So as a die hard Windows user, it’s hard for me to admit that I sometimes get bored of the way Windows looks. But I do. Often.
To remedy this, I went to Rainmeter: A fluid, graphic overlay and UI tool that allows the user to pick a theme from a vast archive of user created skin presets and manipulate them to their own specifications. If you invest the time it is an intensely rewarding process, but one that requires a little patience. Best of all it’s entirely free on account of it’s open source nature, so there’s no excuse not to give it a go.
I’ve used earlier versions of Rainmeter before, but never explored the different themes available. As a result I left Rainmeter alone until I saw recently that 2.3 was out, and the screenshots were persuasive enough for me to give it a go. The main difference is the overall skin management interface, which works much more effectively and smoothly than in earlier versions. Apart from that there’s not much difference, with many of the user created themes retaining compatibility with the new version.
Rainmeter isn’t the only software out there offering custom UI design, RocketDock is known for its impressive emulation of the Mac OS Layout in particular and is a very lightweight program that like Rainmeter, can hardly be called hungry on system resources.
This is the first desktop layout I put together, it took very little time on account of the minimalism:
Installing a new skin is particularly ease via Customize, a theme bank that offers direct installation through Rainmeter. With Rainmeter installed, just click the download link of your chosen skin, and choose to open with Rainmeter. You can kick back for the rest.
The great thing about Rainmeter is that it inspires you to be creative, and some of the skin authors include wallpapers that really illustrate the importance of choosing a wallpaper to suit the UI you’re looking for. It’s best to make a custom Rainmeter Wallpapers folder and set your background to scroll through them regularly for the best effect. Some Rainmeter skins even have elements that do this for you as a PIP slideshow, and simply clicking the image changes the desktop background to that chosen wallpaper.
I personally favour the “Serenity” theme, which I’m in the process of tweaking to suit my needs as I type, work in progress below:
There’s no limit to the different styles you can try, even whilst writing this, I’ve had a tinker with a few I normally wouldn’t consider but totally see the appeal to others:
Overall, well worth the time on a rainy Sunday if you fancy giving your desktop a good pimping. It would also, as a footnote, be nice to see this kind of open source collaboration spread into the smartphone realm. Just as a thought.