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Microsoft stole my idea, I wish they'd steal more


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Back when I was running Windows 7 as my primary OS, I got pretty deep into developing and using custom Windows themes, however I'm not talking about the same basic color change/desktop background change themes you would download from official sources like Microsoft themselves; I'm referring to digging into system files containing shell theme resources and images with hex editors, image editors, file hacking tools and system file patching/replacing utilities, allowing for a level of customization not at all possible within Windows with the default set of tools and options Microsoft provides.  I could change the shape and transparency of things like the taskbar, START menu and the title bar for windows and applications (I literally had parts cut out using custom geometric designs so that I could have all my active icons running in the taskbar in a lower area, looking like they are sitting on top of a sheet of glass or within a container, rather than just being squares on a long flat bar of the same size).  I could change the image used for the scrolling glass effect you see when moving windows around in 7/Vista from diagonal reflection lines to anything at all, such as a series of stars of various sizes, images of ghostly glass dragons floating eerily in the background (one of my personal favorites) and pretty much anything else.

One of the things I figured out was that determining which window has focus and which ones are in the background/out of focus was a challenge, because Windows simply changed the level of transparency and color intensity to indicate (in the default Aero Glass theme at least) which applications did and did not have focus, in addition to changing the look of the taskbar buttons.  I decided to change this to make it more obvious, so I set active title bars to a deep blue color and those in the background would change to a bright red, thus making it much more obvious which window has focus.

Now here we are with Windows 10, and Microsoft has stolen my idea.  Out of focus windows now change their title bar and border color to bright red.

If only Microsoft would support fully customizing the look and feel of Windows with actual theme files containing modified image assets (rather than just changes in colors), I could get my full Aero Glass back and play with the look and feel of Windows to my heart's content.  I'm not a fan of flat UIs, so the first thing I would do is bring back the 3D look of Windows Vista and Windows 7.  Maybe I should get into Linux theming.  I've heard good things about the 3D and transparency capabilities of some modern distros.

I know Microsoft will never allow it because they consider the look and feel of Windows to be a part of their marketing and branding, which is likely why they don't allow changing it.  In other words, Microsoft wants to make certain that Windows always looks like Windows.  I can agree to a certain extent, but some of the restrictions Microsoft has implemented (such as completely abandoning Aero Glass; by far the best look/theme they've ever created in my opinion) can be very frustrating to a person like me who likes to tune, tweak and customize things to my own style and liking.

Oh well, I'm glad that at least it is now just as easy to tell which window is active and which ones are in the background using Windows 10 as it was using my heavily modified Windows 7 shell/theme.

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