All of these settings are well and good, but one thing you probably want to know is how well the software performs. A few years ago it was my experience that skinning software slowed things down noticably, but that was also during the Windows XP days and software was an additional layer to the Windows GDI. Brad Wardell (President of Stardock Software) spoke with me and mentioned that WindowBlinds overrides Microsoft’s GDI layer, and is actually four times more efficient at rendering hardware-accelerated windows. Regardless of the technology mumbo-jumbo, there was no noticable slowdown when using WindowBlinds 7 on Windows Vista or Windows 7.
When you change a theme, your desktop blurs and greys out while the new skin is deployed. This can take anywhere from just a few seconds to as many as 30 or more, depending on the skin chosen. You can double-click on a Visual Style to change the entire desktop, but you cannot double-click an option to enable it… you must click the “Apply changes” button in the top left to apply your changes. The usability dynamic is not what most people are used to, and it took me a while to figure this out… and I analyze and test usability for a living.
When I spoke with Brad Wardell last year, I was excited that WindowBlinds worked on Vista, but at the time only worked on the 32-bit version. I moved over to 64-bit a long time ago, primarially to enable more than 4 gigabytes of RAM. I am happy to report that WindowBlinds 7 works just fine on the 64-bit version of Windows 7.
Not everything plays nice with WindowBlinds, however. We take a look on the next page…