DesktopX is a shareware desktop enhancement program that allows users to build their own custom desktops. Amongst its features is a complete widget engine for Windows as well as a desktop object system. User creations can be exported as .desktop files or as widgets. The program, created by Stardock is distributed as part of Object Desktop as well as stand-alone.

It was first released in 2000. Mini-applications created with it were called "object packs" but later rebranded as "widgets" to help standardize the term. Most users used DesktopX to build alternative desktop environments.

The mini-application creation ability was there from the start but did not gain widespread use until the release of DesktopX 2 in 2003. Current versions run on Windows 2000 and above.


DesktopX supports the creation of three different types of widgets:

Objects -
DesktopX supports desktop objects. Objects can be live data or just images. They run as part of the DesktopX environment.

Widgets - DesktopX objects can be exported as mini-applications called widgets. Widgets are similar to objects except they are actual programs (.EXEs) that run in their own memory space.

Desktop themes - DesktopX can also build entire d
esktops that can be secured (kiosks, OEM systems, custom desktop experiences, etc.).

Gadgets - DesktopX widgets can be exported as stand-alone programs (.EXEs) called gadgets that require no additional files or run-times to be installed.

  • objects, which are loaded into a running DesktopX environment.
  • widgets, which are groups of objects packaged into executables that require DesktopX to be installed (equivalent to Yahoo! Widget Engine widgets).
  • gadgets, which are totally standalone widgets provided as applications.
  • Objects may be controlled by scripts written in either VBScript or JScript, although they are not always required.
  • Many common actions are provided for as in-built object functions, such as:
  • running a program.
  • displaying a menu containing the contents of a folder.
  • emptying the Recycle Bin.
  • Similarly, animation, sound and variation depending on the object's state (for example, mouseover or clicking) can be modified without scripting.
  • DesktopX plugins also avoid the need for scripting common tasks, by offering extra functionality such as media player displays and controls (currently available for iTunes, Winamp, CoolPlayer, an internal version of Windows Media Player and Stardock's own ObjectMedia) and access to Windows Management Instrumentation.

Image:DesktopX Theme.jpg


In 2003, Stardock released DesktopX 2 with a Pro version. The Pro version allowed developers to export their creations as stand-alone programs called "gadgets". This feature was further enhanced with DesktopX 3 and the price on DesktopX Pro lowered to make it more ma
Gadgets are similar to widgets except that they do not require a third-party program to run.

Version history

An (incomplete) list of releases:

  • August 2000: First beta versions released to Object Desktop subscribers.
  • June 2001: DesktopX 1.0 released.
  • April 2002: DesktopX 1.1 released - adds scripting support.
  • October 2003: DesktopX 2.0 released - includes IconX.
  • March 2005: DesktopX 3.0 released - better support for gadgets, internationalization.
  • July 2005: DesktopX 3.1 released - new APIs for developers, new UI for users.

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