Hyperdesk

by The Skins Factory

By on April 13, 2008 8:55:15 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums External Link

messiah1

Join Date 10/2005
+434

So with Hyperdesk just around the corner, is this finally some competition for WindowBlinds?  How well will TSF and Stardock play together?  I know TSF used to contribute here, but they don't show up much anymore, at least with content.  I'm anxiously awaiting the release and can't wait to see DarkMatter.  Hurry up Jeff.  

What are your thoughts?

 

*UPDATE:  Hyperdesk is live.  Go check it out and leave your constructive  comments about it here.  (Notice I didn't say "only leave your good comments or bash it".  Constructive comments can be positive or negative but should be supported with facts.)

 

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April 13, 2008 9:04:02 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
Yep, everyone in the customization network is waiting with baited breath for the first sight of this developement. Jesh and TSF are as talented as anyone on the planet and I'm looking forward to seeing what they will offer.
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April 14, 2008 11:38:15 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
Competition is always a good thing.
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April 14, 2008 11:51:05 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
I've only ever used Windowblinds, which I'm happy with, but it'll be interesting to see.
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April 14, 2008 12:01:32 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
So with Hyperdesk just around the corner, is this finally some competition for WindowBlinds? How well will TSF and Stardock play together?


Competition would normally be taken as they do the same thing. If that is the case how well they play or work together in a desktop environment may not be important. That being said, competition in any environment is good.

I still don't use everything that is available here from Stardock, not sure how to work in other desktop customizing software, to which I'm sure you would agree, there are a few out there.
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April 14, 2008 1:24:33 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Basically the idea behind Hyperdesk is that The Skins Factory is going to release suites (which they're calling "Hypersuites") as a pre-packaged thing that is managed by their theme manager called Hyperdesk.

The idea is sound in general except that it uses a patched uxtheme.dll as its way to apply the GUI "skin" part. I.e. it uses XP msstyles. That's where things, IMO, fall apart.  The problem with the XP uxtheme.dll is 1) it's ancient and 2) it's not supported and 3) patches for uxtheme.dll break.

Now, Jeff Schader, the owner, proprieter of The Skins Factory says they got it working on Windows XP SP3. And good for them. But as we learned from the adventures of TGT Soft, uxtheme patches always get broken. It's not a matter of if, it's when. Microsoft releases updates and they will change files on the system.  That's the problem when you're patching system files. They have no agreement with Microsoft or the rights to use uxtheme.dll. They're literally just patching out the digital signing protection to get their .msstyles to work with it which is a big problem for them in the long run.

Another problem I see is that it's not running on Vista. Now, he says it's going to work on Vista "soon" but I also know he's running around right now trying to find someone to crack the Vista system files necessary to get Vista msstyles to work. And it's much much harder to do this sort of thing on Vista than it was on XP (in XP, you just cracked uxtheme.dll, on Vista, it's several files).  Moreover, the .msstyles format on Vista is much more limited than it was on XP where it was literally documented and has an editor available to make themes.

And yet another problem has to do with what he's skinning. The 8-year old msstyles issue is significant on its own. But what about the media players that he shows teaser shots of? Media Player? Winamp? What? Now adays, skinned media players are just not a big deal. People use iTunes or maybe Media Player in normal mode. I was a Winamp fanboy back in the day but these days it's iTunes.

And the biggest problem I see with Hyperdesks is the market. Who is he going to sell this to?  If he's selling what is essentially a .msstyles file bundled with a Winamp or Media Player skin and a few icons how many people are going to be willing to pay for that? 

In other words, the existing skinning community is not likely to line up to buy XP-only msstyles based skins built on 8 year old technology. Therefore, he needs to target the mass market. 

But he has a bigger problem getting to the mass market -- because he's patching Windows system files to do this, he's not going to get preloaded.   Nobody is going to touch him.  You won't see this on Dell or Gateway or HP, or Alienware or any other reputable vendor any time soon.  Another option would be USB memory stick distribution but he runs into the same problem there too. Nobody wants to distribute stuff that hacks system files whether it memory or on disk.  He should have just hired a team to write a skinning engine.

Which is a shame because The Skins Factory makes great art. Sure, most of their skinners now work at Stardock Design these days (the icons in that Sony Ericson skin he's been showing off were made by someone who works at Stardock Design). He still has William Bart, one of the best skinners in the world and Kol who is totally awesome too.  And Jesh is a talented art director. He gets his guys to do great work and I have no doubt that his new stuff will be awesome. I just don't think he's thought through his business model.

So in short, good concept, great art, doomed product imo.  Only time will tell and I wish him luck but that's how I see it.

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April 14, 2008 3:21:24 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
It will be interesting to see what happens.
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April 14, 2008 3:35:24 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
I'm curious on Frogboy's or anyone's thoughts on Cairo as well. Is it meant to be similar to WB or DX?
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April 14, 2008 3:40:43 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
I'm interested to know why you folks call him Jesh...at first, I thought it was a typo, but you all do it. Is it a nick you have for him?
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April 14, 2008 3:51:54 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
I'm interested to know why you folks call him Jesh...at first, I thought it was a typo, but you all do it. Is it a nick you have for him?


I'd imagine some of us would use other names but don't want to lose our posting privileges.
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April 14, 2008 3:54:13 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
I think Jesh was his chosen handle at one point in the past.
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April 14, 2008 3:57:49 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
I'm curious on Frogboy's or anyone's thoughts on Cairo as well. Is it meant to be similar to WB or DX?
I had high hopes for Cairo.  Thought it was an alternative shell, like Litestep.

To me, the fact that they lost all their code does not speak well of the organization.  Good luck to them.  It looked interesting.
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April 14, 2008 4:13:02 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

I'm interested to know why you folks call him Jesh...at first, I thought it was a typo, but you all do it. Is it a nick you have for him?

Thats what he wants to be called... it's a fusion of his first and last name.

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April 14, 2008 4:17:55 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
t's a fusion of his first and last name.


hmmm..

Pedley?
Podley?
Smedpo?


oh...wait...
Jack Nolan......
Joan!!!!!!
LMAO
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April 14, 2008 4:39:34 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
Hello, my name is William Bart - I'm the Lead Artist and Creative Director with The Skins Factory and have been working closely with Jeff Schader for the past 6 years and most recently on the development of our Hyperdesk initiative.

I generally stay out of these things but as Jeff is unable to defend our position himself - Stardock has been blocking all TSF involvement on any of their forums/websites via our IP addresses (so expect no further replies from myself as I expect to be blocked as well) - I feel I should probably step in and address some of these negative comments (all of which seem to be coming from Stardock employees you'll notice)...

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Re: Hyperdesk being a competitor to Windowblinds...

It isn't. Hyperdesk will not allow you to build and distribute your own themes. The Skins Factory is largely a content company, not a technology company. We have no interest in developing or maintaing an ecosystem built from user-generated content.

Hyperdesk is simply a new initiative through which we will be delivering content to the desktop - both exciting original IP by ourselves and licensed commercial IP developed in conjunction with our clients, including some of the world's most prominent technology and entertainment companies (Disney was already mentioned). We have spent many months developing the underlying technology and it is unshakably stable and 100% safe. All this technology does is deliver mind-blowing quality content to your desktop.

Think of it as more of a competitor to My Colors than Windowblinds. Each Hypersuite utilizes it's own installer application - there is no central software component per se. Each installer will allow you to extensively customize your experience with selections from the high-quality assets provided. On launch day it will work flawlessly in XP and development on our Vista solution is proceeding nicely.

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Re: Artists...

Some of Stardock's people have indeed worked with The Skins Factory in the past - however, in most if not all cases these artists were working in 'junior' positions - not producing original content but rather working in a production role under art direction. Each would have been supplied with fully-realized assets, directions and designs developed by myself or other senior artists. While Stardock would have you believe that The Skins Factory's best talent has defected to their camp, I can assure you that this simply isn't the case. In fact, those individuals that have been responsible for 99.9% the quality and innovation The Skins Factory are known for are still now and have always been with the company.

For example, I myself conceived/designed/executed almost everything you'll see in an Alienware release (ALX, Invader, Darkstar) - all theme assembly would have been derived from materials and guidelines supplied by myself in the form of extensive and fully-realized control/frame/layout libraries. As an individual artist, I am also largely responsible for the majority of our other high-profile commercial work - so the talent one associates with The Skins Factory hasn't gone anywhere.

As for Jeff not being an artist, that may be so - however he does not claim to be. Jeff works in close partnership with myself and other select artists and is invaluable to our collective success from both a critical and business standpoint. It must also be said that he himself produces all of our promotional artwork and layouts on our websites, so he is hands-on and not entirely without skill. From a creative standpoint he also has an eye for talent and some great ideas - but little tolerance for mediocrity, which is why some lesser artists have moved on.

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Re: Hyper...

From a purely technological standpoint, what we're doing with Hyperdesk may not be mind-blowing. What will be mind-blowing is what it delivers - some of the most beautiful and impressive content ever to hit the desktop - loaded with unprecedented sleekness and style, dripping with unrivaled quality and the attention to detail The Skins Factory are known for. Darkmatter alone features animations unlike anything youv'e ever seen in any skin on any platform - my jaw drops every time I see them (and I'm the one who created them). Bottom line: expect an extremely exciting experience and you won't be disappointed.

Peace to all -

Billy
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April 14, 2008 4:57:28 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

BTW, William Bart is one of the top skin designers of all time.

That said, I think Treetog, Voo, Alexandrie, MikeB, and others might disagree with the "junior" role. They made many if not most of the skins and icon packages that have come out of The Skins Factory over the years.  I'm really surprised you, as an artist, would characterize the well known talents of Voo, Treetog, Mormegil, etc. as being "junior" in terms of the creation of the content that has come out of The Skins Factory.  

Having seen screenshots of the Ericson theme and a couple of the Disney "hypersuites" I certainly suspect (unless they change dramatically between now and official launch) that most users will notice a significant change from past endeavors. I don't think it's coincidence that the "teasers" that have been released focus on the one strong aspect - the media player skins. 

None of that changes the fact that William Bart is at the 99.9th percentile of skinners out there (his work with BBX, Media Player skins, etc. speak for themselves). 

--

Now for a couple of comments:

I generally stay out of these things but as Jeff is unable to defend our position himself - Stardock has been blocking all TSF involvement on any of their forums/websites via our IP addresses (so expect no further replies from myself as I expect to be blocked as well) - I feel I should probably step in and address some of these negative comments (all of which seem to be coming from Stardock employees you'll notice)...

The Skins Factory isn't blocked from being involved on our forums. Jeff Schader is blocked from participating on our forums and he knows why and it has nothing to do with "competition".  We didn't exile Thomas Dimitry from TGT Soft from our sites, for instance.  If I believed Jeff could behave himself and act like a reasonable adult, I would allow him back on in a second.

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April 14, 2008 6:50:57 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

I'm interested to know why you folks call him Jesh...at first, I thought it was a typo, but you all do it. Is it a nick you have for him?

Jesh was Jeff's nick way back before the origins of TSF, so people who have associated with him a long time tend to use it...

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April 14, 2008 7:04:45 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

but little tolerance for mediocrity, which is why some lesser artists have moved on.

I'd be interested in hearing the artists perspective of why they left. 

I'm also not sure what the point of your post was.  You say that TSF is not a technology company.  OK.  So, why the long flame about everything?  We have never talked about TSF having bad artists, the only discussion we have had was about the technology.

Stardock is a technology and content company.  I think it's reasonable that we will talk about technology when brought up on our site. I'm sure very similar discussion would happen on a SF site if there was one that allowed interaction. However, we never talked about TSF factory having inferior artists or ever bashed on any art.  Art is subjective- technology is not, however.

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April 14, 2008 7:19:58 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

I suspect if someone started posting "teasers" about a game, and that this game allegedly competed with Game company X's similar game but didn't mention that the game was a DOS game that Game Company X would bring up the fact that this "new" game was actually a DOS game.

I've seen the themes and I'm pretty satisfied with the state of MyColors themes in comparison.  But anyone trying to argue that uxtheme patching from 2001 is somehow remotely competitive with WindowBlinds 2008 based technology is being unrealistic.

The skinning world has evolved considerably since 2000 - when uxtheme was developed.  Would anyone here seriously consider *paying* for a theme made in 2000 today?

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April 14, 2008 7:21:24 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
Jesh was Jeff's nick way back before the origins of TSF, so people who have associated with him a long time tend to use it


Got it, thanks.

I hope this doesn't get out of hand here. I was only trying to get some opinions on this new endeavor of TSF, like I said, I'm excited to see what they offer and I'm a fan of their work to date. Hope it stays civil in here.   

Billy Bart - you have my respect as an artist, your stuff is amazing.
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April 14, 2008 7:23:00 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
whoops, doubled meself..
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April 14, 2008 7:41:30 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

 

whoops, doubled meself..

I hope that was as in a "double post" not as in doubling ion weight.  lol

I hope this doesn't get out of hand here.

It won't.  It's just open debate right now.  I know that Stardock has nothing negative to say about TSF artists.  We're pretty confident with our technology and what's been released for MyColors.We also have a really cool bunch of themes in the works right now, so it should be a good time in skinning, especially seeing TSF starting to produce some work again.

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April 14, 2008 7:44:36 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
Cosmos is great. 

Bebi Bulma is happy with Stardock stuff
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April 14, 2008 8:03:51 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

I know that Stardock has nothing negative to say about TSF artists.

TSF's WMP skins are arguably the best WMP skins on the planet.  Anyone who has skinned or been around skinning for any length of time cannot be other than awe-struck by them.

I can't say I've been wildly impressed with anything else TSF-related, however, skinning-related or not...

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April 14, 2008 8:31:33 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
Constantly flaming another company unprovoked at any given chance is always so classy and professional...really sends those warm vibes.
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April 14, 2008 8:36:12 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
I'm curious on Frogboy's or anyone's thoughts on Cairo as well. Is it meant to be similar to WB or DX?I had high hopes for Cairo.  Thought it was an alternative shell, like Litestep.To me, the fact that they lost all their code does not speak well of the organization.  Good luck to them.  It looked interesting.


June 29...
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