The coolest effect is ten years old.
Windows 7 has a powerful window-manager called Desktop Window Manager (DWM).
I hope the following information is correct, but my understanding of DWM is very limited so I could be wrong.
The “Aero” effect in Vista/7 is well-known. It’s not just transparent window-frames. It’s also the “stripe” effect. The stripe effect is interesting because it’s not part of the window decoration.
My understanding is that it’s a transparent layer over the desktop wallpaper. I remember seeing this image while digging around in Windows, but I can’t find it now. This image can be seen by using standard Windows 7 Aero theme and the Aero Peek feature.
The stripe effect is independent of the window-frames and doesn’t move with window-frames. It’s static to the desktop background. (Actually the stripe effect in Windows 7 seems not fully static, but somewhat dynamic. So Microsoft might be using a set of transparent images to create the effect). Microsoft was really interested in this a little more than a decade ago:
While Windows is powerful it’s also locked down. So if you don’t like the stripe effect and want to change it to something else you are out of luck. The stripe effect has not been implemented in WindowBlinds as far as I know.
To show you the power behind the stripe effect and what should be possible on Windows (Vista/7), I took screenshots of a very old Linux desktop I recently installed. It’s the only Linux desktop that is capable of reproducing this.
I don’t have the original Windows 7 transparent stripe image, but these screenshots show how it works.
First screenshot shows the current desktop wallpaper being exposed by transparent window-frames.
Second screenshot shows a different wallpaper that is exposed by transparent window-frames.
This is the stripe effect, only difference is that Windows 7 uses a transparent striped image, while my screenshots use opaque regular wallpaper images.
This effect has nothing to do with skinning of window-frames. It’s a separate effect. I kept windows-frames “clean” so the effect would become obvious. You can see that every window-frame is different.
I don’t think we’ll see this effect in the future. It should be perfectly possible to unlock the full potential on Windows 7 though. Changing stripes to snowflakes or using non-transparent images like in the screenshots below. All in the name of science!