A number of software utilities can extend the possibilities for skinning the Windows desktop. These software packages are referred to as desktop extenders. There are also tools that allow you to create custom toolbars and other custom interface components. For example, Stardock's ObjectBar enables you to create custom desktop toolbars for Windows. Figure 14.3 shows the same MacPC skin shown in Figure 14.2. However, a custom Start menu and taskbar have been applied using ObjectBar.
Figure 14.3. ObjectBar greatly enhances the Mac skin.
Now the Windows GUI looks and operates much more like a Mac than it does without the possibilities provided by ObjectBar. So, the use of ObjectBar is one way to enhance the capabilities of any skin you create.
As already mentioned, another way to enhance the Windows desktop (and your skins) is using a desktop extender program. We discuss these programs in more detail later in the chapter, but here is a good example of a desktop extender. Stardock's DesktopX provides an environment in which you can create custom mini-applications called widgets. So, in a nutshell, desktop extenders not only allow you to change the appearance of the Windows desktop, but also allow you to enhance the functionality of the desktop with widgets. Figure 14.4 shows the default Windows XP desktop, but DesktopX has been enabled and provides several desktop widgets. These include a calendar, a clock, an email widget (for checking email), and a widget that enables you to do a Google search without opening Internet Explorer (Internet Explorer opens automatically when you start the search).
Figure 14.4. DesktopX provides widgets on the Windows desktop.
Desktop extenders such as ObjectBar and DesktopX enable you to go beyond skinning in terms of how the interface operates. Let's take a closer look at Stardock's ObjectBar. We can then take a more complete look at desktop extender programs such as DesktopX.