Well, Litestep goes a little further than that. A lot further, actually. It can replace the start menu, context menus – in fact the whole thing. As an added bonus, it’s open source, as it basically a Windows port of the X window manager AfterStep.
There are hundreds of themes available on the site (although note that you have to register to download any of the files on the site, although this is free and relatively painless). There are themes based on just about anything you can think of, although the theme browser on the website doesn’t do much categorisation or sorting. (That said, there are also some skins on wincustomize.com, as well)
LiteStep also has many configurable modules that can be used to enhance your theme. If you install a theme that uses a module you don’t have, then I believe LiteStep will download it for you.
Naturally, I’m planning to use this in a very customised virtual machine – I’ll report back when i have something to share on that!
I don’t know whether you’ve ever used it – it’s quite new and still in beta – but FileHippo have launched a new update checker. Very nice, and supports many of the applications I have installed on Vista, including Flock, 7Zip, Flash Player, Foxit Reader, FileZilla, OpenOffice, Picasa…
It’s a useful little tool, but beware: I basically did it to see whether there was an update to CCleaner, and suddenly I found I was downloading about 340MB!
It only supports applications that are downloadable from FileHippo, of course, but there’s probably enough there to update a lot of your system. I’d recommend it, personally.
Before you think I’m an anti-Microsoft stormtrooper, I’d like to explain why.
Java works by using bytecode. It’s interpreted (or, more likely, converted into native machine code by the Java Runtime Environment) as being machine code targeted to a specific design of machine: a particular non-existent (well, when it was invented, anyway) processor and hardware set designed by one of Sun’s best cowboys, James Gosling.
.Net, however, works more like the GNU compiler collection, where everything is compiled to an intermediate language, that is kind of a meta assembler language which works on any processor. There is, actually, precedence for this – the famous Spectrum game Pyjamarama was written that way, and the programmer went on to create TeeOS around the same idea.
So, to come back to why Java is relevant and .Net isn’t, here’s the bottom line: Java is emulated, .Net is compiled.
Except that I also plan to write about obscure programming languages as well. So I suppose .Net, being a compiler inside, is relevant on those grounds.