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Rainmeter 2.0 released to celebrate second birthday

07 February 2011, Nick Peers

Rainmeter 2.0, an open-source desktop widget tool for Windows, has been released. Version 2.0 was originally developed as version 1.4, but the developers decided to make it a major release due to the changes implemented, plus to celebrate the second anniversary of the project’s “re-birth”.

Rainmeter 2.0 has been repackaged so that a single installation file covers both 32- and 64-bit builds as well as an optional portable installer option. The installer has also been shrunk considerably by removing the two default “theme” packages from Rainmeter and distributing them separately. Instead, Rainmeter now comes bundled with a simple starter theme called Illustro.

Rainmeter is a desktop customisation tool that uses “skins” – Rainmeter’s equivalent of desktop widgets or gadgets – to enhance the desktop through the displaying of useful information. Skins can be packaged into “themes” to give the end user a wide collection of skins to choose from, but skins can also be added individually.

Skins serve a number of functions: they can be used simply to display data such as system information (memory usage, free disk space and so on) or RSS feeds. It’s also possible to create interactive skins, such as those which allow you to search Google or send a tweet direct from the desktop. Another use is as a shortcut panel to frequently accessed programs or documents.

Rainmeter was originally developed by a single author – Rainy, but after a long period of inactivity, and after a public outcry for support to be extended to Vista and Windows 7, the code was released through Google as open-source, to allow development to resume.

Version 2.0 also adds new plugins for skin creators, such as InputText (for providing a text input box), CoreTemp and C#, which allows C# coders to easily develop skins for Rainmeter. Also updated is the user manual and quick-start Rainmeter 101 guide, shortcuts to which are provided in the welcome screen that accompanies the Illustro theme.

Rainmeter 2.0 is open source, and runs on Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 or later – XP users will require SP2 in order to download and install the required .NET Framework or C++ Runtime Library, which is done automatically by the program if required.

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