgrounds that I like the most (the ones included with Win 7 are more than good enough for me) and the ability to switch them every X minutes is also very welcome - keeps your desktop a little less stagnant.

And honestly, I have seen very few really good themes for XP (haven't bothered looking since I switched to Vista). But I remember about there being about 100+ variations of Royale, 500+ OS X rip offs and about 3 - 4 unique ones that were well done all around. Tons of themes looked great on screen shots at first until you start using them and start seeing all the defects in Explorer and imperfections in various other places which for me ruins the whole experience.

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