How to get an animated desktop in Windows 10 with DeskScapes 8

Microsoft's Windows 10 offers users many ways to customize the OS. Indeed, we have a rather large article detailing all the methods by which you can make Windows 10 yours. One throwback style has an animated desktop. Indeed, yesterday you may have seen my Instagram video showing one in action featuring the famous Windows 10 logo from the new login screen.

Today, I'll show you how you can do the same using a third-party app called DeskScapes 8 from Stardock!

(opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

The 'duh' moment

Before we get started, I should point out the obvious. Using an animated desktop on a laptop, older computer, or even a newer one with lower-end specs is probably not the best idea if you are concerned with battery life and graphics performance. There is no doubt that in using such a setup you could tax your system just to make it look fancy.

Of course, if you are running a high-end rig with CPU and GPU cycles to spare, there is nothing wrong with doing this trick. Indeed, I am running it on two Core i5 desktop systems (Intel Skylake) with plenty of RAM and two rather high-end GPUs (an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 and 970, to be precise).

If you want a more accurate estimate having an animated desktop will consume between 6-9% of CPU with an average of around 7 percent. Although that is not terrible, it could constrain your setup if on an older rig. The good news is not only can you pause your animated desktop you can quickly just switch to a static image at any time saving your precious CPU for when you need it.

Why the tutorial?

Besides just explaining the basics there is one other issue. DeskScapes 8 gets its name because it is made for Windows 8 systems. It can run on Windows 10 however if you just try to install it you are going to get an error message.

This impediment is very easy to get around, and I'll show you how to get it going. That said, the reason this is not meant for Windows 10 is the app is not optimized for the newer OS and, as such, Stardock cannot guarantee performance or any issues. So do this at your own risk.

Let's get started!

Animated desktops in Windows 10

Before we being, you need to download the DeskScapes 8 installer. The app has a free 30-day trial and costs $9.99 for a single license. Having 30 days to try this app is more than enough for you to decide if you want to justify the $10 price tag.

Besides the preinstalled animated desktops within the app, you can also create your own or navigate to the site WinCustomize to download ones the community has made. There are quite a few, so you should find something to pique your interest.

1. Download

Head to Stardocks' site and grab the installer. Agree to use the 30-day trial and download.

2. Compatibility Mode

The trick to running the app on Windows 10 is to use compatibility mode. This feature is an old function from previous releases, and it works well here for the installer. Right-click on DeskScapes8_cnet-setup.exe and choose Troubleshoot Compatibility.

3. Troubleshoot Program

You should be presented with two options. Select the second one Troubleshoot program.

4. Earlier version

Next, choose the first option The program worked in earlier versions of Windows but won't install or run now from the menu. Hit Next to proceed.

5. Version choice

On the next menu, select Windows 8 and hit Next.

6. Test it

Next, choose Test the program… This part is where it gets tricky. Normally, the program just launches, and you can then proceed with Next. However, this is an installer we are running so you should see a blinking Windows shield ( User Account Control ) icon appear in the taskbar.

Note that it won't be an active window so you could miss it if you are not looking for it. Click on it and agree to let the installer run.

7. Install

Now you can finally install the program to your computer. During the process, you will be asked if you optionally would like to install Decor8 , another Stardock app. I advise against this only because the app is to customize the old Start Screen in Windows 8 and is not very relevant for Windows 10. Make sure you have the box unticked, and the proceed.

8. 30-day Trial

Stardock lets you try DeskScapes 8 for 30 days. However, you still need to register and let the app verify the trial to begin. The process is simple only requiring an email and a verification link. This action starts the trial period. Although not as convenient as just using a non-phone-home program Stardock likely does this to cut down on piracy, so cut them some slack.

Exit Compatibility

It should be noted that once you hit Test the program… you ran the full app installer. As such, at any point you could just hit Cancel on the compatibility mode window as we already got what we wanted. Still, if you did not do so, you can now hit Cancel. There is no need to re-run using Next.

(opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

That's it! You now have DeskScapes 8 installed on Windows 10. Here are a couple of other tidbits:

  • You can pause DeskScapes 8 at any time by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Pause DeskScapes
  • For multi-monitor setups , you can run DeskScapes on all windows or choose one for each display. For instance, you could have an animated main display with a secondary (and tertiary) monitor running a static image. Likewise, you could put a different animated wallpaper on each monitor. The choice is yours!
  • Grab new backgrounds from the site WinCustomize. Just find the image/animation you want and download to your computer. Double clicking on the download enables it through the app, and you can create a directory to add more
  • While DeskScapes is running, you may have trouble moving files or folders on the desktop. You can always choose a regular wallpaper through Windows Settings > Personalization and then re-arrange your files or folders, then re-enable DeskScapes. Those files or folders are accessible so you can launch apps and open the folders you just cannot re-arrange them when the app is running. Logging off and on again seems to fix the issue.
  • Deskscapes has quite a few options in it including transparency for your desktop icons , which is an added neat effect that I recommend
  • If you have a Windows Insider watermark on your desktop, you can read our other tutorial on how to get rid of that for a cleaner look
  • If the app does not enable an animated wallpaper, and you have just a black background, try to log off and back on again then re-launch DeskScapes 8
  • If running multiple Windows 10 computers , you may want to head into Settings > Accounts > Individual sync settings and disable Theme. This action prevents Windows 10 from trying to sync your DeskScapes to your other Windows 10 computers, which obviously does not work.
  • DeskScapes 8 can auto-pause when AC power is disconnected meaning you can use this on a laptop with little impact

For those who want the new Windows 10 login screen with the fancy Windows logo and lasers, you can find it on WinCustomize (link below). The theme is made by AzDude, who is one of the most prolific creators on that site. The version I use is Windows 10 v1 (link) although he has a few variations out there, so try them all and use what you think looks best.

Overall, DeskScapes is running rather well on my PC, and I have no issues or complaints. This program is a rather high-end way to customize your PC, but there is little denying that it has a certain wow appeal to it. Whether you will like it and want to pay the $10 is up to you, but at least you now know how to get it on your PC.

There is no word if a Windows 10 version is on the way, but we'll keep you posted if we hear anything.

More Resources

Remember that we have many other articles on Windows 10, if you need help you always check these other resources:

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • haha...I had this set up on my laptops yesterday. It's really awesome...and the wincustomize community makes some amazing animated wallpapers!
  • Live/animated wallpapers on windows 10 mobile startscreen next!!
  • I'll just stick to custom themes
  • Whoa, this is what I've waited for. Going to try it out right now!
  • Was looking for something like this. Thanks.
  • skype icon <3 good job Microsoft, do you hire anyone who looks at things there?
  • Duuuuude! Yes!
  • I'm still saying: MS should buy Stardock and implement their things deep into W10 (and maybe into the Mobile Section too)!!!
  • Looks fun, but Stardock ... I'll pass.
  • ^This
  • WC seems to love Stardock.
  • Ditto. The performance hit seems excessive for what it is, too.
  •   Its been proven that any cpu cycles not used are wasted.
  • What's the major dilemma with Stardock, I don't suppose you can elaborate? Was recently considering buying a whole bunch of their sw, fired-off some queries. The quality of their response, will determine if I proceed...
  • This is what we need for windows phones. Hopefully someone will make it happen soon for mobile as well
  • I think I'd rather have something lite and fast over something that will eat up the processor, memory and battery life.
  • You can do that in windowsphone 10?
  • I really would like to have a dynamic background!!
  • Yup that's will be awesome
  • Gimmicky but cool. Just don't think it's worth the performance drainage. Like on a phone what's the point.
  • Awesome!!
  • I hope wallpaper auto change comes to windows phone
  • I can't see why people get so excited over something that is covered the majority of the time by program windows. Now animated wallpapers? It's like spending money and time choosing a rug to put your fridge on.
  • But what if the refrigerator is transparent....? Some people like variety in their life and some like blandness. To each his own
  • Lol! I had this setup last month because I accidentally found this video on YT and had the same idea Windows Central had. Here's the proof:
  • Isn't this just like in vista ultimate with video background?
  • Screensaver Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • heh, I had this back when it came out in the Vista days. It was kind of glitchy back then, CPUs/GPUs where slower, I finally gave up on it. I might try it again now, although, I never really see my desktop, its covered with windows.
  • Does not look worth the $10. Get Rainmeter if you really want come cool desktop customization.
  • Anyone knows how to make the wallpaper images change automatically once I download themes from Microsoft page??? Because it downloads a pack of images but only shows one. In Windows 8.1 didn't had that issue.
  • for some who have come to know about deskscape just now, this program has been around before Windows Vista. During the preview of the OS (Vista),  MS introduced this capablity of the OS of handling graphic intensive activities one of which is animated wallpaper available only to Windows Vista Ultimate users. Stardock wanted that feature to be available to any version of Windows thus they created Deskscapes. When XP was the crater for customization, Deskcapes was a blessing from the heavens and it spurred the wincustomize community into creating awesome animated backgrounds and actually some of us who were hyped about animated background got kinda disappointed when with Windows 7, this feature was ditched (in favor of the changing wallpaper) However, Stardock has already a strong fanbase/userbase of Deskcapes that they continued to support and upgrade Deskcapes. It's a novelty program yes, but it has a well established stardock community willing to shell out 10 dollars to have their beloved animated background working on any Windows version. Edit: Microsoft calls the ability of windows to render HQ WMV or MPG as desktop wallpaper:
  • It'll work perfectly on my XPS15 with its i7 processor
  • Gorgeous! I was expecting this to be an official feature when they showed off the making of the hero wallpaper that first time. Or for it to at least do that after login because it would look so darned cool. Great to see there's an option to make it so (Hey, it's Star Trek day, forgive the pun! ), even if it's a third party option.​ For $10 I don't think I'll bother, but it does look awesome! ^_^
  • Cool for plugged in desktops, not for tablets/phone, will kill your battery.
  • Well not for me coz my battery was finished last 1-3 years so my laptop is always plugged in soo no problem for me. Right?
  • I remember this fancy stuff on Vista Ultimate. I believe it was called Dreamscene. I was wondering when this would come back into fashion...
  • Looks cool. After what Stardock said about Windows 10 they're not going to get a dime from me.
  • doesn't the dreamscene hack still work Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on WM10
  • Stardock... Something to avoid
  • Sorry Daniel, but this is a useless how to. For me an o/s should take as few resources as possible.
  • good to know but isn't $10 bucks a bit to much for an app that is likely to slow down your machine? and even if it didn't ...
  • If you have to worry about that, then you need to upgrade your video card...
  • Reminds me of Dreamscene in Vista. :D
  • I used to have video wallpapers in Vista(it was built in) and even 7(you could regedit it) but nowadays it's just not worth it, hate 3rd party solutions
  • i miss hyperdesk why aint they making it for w8 or 10?
  • It doesn't work when I hit "Task Viewer" option, the animation got stuck, and when I run some of the animated wallpaper it shows a Error message and shows some codec related information which is really annoying, any help or suggestion @Dan Rubino
  • Installed it, and immediately on running the app it tells me my trial period has expired. Have never used it, or any stardocks sw before FTM, my PC time and date is correct ... so WTF!!!??
  • WOW, paying for a feature WIndows Vista Ultimate had for free, talk about going backwards... Great job Microsoft.. Used to love that feature, a nice stream running in the background on my desktop was nice, when you had a really stressfull day, just minimize everything and relax for a moment.... Maybe I'll check it out...
  • I had DeskScapes already installed when I upgraded to Windows 10. After the Windows upgrade, Deskscapes works but sometimes behaves really bad... specially when several animated desktops are choosen.
    Hope that Stardock upgrade this tool to properly support Windows 10. BTW: I agree, Windows should have offered this feature long ago... But that is Stardock's bussiness: Fill some of the gaps Microsoft hasn't adressed. J.
  • I will NEVER purchase another product from Stardock due to the arrogant remarks from its CEO about Windows 10 in a previous article. I wish Windows Central would NOT advertise their crapware / bloatware (like this particular product)
  • I have only the paid option...any tip
  • i install it on win 10, then i download a dream file, how to apply it?. i get the error message when i try to set this file... i download the dreams file from this link below...
  • I wanna learn how to make those animated wallpapers, so i can custom my laptop with my own materials (like a .gif or mp4).  : /  anyone knows how it's done?
  • One can still use the free desktop background video/animation soft extracted from Vista / 7 Ultimate for free in WIn 8.x/10. Just search and find it :)