DeskScapes 8.1

Reviewed by Gary Oldwood

"DeskScapes animates your desktop background."

Overview

If you like customizing your desktop, why just stop at Windows 7’s ability to change wallpapers every X minutes? With DeskScapes you can change your desktop in many ways and make it look exactly how you want it. Included in it are more than 40 special effects and features that allow you to select videos and pictures as your wallpaper, plus create animations using the DREAM format.

Installation

To install the program just follow the installation wizard and it will guide you through all of the steps. At some point early in the procedure you will be asked whether you want to install the free trial of Fences 2, another software by Stardock. Make your decision and then move on to the next couple of steps, after which the main installation process will begin.

The setup package is clean from Trojans, viruses and other types of malware.

Supported operating systems are Windows 7, 8 and 8.1

Interface

If you want to use the program in trial mode you’ll have to register your email first before you can do so. Afterwards you’ll be brought to the configuration screen which has several wallpapers for you to choose from. They’re listed in thumbnail view, therefore it’s easy to know if you like one or not. Clicking on one will show a bigger preview of it along with a description and the available settings for it. This is basically DeskScapes’ interface; from here you can configure everything regarding its wallpapers.

Pros

There are many static and animated wallpapers available in DeskScapes, but you can download even more backgrounds from WinCustomize. The static ones can be configured by adjusting their position when your resolution and their size don’t match, by applying one of the various effects (e.g. alien world, black and white, blue sky filter, blur desaturate, fuzzy focus, nightvision, porthole and a lot others) and also by changing colors in the image (or a part of it). For animated backgrounds on the other hand (which are called “Dreams”), apart from being able to apply the same effects as in static wallpapers you can also change settings that are unique for each Dream. For instance, the Desktop Earth dream’s settings allow you to change the speed of the earth’s rotation.

DreamMaker, a tool that goes with DeskScapes, gives you the power to create your own Dream files from a single video file, multiple video files, DLL files or Hybrid files. Obviously you can add information such as name, description and author information in them as well.

Multiple monitors are supported.

Cons

The option to disable DeskScapes isn't located in an obvious place; it’s in the Help menu (last button from the right), a rather unrelated place.

When we tested the program with Aero effects and transparency disabled and tried to apply a Dream, a warning popped up from DeskScapes and asked if it should attempt to fix the problem (the problem being Desktop Windows Manager being disabled). Clicking Yes resulted in a state that had the classic Windows theme enabled (looking really bad) and of course no Dream was applied.

The most important issue however is that it uses a lot of system resources.

Alternatives

A program called DreamRender (paid) is an alternative that is a lot less powerful than DeskScapes; in fact, it’s very buggy (has trouble loading Dream files and videos) and has very few options. Microsoft had released its own tool for setting videos as wallpapers and it’s called DreamScene (free) but it’s only useful for applying videos as wallpapers.

Conclusion

DeskScapes is a really cool program that will enhance your desktop. Although a little heavy for a system, it’s worth it if it doesn't cause significant slow-down.

Requirements: Windows Vista, Windows 7

What's new in this version: Windows 7 support added. Hybrid Dream support added. Static wallpaper support added. Effects that can be applied to wallpaper (static and video) added

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Antivirus information

Download3K has downloaded and tested DeskScapes on 30 Oct 2013 with some of Today's best antivirus engines and you can find below, for your convenience, the scan results:
  • Avast:

    Clean
  • Avira:

    Clean
  • Kaspersky:

    Clean
  • NOD32:

    Clean
DeskScapes Antivirus Report
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