From technology to politics to video games; these are the random thoughts of a geek with too much time on his hands

WindowBlinds 6 has been a big deal for us the last few months with all the new capabilities it brings to skinning Windows Vista and Windows XP.  Combined with the new version of SkinStudio, we're expecting a renewed interest in skinning and a jump in great content to pick from on the site.  Though, for a lot of people, they look at screenshots and recent skins and go "Meh, so what?  What's so new about this?" 

Sometimes I guess it's hard to see what's changed when you've followed every incremental update to the software.  So, I thought it'd be fun to step through the WindowBlinds Gallery and get a look at what skins have looked like over the history of WindowBlinds.  To do this, I went through to the first skins on the site and started moving forward in time, so I could see what all has changed.  Personally, it amazes me how different skins are now versus then.

So lets step into the wayback machine and see what we find...

While WinCustomize itself wasn't around back then, we did manage to pull in a bunch of skins from the years BWC (Before WinCustomize) so our gallery had that historical perspective.

The very first skin in our WinCustomize gallery is from December 30th, 1998, the Object Desktop 2001 skin from none other than Frogboy himself.  If the date on the skin is to be trusted, this even predates the 1.0 version of WindowBlinds, which according to the Wiki, wasn't released until September of 1999[1].

While this doesn't hold the honor of being SkinID 1 (that was removed by the original author), it is likely the oldest WindowBlinds skin you'll ever come across.
Yet another skin by Frogboy, who you'll find frequently mentioned in the archives, back in the day when he had more free time to skin.

(we hear he's busy "running a company" now... psssh whatever!)
This is the first skin in the gallery that isn't attributed to Frogboy, and the first (of what will be many) holiday themed skin.  Built and uploaded by Masashi Ickikawa, a user so old I can't even find them in the database, it shows off how skins don't just have to be techy inspired and can be more fun and light.

Oh, and it's technically the lowest Skin ID on the site, clocking in at SkinID 5


At first, you'll notice that most skin previews were of a skinned notepad window and a bit of text with the skin name and author information.  Things changed though in early 1999, skinners moved away from notepad previews to shots that showed off more of the skin elements themselves (windows, boxes, buttons etc.)

Originally posted in June of 1999, Destruction by Decoder is a great example of the new preview method people began using.  The skin itself is a nice example of how skins began to evolve away from emulations of other operating systems, and move more into being original creations and designs.

Imagine how much more popular Windows 98 would have been with a default interface like this.
Oh, it's an LCARS skin!  By "Death" in June of 1999, this skin shows off the ability to use more complex image elements in window borders.  It's a great example of how folks really started to get creative with their skins, and didn't necessarily care about keeping it small if it meant a cooler look.
Video game inspired skins can be some of the coolest and most visually interesting out there when done right.  This is, from what I can tell, the second such skin in the gallery (the first being Zerg Viscid by BaT).

GGame skins have been in short supply in recent years, I'd love to see them make a comeback.\

The fourth skin by DavidK really shows off how people start to take incredibly creative directions with their WindowBlinds skins.  It's a great example of artists transforming the user interface into something that no one really imagined before.

This is also a great skin to peek at since it's an early entry from one of the community's most veteran skinners.  Nice to see where they started.


I wanted to toss this one onto the list before closing 1999 out because it shows a skin preview generated by BuilderBlinds, the predecessor to SkinStudio.  Just another glimpse at how much things have changed over the years.

StardockOJ is a pretty interesting skin by CRUMBUT.

So that brings us from the first skins, the ones before even WindowBlinds 1.0 was out, up to some of the first skins using WindowBlinds 2 (beta) features and the first glimpses of BuilderBlinds previews. 

In Part 2, we'll cover 2000 - 2003 to show the evolution from WindowBlinds 2.0 to 4.0, the version that really started catching people's attention.  Expect that later this week.

Comments (Page 1)
on Oct 15, 2007
I can remember when WB first came out. I got it right away. Even tho I had some crashes I liked it.

Fact I have some of the older versions on a storage HD
on Oct 15, 2007
How fun! thanks Z   
on Oct 15, 2007
Even tho I had some crashes

Oh that is so not true   
on Oct 15, 2007
Wow, I actually remember many of these and the authors. Makes me wonder what I will be running ten years from now on my system. Fun article
on Oct 15, 2007
DavidK - I remember him. I too have some of the 'golden oldies' archived on external disk.
I seem to recall that DavidK wrote his skins in Notepad and did the graphics with M$Paint!
They were some of the slickest of the bunch.
I wonder if any are worth resurrecting and updating...
on Oct 15, 2007
I actually remember some of these. I used 100 Camels for a while...seems like yesterday to this old geezer!   
on Oct 15, 2007
Actually I made the Holiday Skin too.  It was a port of a Kaleidoscope skin and when I got permission to make the skin that was part of the agreement that he got credit.
on Oct 15, 2007
I remember these .. takes me back. I remember trying to run LS and WB together...actually.. i still do... wow some things never change... xcept now, neither crashes my PC...

I once found a tree chart with the complete history of gui customization from the early years of changing wallpapers and colors to editing files to get new images placed.. it also followed each skinning programs evolution including LS and WB. it showed their progress from birth to current day (this was like year 2000)and/or demise, as well as when split offs were done. I wish i could still find was very informative...
on Oct 15, 2007
I'm hoping that part 2 (2000-2003) covers a certain skin released in 2003 based on a browser that was born out of the ashes of Netscape... At the time, it even qualified for bundling with WB (version 4 at the time, if I remember correctly). My name has changed since then, but I've kept some sort of link in the name: DannyDPX <- D P X <- -DarkPhoeniX-...

Of course, whether I make any more skins is dependant on how easily I get to grips with skinning on Vista.
on Oct 15, 2007
Wow, I didn't realize that window blinds was so old!
on Oct 15, 2007
David K was one of the finest skinners ever. His "Chrome Tube" skin is one of THE greatest skins.
And don't forget the animated "Dark Knite" skin by Mercury. Oh and "Toxic" too..... hehe, I could go on and on.
on Oct 15, 2007
Anyone remember the "mud" skin that came out in the WB3 days? Of course it's a little new for this article, probably suited for the next one, but I'm still wondering...

It was a green glass type of skin with silver/gray parts to it. It's no longer on the website as I think it got lost in that Wincustomize server crash that happened a while back and was never recovered.
on Oct 15, 2007
Thug Life by Praxxis Was my Favorite of that time.  
on Oct 15, 2007
I can't promise I'll feature everyone's favorite skin, but I'm looking for suggestions as to what you'd like to see and why    Can't hurt the next article to have a little bit of "community voice" added 
on Oct 15, 2007
Wow, some of them are nicer than what comes out now!