Let me respond to some of the points raised here:
1) Why are the graphics encrypted? Because when we did MyColors themes with licensed content, the license holders required it. However, on OUR stuff, we don't have to encrypt (just that MyColors doesn't currently support non-encrypted skins). Therefore, we are going to look at allowing Object Desktop users to get .suite files.
2) Why doesn't make skins anymore? First off, skinners aren't slaves. The community has no right to demand that individuals labor for them.
Let's face it, the so called community now is treated as dumb Joe user customers, not community anymore.
No, the community is being treated precisely as it now asks: like customers. The fact is, the vocal majority of the so-called "community" are purely consumers now. The days where "the community" rolled up their sleaves and wrote software, made lots of skins and themes, and so forth has long gone.
Nowadays, the "community" (and I'm not speaking about WinCustomize users but the entire skinning community) basically just sits back and waits for Stardock to solve all their problems while complaining the whole time about everything we do.
And the cold hard reality is that there is very very little incentive to keep being the baby daddy for the do-nothing elements of "the community".
In the PC gaming world, people love Stardock. Our games get great reviews, have huge loyal fan bases and make millions in sales and these are on things that are sold for $50 a piece.
Meanwhile, in the "skinning community" we spend months making a kick ass theme for $10 and all we get is grief.
Face it, this is the way Stardock is run now. There nearly is nothing left of the company I loved so much for years (and I still haven't given up upon), which makes me really sad.
Stardock didn't change. The community did. It moved from being a symbiotic relationship between users, skinners, and developers (remember all those times I used to say that?) to one where the users basically take on the role of entitlement. They just want to be consumers but not take on the consequences of being consumers - having to pay money to other people to make things for them.
Great skinners were bought in and rarely do any free skins nowadays anymore (in opposite to what was told us when that all began).
No. Great skinners faded away and STARDOCK brought them back into skinning by hiring them full time to get back into skinning. If you think Treetog or MikeB or Alexandrie or whoever would be cranking out great free skins still after 9 years you're kidding yourself. People's interests change over time and skinning is very laborous. Skinning is supposed to be fun. It's a hobby for people and people come and go. When "the community" stopped coming forward with great new skinners, we had start doing that too. Luckily, there's still some fantastic community skinners out there but it's nothing like it used to be.
Brad, You may demote me for these open words (again), but I still hope You rethink the business model Stardock is run a bit. You do great software and Stardock Design does great skins and I defend it where I can, but some things aren't just right IMHO and are getting worse every month.
Actually, the argument is the other way around. Consumers need to make the case as to why Stardock should continue supporting "the community" at all. The ONLY reason MyColors themes are still being focused towards "the community" at all is because of Karmagirl and the skinners who still want to support the community.
Me? I'm too disgusted with the constant bitching and whining from a group that used to be self-sustaining but now sits back waiting for Stardock to give them everything.
"The community" has ceded the entire skinning world to us and we never asked for that burden. Hell, even TGT Soft is dead. The closest thing "the community" has to an alternative to Stardock at this point is The Skins Factory who make us look like bloody hippies in comparison.
Where's the next Hoverdesk or Rocketdock update or Litestep or whatever?
You talk about how it used to be. Let's talk about how it used to be. At the start of this, the community made its own skins, themes, icons, etc. There were developers making things like eFX and Chroma and Litestep and Hoverdesk and on and on. Now look at it. The so-called "community" basically just sits on their butts waiting for us to release a new program and now we're stuck making the skins and icons and themes too. Heck, we have to make the freaking tutorials and writeups ourselves now too.
At least in gaming there's modders and such. The customization community used to be like that too. But not anymore, now it's the equivalent of people wanting us to make the software and make the mods too and complain about the way we do the mods for them.
If it weren't for a handful of generous, talented, wonderful artists who still share their awesome skins, themes, and icons, we'd be carrying the whole burden. Remember the original unspoken social contract? We make the software. The community makes the skins. Not anymore though.
So here's my answer to those complaining about encrypted graphics or the whopping $9.95 price tag or whatever: Make your own damn stuff. Start skinning. Support people who are making skins and themes. Pick up a book and start writing some software. But until then, get off our asses and quit acting like a bunch of welfare cases. We'll bend over backwards to help people. But it gets hard to have sympathy for groups of people who a) resent having to pay $10 for a massive artwork undertaking and think they are entitled to to do whatever they want with our artwork.
If people want to do stuff with our skins and themes (modify them or make ports or whatever) that's fine. Just ask or tell us what you want. But what we don't like is the air of entitlement. We're willing to help you make ports and such. But don't act like you're entitled to our artwork or us jumping through special hoops. Treat us with the same level of respect you expect to be treated with.
Because at the end of the day, Stardock is a business. We are in this to make a profit. We have always been in this to make a profit. And if the community isn't going to get off its ass and start making stuff, then you force us to make it for you and we're not going to do it for free because we have to pay people to do it. The "good will" of the community has long long been squandered by whiney unsupportive posts.
Now, for most people reading this, we thank you for your support. When I tar "the community" the people who I'm aiming it at know what I speak of. There's a long history that those of you newer to skinning are probably not aware of. We're talking about the old guard who were around back in the early days of skinning who want the benefits of those days without the responsibility. That community, as far as I can tell, is long gone. What we have today is a different type of community of more casual, mainstream users who simply want to get a thing that works and don't care if the images are encrypted or if they require a slick, easy to use client to apply the skins. Those in old guard community who have a problem with that know what they need to do.