My Windows 7 Dream Desktop
I decided to go ahead and respond to the Clubhouse Challenge: Show Off Your Windows 7 Desktop thinking it would be rather easy. But, because mine is a little different, it wasn’t just a simple screen capture. I ended up installing a demo of Camtasia which, I am happy to report, worked well on Windows 7. Camtasia is software that lets you make a movie of your computer screen as a screen recorder. And, if you’re not a member of the Clubhouse, you can apply at that link above.
One of the features that I dearly miss from Vista Ultimate is Dreamscene, and fortunately, almost as soon as Windows 7 was in beta, someone figured out how to add it to Windows 7 manually. I guess I’m not the only one who misses it! Dreamscene runs in both the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of the desktops, but at this point in time all we can actually test it on is Windows 7 Ultimate RC1. So, I don’t know if it’ll work in any other versions once Windows 7 is launched on October 22, 2009. In fact, I can’t be certain it’ll even work in any future version of Windows 7 at all, whatever they end up calling it. But we do know that it was strictly a Vista Ultimate feature, and as such, many users have never seen it.
It’s an interesting thought to wonder if one could add it to any version of Vista, such as the Home Premium version, using the same techniques presented below. It basically involves just a couple files being in the correct place and running a registry update. Some daring sole will try this. I cannot. I only have Vista Ultimate which already has Dreamscene.
Anyway, installing it in the 32 bit desktop is a little easier than the 64 bit apparently. I don’t have a 32 bit version handy, but the 64 bit version was a snap. I had no difficulty installing the 64 bit setup myself, and I think anyone could do this easily. If you would like to try it out (at your own risk of course) the instructions can be found here: How to Install and Enable DreamScene in Windows 7
Officially Dreamscene has been removed, and it appears that it won’t be supported in Windows 7. What a shame! Maybe they’ll revive the old Windows Plus! Packs and sell it in one.
I first saw Dreamscene at the Vista launch event here in Phoenix several years ago. For what one might consider a minor eye candy feature, the crowd loved it. Dreamscene was one of the added bonuses that helped me to decide to go with the Ultimate Edition, but there were many other reasons as well. Unfortunately, it took Microsoft about a year to make good on the promise when it finally showed up as an Ultimate Extra; I impatiently waited. I expect the delay was because of CPU demand problems and other issues. But when I got it, I always used it on both my laptop and desktop. I did this without fail.
So, it’s fitting that I show my Windows 7 desktop with the very same Dreamscene demo’d at the launch event. But because it’s Dreamscene, which is basically a movie itself, I will, of course, have to make a movie of the screen.
I switch the theme regularly so this is only one of the Dreamscene desktops that I use. One other that I wanted to demo, one I made myself from someone else’s clip, and really like, is also of a waterfall that fills the entire screen. But, because of the rendering in smaller resolution a lot of the detail is lost, and it doesn’t look so excellent.
But the first one is good, and it really has special significance as the first Dreamscene I ever saw. I actually figured out which waterfall this was when I first started using it. Microsoft doesn’t tell you. But it’s been so long that I have forgotten. Oh well – maybe I can bing it.
Here is a static image of that other desktop I regularly use. This is the one that loses something when Camtasia makes a movie out of it. But you can visualize, right?
I’ve made the movie and image about as large as they’ll go. The small size makes seeing the details difficult, and I apologize for that. I’ll put some close ups of the task bar here. It may be wrong of me, but I use the terms “taskbar button” and “taskbar icon” sort of interchangeably. Old habits… In Windows 7 I think of it as an icon when it has no running instances and as a button when it does. Why? Well, because it looks like a button when it’s running. Anyway, don’t be confused. In this discussion they are the same thing. But I think icon is the correct term.
Wow – it’s still to small. If you’re using Windows 7, you can use the magnifier to see what’s in there – if you care… They are the small style icons so I can keep a lot of them on one row. The task bar is two rows high. The icons/buttons move around a lot, anyway, on my system. That’s one of the nice things about Windows 7. Taskbar position is no longer based on the order the application was opened. You can just drag them where you want them. You can also see my taskbar autohides.
Oh, you may have noticed a couple things in the video that don’t translate well. Once or twice in the video I held down the shift key while I right clicked an taskbar button and get this:
This presents the context menu that would appear when you just right clicked (no shifting) on an taskbar button in Vista and prior. If you just right click in Windows 7, you’ll get the jump list.
Anyway, you should try playing around with the accelerator/modifier keys as they add features you might not otherwise discover. For example, holding the shift key while clicking a taskbar button opens a new instance of the program, and holding the control key down while clicking a taskbar button cycles through all that buttons running instances bringing them to the surface sort of like an alt-tab but just for that application. A cntl-alt-tab opens the alt-tab display but keeps it open after you release the keys. Then you can arrow in any direction with the arrow keys to bring to the surface that particular application. This is handy. This is just like how windows-alt-tab brings up the rolodex view you normally get with windows-tab yet keeps it open after you release the keys. The modifiers with the arrow keys are fun too.
So, there it is. Now I need to figure out how to grab the other extras too! I’m sure someone has done that already.