I’ve recently come across Aston Shell, which basically is a replacement for Windows Explorer shell, something like litestep, but it’s not free (28$).
I have read about its lightness: low resource requirements, speed, reliability.
Well I’m trying it at home and at work, and I must say that it has great performances!
You need about 1 hour to customize it to fullfil your needs (colors, shortcuts, and so on), but then it will work like a charm.
It has some limitation, though, expecially on mouse usage.
My advice is to give it a try; it has a switch which lets you go back to Windows Explorer by just logging off (no reboot needed).
I’ve always experienced problems of skipped and cut notes when rendering songs which make intensive usage of NI Kontakt, expecially while being online. Now I’ve tried rendering a troubled song to 32 bit/44khz/cubic while online, and the result is much better, almost perfect.
Just for this, I could even use it just for rendering songs; this alone would be a bonus which would let me avoid a lot of headaches.
I ran bblean for a couple of days but i had some issues with it aswell, first of all bbinterface didnt save the buttons properly and once it even deleted them all, and if you’ve tried bblean you know that its not exactly drag and drop to get stuff working so i ditched it and went back to a rather minimized windows. Tried sphere too but it had some even more serious issues with the actual function of the “sphere” feature itself.
Gimme bblean without the bugs and ill ditch the windowslook alltogether.
Tried Aston for a while…
I don’t notice it is really faster than the Windows shell, but i run my windows shell in the old classic '98 mode without fancy animations and transparancy settings.
Another thing i find annoying is the desktop icons that are stuffed away in a startmenu-folder rather than taken in account in the new shell environment and another annoying thing is that if you want to change properties you get the unexpected surprise of getting the shortcut to the .lnk file rather than you get the real lnk properties visible and modifyable.
It looks cool, but doesn’t offer any real alternative for the true Windows shell.
i’ve tested bblean too … fast and nice but as vvoois said - there is no real alternative to the windows desktop user interface.
the basics of windows usability (e.g. menu drag’n’drop) should be preserved in a replacement. and for me a replacement means that i don’t need hours for adjusting my desktop etc. again.
a replacement should replace the user interface only, not my whole desktop configuration. that’s the most annoying point for me … bblean, object desktop, aston … all software for fun, not for serious work … let’s wait for Vista or MAC OS 10.5 with intel/amd power ;o)