Sep 27

How to Transform Your Windows Desktop with an Amazing Windows Phone 7-Style HUD

Transform Your Windows Desktop with an Amazing Windows Phone 7


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Windows: Windows desktop customization tool Omnimo takes the look and feel of the upcoming Windows Phone 7 user interface and brings it to any Windows desktop in an attractive and functional form that’s fresh, useful, and full of eye candy.

(Click most of the images in this post for a closer look.)

When you’re done setting it up, the Omnimo customization will add Windows Phone 7-style widgets to your desktop that’ll give you quick access to weather, calendars, your favorite programs, your unread email, notes, system monitoring (like CPU, hard drive, and RAM use), Wi-Fi signal strength, and oh-so-much-more. Best of all, everything’s easily customizable via drag and drop once you make it through the setup, so you can make it look however you want. Here’s a quick sampling of various setups straight from the Omnimo homepage:

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Note: Omnimo should work on any Windows system, XP through Windows 7.

Install Omnimo

Before you can get started installing Omnimo, you’ll need to download and install the latest version of Rainmeter for your platform; if you’re running on 64-bit Windows, you’ll want to make sure to grab the right download. Rainmeter is an awesome Windows customization tool that we’ve featured plenty in the past, but the upshot is that Rainmeter provides the framework for the Omnimo Windows Phone 7-like customization; the Omnimo download and installation (which we’ll detail below) provides the skins and layouts necessary to transform your desktop.

After you’ve downloaded it, you’ll need to open Rainmeter at least once before proceeding to the Omnimo installation, because there’s a number of first-time initialization routines that create the appropriate configuration files necessary to install Omnimo. Once you’ve finished installing Rainmeter (a simple installation wizard will walk you through it) and running it for the first time, you can exit Rainmeter via its system tray icon to proceed to the next step.

Now it’s time to download and install Omnimo UI (you can find the download link in the left sidebar on this page).

If you don’t already have the Segue UI Light font installed on your computer, you’ll need to install the included font file via the right-click menu, or by dragging it into the Fonts folder. On my Windows 7 test machine, this font was already there, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check, or just re-install it to make sure. Windows will warn you if it’s already installed, so you can just stop the installation if you get that warning. (I’m guessing it’s a font included by default in Windows 7, but it may not be available in your XP machine, for example.)

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Now that you have all of that out of the way, you can launch the Rainstaller utility included in the Omnimo download; it will add the skins and themes to the appropriate Rainmeter folders. You’ll want to make sure you have Rainmeter closed before running through this process.

When it fires up, click on the Custom Install button if you need to adjust where it installs the skins; the Express Install should work for most people (if you installed Rainmeter with all the defaults, for example, you should be fine choosing the Express Install). When the installation is done, keep the Launch Rainmeter on exit checkbox ticked and click Finish (well, there’s a typo, so technically you’re clicking Finnish).

Rainmeter will fire back up, and this time you’re looking at your newly installed Omnimo desktop—which should look very similar to the screenshot below:

Tweaking Omnimo

Once you’ve launched Rainmeter with the Omnimo skin, you’ll be presented with the welcome screen (above), and then the Gallery view (below), where you can choose between loads of different panels, skins, and backgrounds.

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Simply click the icons to add the widgets to the screen, and then drag them wherever you’d like; the skins change the background color of the squares, and the backgrounds put an overlay over your wallpaper, if you have one. If you want to get back to the gallery later, you can just click the little plus symbol to open it again.

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Now that you have the widgets on the desktop, it’s time to configure them by hovering over the widget until the tiny icons appear in the upper right-hand corner, and then using the wrench to open the configuration screen. Not all widgets have configuration, and you should note that if you use the X to close a widget, you can always add it back from the gallery. Using the wrench icon launches you into the EnigmaConfigure utility built into Rainmeter-each widget will have separate configuration parameters that you can set, like this one for choosing your Yahoo! Weather location.









Some of the widgets don’t have configuration at all, but instead have an arrow that will let you rotate between views or functions. For instance, on the web browser widget, you can use the arrow to switch the default from Internet Explorer to a browser that isn’t quite as lame—or on the calendar widget, using the arrow switches between views.

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Readers should note that using the Win+D shortcut key combination to show the desktop will also hide Rainmeter, and all of your widgets, so you’ll probably want to resort to using the Win+M shortcut key combination to minimize all windows. Omnimo is a free download for Windows, requires Rainmeter 1.1 or higher.

Amazing Windows Phone 7