Shell Failuresby Matt Cholick
I recently wrapped up an experiment with alternative shells: After trying out both Blackbox and LiteStep, I wasn't happy with either. I'll admit that I didn't give them very long. The skins seem to be made by people whose philosophy is that the desktop should be there for nice pictures rather than working space. I like my desktop background as much as the next person and do put a lot of effort into finding nice artwork at places like Deviant Art. However, all that is secondary to having a working space of files, folders, and a collection of commonly used icons. In my LiteStep experiment, the shell just wasn't fully integrated into the desktop. I still had icons of some form, but they were just pictures - I couldn't drag folders or files onto the desktop from explorer. I'll admit there are probably ways to customize around that, however, the philosophy behind what the designers were doing seemed to be form over function. And I just wasn't that impressed with Blackbox.
There is real potential though. For example, someone could build hotspots into a background. Here is a theme that has built in shortcuts to programs. They're integrated into the desktop background - quite neat. This one is interesting as well. It incorporates various useful information into a desktop. Things like RAM use, swap space, cpu load, uptime, and other information are built into the wallpaper and refresh dynamically. I'd love to see this in Windows itself.
Note: this wasn't my original first blog post. Over the years, I've implemented this site quite a few times. This is simply the first post to survive all the migrations.