Customize Windows 8 Start Screen Background

good
key review info
  • Application: Decor8 0.95 Beta
  • Reviewed on:
  • Written by: Ionut Ilascu
application features
  • Personalize the Windows 8 start screen with background images and colors
  • (5 more, see all...)

Decor8 is the latest tool signed by Stardock, designed to help you customize the looks of Windows 8. Its purpose is to help personalize the modern UI area beyond what the stock options in the operation system have to offer.

The application is currently in beta stage of development but even so, it does come with a price tag that reads $4.99, the same as in the case of Start8. The developer offers a total of 30 days to try out the utility before deciding to spend the money.

Installation is easy and does not take long to complete. Despite the plain looks that consist only in the configuration panel, Decor8 features options that can change the Windows 8 Start Screen radically, not only by applying a different background image but also by modifying the color scheme.

The layout is as simple as possible, with the menus running down on the left-hand side, while options are displayed on the right.

Changing the background picture may seem like a simple job that does not entail more steps than selecting the image and applying it. But in Stardoc’s Décor8 there is slightly more to be done.

Apart from having a batch of beautiful images from the developer at your disposal, you can also add your own. Furthermore, the application can work with entire folders of images and rotate them at a user-defined frequency; the options in this sense should accommodate any type of user.

However, there is more to customizing the background. Decor8 offers the possibility to set a fade threshold for the image and to choose how the picture should be applied. The options include stretching it so that it covers the entire screen, tiling it or making it fit the screen.

But there is also the possibility to enable parallax scrolling, a visual effect that consists in moving the background together with the elements on it, but at a slower pace.

The application provides some customization of the parallax mode, as well. The effect can be stopped when the edge of the picture is reached rather than tiling it. This is useful on displays that are wider than the background photo.

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The color scheme in Windows 8’ Start Screen can also be changed with Decor8. You can either choose one of the presets provided by the operating system or create your own profile. This sort of tweaking requires picking out the color for the background, tiles, text, as well as for highlighting the elements.

It is a very easy task, especially because of the preview screen that shows all the modifications as soon as you make them. Thus, you can correct your choice or return to the initial, default option. Moreover, it can be applied for the charms bar, too.

Visual customization in Decor8 goes a bit further than replacing the background image and changing the color scheme and enables you to set the number of tile rows that should be displayed. The default configuration is adapted to the screen resolution, but you can modify it to show as little as a single row.

Previewing in this case is available only if you log off (sign out) the current account.

Despite being in beta stage of development, Decor8 proved to be quite stable during our tests. One thing some users might see as an issue is the fact that the program’s Settings panel cannot be minimized or restored to a smaller size and it covers the entire desktop area. This might very well be corrected when the stable release is launched.

Just like in the case of the Start Button provided by Stardock in Windows 8, this application does not need to work in the background to keep the settings applied.
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The Good

It allows you to add a rotating background to Windows 8’s modern UI interface. You can provide entire image folders for the application to shuffle at a user-defined time interval.

Decor8 offers the possibility to personalize the color schemes for both the Start Screen and the charms bar; the number of tile rows displayed can be defined by the user and there are settings for tweaking the parallax scrolling mode.

The Bad

The application is currently in beta stage of development and any stability or performance issues can be fixed in the final release. However, the price, as low as it is, may not be enticing for a large number of users.

The Truth

Decor8 does not provide extensive management of the Start Screen space, but it offers plenty of options for visual personalization. It can help you make it more dynamic by rotating images in a specific folder, shuffling them with a specific frequency and through the settings for parallax scrolling.

Furthermore, the color scheme can be modified to fit your needs and you can choose the number of tile rows to be displayed.

Note: Decor8 is currently in beta stage of development, hence a project in progress. As such, our rating will remain set to the default three stars until the stable version is evaluated.
user interface 3
features 3
ease of use 3
pricing / value 3


final rating 3
Editor's review
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