Tweaking and customizing Windows is a major element of what people do with their PC. Neowin.net's own sidebar has an entire section dedicated to Customization websites. There are about 50,000 posts on Neowin just about Windows customization.
As we do each year, we take a look at the state of skinning. Where things stand, and where things are going.
Our conclusion: 2007 was not a great year. Windows Vista made it more difficult to create customization software and content. Spotty support for Vista X64, and the fragmentation of Windows users between XP and Vista made it hard for skinners to pick a target to support.
While there were some bright points last year, there were plenty of boo-boos. Stardock's DesktopX 3.5 never materialized. The Windows Sidebar is a joke. Yahoo finished sucking the soul out of Konfabulator.
In addition, skinning has become incredibly popular. It's not just mainstream these days, it's ubiquitous. As a result, talented skinners are finding careers across the industry creating things for Adobe Air, Microsoft Silver Light, and countless other up and coming platforms.
In 2008, the transition to Vista in terms of software should be largely complete. X64 support should start to become more consistent. And the polish factor should improve.
The full State of Skinning article is very long but goes over alternative shells, msstyles, WindowBlinds, etc. Note that my day job is at Stardock so I'm obviously more familiar with what Stardock is doing than other companies but I've tried to cover everything relevant.