[Rapid Review] Aston

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:


Version reviewed:


Software description as per the developer:

Aston is an original shell replacement for Windows – you can use it as a whole and customize every desktop element the way you like.

This surprisingly smart, considered, at once sophisticated and simple shell replaces the standard Windows desktop and makes it more usable, beautiful and customizable. It also lets you get easy access to files, folders and applications on your choice. Aston offers the completely unique approach with yet unseen features and themes with live and 3D animated wallpapers.

Every element of Aston: main menu, desktop, panels – can be tweaked and customized, thus letting one create the most convenient working area. Aston makes people surprised about how easy to understand, natural, human and approachable a desktop might be.

Download size:

15.6 MB

Supported OS:

Windows XP and higher


$29.95 (USD)

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  • Straightforward and easy to use.
  • Skins the start menu, desktop, taskbar, and comes with skinned panels and widgets.
  • Highly customizable; users can add objects (panels and widgets) as they please and drag + drop and place objects (panels, widgets, start menu, etc.) literally wherever they want. (Objects can be locked into place, too, to avoid accidental displacement.)
  • Has multiple different useful widgets, such as resource monitor, launch bar, and toolbar.
  • Comes with three skins and users can download dozens more (for free).
  • Users can create their own custom skins (requires technical/designer knowledge).
  • Users can individually enable/disable the three main areas of Aston (start menu, taskbar/panels/widgets, and desktop).
  • Supports 3D wallpapers.
  • Has a built in hotkey manager.
  • Has a built in “event manager” (aka task/todo manager).
  • Has a built in search box in the start menu that can search locally, or search the Internet via Google.
  • Supports Expose and Flip3D window switching effects (Mac OS X and Vista like window switching).
  • Supports Windows 7’s Aero Peak.
  • Supports 22 different languages.
  • Does an extremely good job at minimizing impact on computer by continually cleaning up RAM usage.

{/rw_good} –>


  • Lacks an easy way to create your own skins (i.e. doesn’t have a WYSIWYG editor).
  • Lacks an easy way to revert skins to default settings.
  • When customizing start menu entries, users can add a custom folder but not a custom file/program.
  • Needs an ability to directly add entries to the “Top Programs” list in the start menu.
  • No hotkey support for switching between Google search and desktop search in the start menu.
  • Aston Desktop doesn’t work without the taskbar/panel/widgets feature being enabled (a bug).
  • Event Manager needs to be more easily accessible.

{/rw_bad} –>

{for=”Ease of Use” value=”9″}Very easy to use once you get used to it. However, with so many things going on at once (panels, widgets, menu, taskbar, etc.) it is easy to get overwhelmed by it all; so don’t worry if you freak out when you first load Aston… I did. Also, the Event Manager is sort of hidden – you have to dig for it to find out; the developer needs to make it more easily accessible, maybe add an option in the system tray icon’s right-click menu.
{for=”Performance” value=”8″}Aside from the lack of some features (as I listed in “The Bad” above), Aston performs very well. It especially does a good job of continually cleaning up RAM usage, making sure it never leaks; CPU usage typically stays in the single digits but depends on what you are doing. The only major problem I see with performance is one bug I found: The Aston Desktop feature does not work unless you have the taskbar/panels/widgets feature enable.
{for=”Usefulness” value=”6″}This program is only for those people who like skinning the way their Windows looks.
{for=”Price” value=”6″}Considering WindowBlinds (a very popular skinning program) is $19.95, asking $29.95 for this program is too high in my opinion. Either match WindowBlinds or go $25 – nothing more.
{for=”Final Score” value=”8″}
{/rw_score} –>

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{rw_freea}I don’t know of any free alternatives. If you do, please post in the comments below and share with us.
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{rw_verdict2}Aston is a terrific program; easy to use, highly customizable, supported by dozens of free skins, has useful widgets, self-regulating on computer resource usage, etc. – this program is a winner in my book. If you are looking to skin your Windows, you really should give Aston a try.
{/rw_verdict2} –>

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