Alternative shell replacements
"When we started designing @Shell we had to think of a part in Windows that was not taken up by programs, we found only one decent place for this. In Windows programs at the top there is a bar showing the program name and there control buttons (Minimize, Maximize and Close). In programs there is always quite a big space in between the program name and these buttons, so we decided that would be the best place to put @Shell."
"Blackbox for Windows is yet another addition to the long list of alternative shells for Microsoft Windows. It is based stylistically on the Blackbox window manager for the X Window System by Brad Hughes, however it does not use the same codebase except for the gradient rendering code. From the time the first line of code was written, Blackbox has evolved around one premise, minimalism."
"bbLean is the lean version of Blackbox for Windows. It tries to keep balance between features and complexity, to give you some efficient means within a compact shell."
Another clone of the Blackbox window manager for X. First to have skinnable windows, started by nivenh.
"BoS is a replacement shell for Win Explorer. It replaces the drab gray start button and taskbar with a translucent, skinnable bar. BoS reimplements almost everything that Explorer does, including the taskbar, start menu, clock, system tray, and even desktop icons that support OLE drag and drop."
Status: discontinued, since long time. Only available as source too.
"Cloud:9ine is a replacement shell for all 32-bit versions of windows. It uses a bar-style interface very similar to that introduced by geOShell back in 1998. (...) Cloud:9ine was inspired by, and is based on, geOshell's "bar" style interface. Cloud:9ine's skinning engine was based upon that of geOshell due to the similarities of the interface."
"DarkStep is a shell replacement for Windows which is compatible with most LiteStep themes and modules but has been written from the ground up with the original intent of LiteStep: to be fast, resource friendly and ultimately configurable."
"E-Sense is the Windows native rewrite of the popular Enlightenment window manager for the unix X window system by Rasterman and Mandrake. Its goal is to mimic as close as possible the original Enlightenment look'n feel, together with providing windows users with what they need and is specific to the windows world."
Status: discontinued, source code available.
"EVWM was designed with two things in mind: speed and functionality. Coded by Eliot Gillum and Marek Gorecki (RaV, author of Reveal,) EVWM is not designed to be a pretty shell replacement; rather, it's for the user that desires speed and productivity. (Description taken from FPN.)
Status: discontinued. Link points to our archive.
"GeoShell is a replacement shell for Windows to replace the standard desktop interface. In other words, you trade your start menu, taskbar, system tray and desktop in, and you get our versions, featuring slick, skinnable geoBars which can be placed anywhere and alpha blended into your background."
"GO is designed to be as simple and light on resources as possible. It just opens programs and can shutdown/restart your computer. No taskbar, tray, clock, or start menu replicas. It does have 38 hotkeys, a place to type in commands, and button for your favorite app (I recommend shortpopup). This is probably too simple for an average user, but it does the job nonetheless."
"For the last couple of weeks I've had the opportunity to beta test a new shell that uses an amazing new approach, a completely scripted interface! That is, it uses jscript or perlscript to assemble the interface components, giving the thememaker an amazing level of control, because the interface isn't simply a static representation of a config file, but an actual running script!" (tin_omen, 1999).
Status: dead. Link points to our archive, source available.
"Litestep is the longest living replacement shell for Windows, and offers the largest support community. Source is GPL (list.shellfront.org)."
Status: development on hold for a while, community and plugin development alive as always.
Blizzle: "metro is a nice minimal bar-style shell written by seb and DarkPhan. It's extremely fast and stable. It has built in task management, VWM, tray and loads geoshell skins, so over 100 are already avaliable for it."
Status: discontinued. Link points to our archive (thanks sryo for the files).
"Outsider Shell gives you the possibility to texturize (or Skin) the different part of the shell (taskbar, desktop. etc)." Plus it has a special startmenu, with file explorer and media player options.
Status: no news, no download (available, at all, at homepage) for a long while.
A complete re-write of LiteStep. "PureLS is written in ANSI-C compliance, utilizing the Win32 API. What does "PureLS" stand for? Simply put, its a combination of two things: "Pure" - for its pure ANSI-C code base, and "LS" - for following the philosophy of LiteStep to be a powerful user oriented Shell" (jugg).
Status: not active.
Shoggot: "Incredibly powerful scripting, capable of pure magic, but hell on a newbie - the .ini's etc which have to be written are sheer murder. Reading the long .doc included in the distro is a simple "must", and some items are poorly documented. Crashes if you use any audio app which uses xing (as a decoder or encoder). Evolved into "Juice", which has never had a public release."
"Serenade is a completely customizable shell replacement for Windows. The shell is the set of objects on your screen whose sole purpose is navigating your computer. (...) Serenade replaces these drab and often difficult to manage controls with a set of controls (which can be completely customized via themes) which make managing your computer much easier."
Status: on hold.
SharpE is an alternative shell noteworthy for its powerful module bar. It eventually became skinnable, although it was only themed at first.
"xoblite is an advanced Blackbox for Windows branch with integrated SystemBar and Slit + a whole lot more... =]."