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)...
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.
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.
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 -