Bblean genuinely improves usablility for me, and StyleXP looks SEXY. Windowblinds looks good but is dog-slow, and a few of the complete shell replacements look like way too much frill.
Decide what you want the shell for; some really do have better features, like window snapping, shading and workspaces.
Basically such frills may look astonishing and eye catching at first sight
but eventually they hog up lots of resources and ultimately hamper the e desitred performance.
Rather than opting for shell enhancem,ents check out for shell replacements like Longhorn transformation or Crystal XP which may take up memeory bu don't consume too much space
Also they don't run as seperate programs which can be unloaded at will.
They need to be unistalled completely...
I find that window shell programs work great as long as you have the ram to hold them.
I am using window blinds... use to not be a fan of it... but then i upgraded my ram and tried it again and it works great. StyleXP is another program that used in the past that was pretty good as well.
I dont recommend anything like styleXP as it just bloats the system that is already bloated OS.
Personally i like running bblean because it is based off one of the better (IMO) window mangers available for linux and unix, blackbox.
what this does is you shutdown explorer.exe all together and run bblean.exe in its place and it doesnt add anything, it just gives you new functionality that explorer.exe does not and it is also lighter in my opinion and FAR FAR more customizable than explorer.exe
The only thing i dont like about it is some of the quirks it has that they havent quite figured out in the windows version of blackbox (bblean) but all around its not bad at all.
How difficult is it to turn these said shell programs on and off? Do they change anything in the original Windows setup?
negative, bblean is something that you can run on top of explorer if you want, all i did was put a shortcut to it on my desktop and then run it without even touching explorer, this isnt really shell replacement at that point, but it gives you and idea of what you are doing. Then once you have read a little documentation on it, you can use the option under the BBlean right click menu that says "install" and when you do that it edits your registry so that when your computer boots up it boots up bblean.exe rather than explorer.exe.
At any time if you want to change that you just do the same thing you did to install it, but you hit "uninstall" instead and then just reboot or log off and back on again.
The other option if you dont want to uninstall it but would just like to use explorer.exe for a while is to just right click, and exit bblean and then hit ctrl-alt-del and type in explorer.exe and that should start explorer back up, otherwise just do option 2.
I use windowblinds, object dock, login studio, bootskin, cursor xp and icon packager regularly.
Sometimes I use yahoo widgets engine also.
But shell replacement programs like Aston and Talisman are a real pain. Talisman never really worked properly here.
Transformation packs are a strict no no for me. They often fail to uninstall properly. Why take the risk just for the sake of patching a few things like the about menu etc.
It can handle 'that sort of crap' - there was a bit of a flamewar I read comparing XP vs. KDE eye-candy, and it was established I think that both could look good, but the crucial difference was how supported the apps to change the appearence were. The Windows user saw no problem with (IMO) dodgy 3rd paty apps, and I guess it's a sort of windows mentality to thinl '3rd-party = bad', but at the end of the day, these 3rd party apps can integrate jsut as well as some of the linux stuff; bblean is incredibly functional and windows can definitely 'handle' that,
The many shell replacements for windows are very buggy. Just stick with using Windows Explorer.