Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The death of the screen saver!

Screen savers on computers have been around since the first versions of Windows. The purpose was to save the monitor from screen burn in. Early versions of computer monitors used a phosphorescent backing on the inside of the screen to help display colors. If the image on the screen was not changed frequently, the image would actually burn into the phosphorous permanently. Screen savers are designed to activate after a set period of computer inactivity. Original screen savers on Windows 3.1 systems would display the windows logo in random on the screen. Then came the starfield effect, where you could pretend you are Captain Kirk of the enterprise and watch the stars zoom by from your captain’s quarters.

If zooming through space is not your thing, how about your own marquis banner. You can customize your own text, text colour, size and text direction. Pretty snazzy stuff!

Soon after Windows 3x came Windows 95 and the screen saver desktop basically stays unchanged. There was of course the option to make your own slideshow screen saver. Windows would collect images from your favorite folder and randomize them. Many 3rd party sites popped up offering customizable screensavers for download. Really, this is where the spyware and adware started. Screen savers became no-no’s and were spyware and adware breeding grounds. Still, very popular and very much a part of our computer persona’s.

For a short time, there was the option to use the active desktop with your screen saver. This would allow you to place a website, or an animated picture on the desktop. The screen saver would be tied into the active desktop with the same type of theme. Microsoft released a package called Plus! which included additional games, desktop themes and matching screen savers. Not much has changed in the world of screen savers until now.

Microsoft Windows Vista has taken the screen saver to a new level. Vista offers a free download for certain releases of Vista Ultimate, it is called Dreamscene. This offers some great features for your desktop background. Essentially, allowing you the option to use video as the desktop background. Dreamscene includes sample videos such as a waterfall, a flower complete with bees and all! You can choose videos, pictures, tiled background patterns, or the standard one color desktop. Nothing like having your favorite music band or family gathering as your desktop! One limitation however– there is no sound on these desktop videos. T o change the desktop to a video:

- Download the Windows Vista Dreamscene an then reboot.

- Right click on your desktop and select Personalize.

- Click desktop wallpaper.

- Open the drop down list to select Video File.

- Browse to your favorite video and select it.

Note, only certain types of video files are support, primarily AVI and WMV. Your selected video file will now be displayed as your wallpaper.