Re: Stardock Start10
To fix the ugly flatness, you'll need a different Windows theme. Back when I was still using Windows 10 on my test machine, I had my custom Windows Classic-style theme working there fairly well. It needed some tweaking to make it perfect, but it disguised Windows 10 and made it look more like what I use on 7. It wasn't a complete reprieve from the ugliness that is 10, though; my theme affected the Win32 bits of Windows 10 and returned the skeuomorphic appearance for them... but the cr'apps' stubbornly refused to play along, retaining their drab, ugly, flat grayness (which was never a match for the vast flat expanses of painful, retina-searing white pixels in the Win32 bits with the stock theme either).
If I could "just avoid using the apps" as the Windows 10 promoters say, that would be one thing, but you can't. You can change all of the defaults from the picture viewer app, Groove, Edge, back to the good old versions (which are still included with 10)... that is, until one of the forced updates comes through and decides to reset everything to the default settings (from all of the privacy settings you carefully set to allow the minimum telemetry only to your choices for default 'apps').
with some things (like the calculator, solitaire, etc.), MS has completely removed the native Win32 programs and replaced them with hideous, inferior app versions (some of which pester you with ads now), and to fix that, you'd have to copy over the old versions from another version of Windows, as far as I know. I don't know if these get reset with updates, but it would not surprise me.
Then there's the third category of 'app' appearing things, like Settings. They're now part of the OS, and there are no Win32 versions. You're just stuck having them stubbornly disregarding all of the theming you may have applied, not to mention the UI conventions (like menu bars, no hamburger menus, well-utilized space that doesn't have comically oversized controls and vast amounts of space that could be doing something useful but is instead just sitting there) that have been in place for decades because they work for mouse and keyboard PCs.
It was an improvement, incomplete as it was, and it made Win 10 semi-tolerable for shorter periods of time when I was testing it...
.. until Threshold 2 broke something, and my theme no longer worked at all.
That proved to be a metaphor for the whole thing. Just when you think you've gotten Microsoft's stupidity beaten back, MS moves to block you from making their product more tolerable to yourself.
That was when I formatted my test PC's SSD and repurposed it as a Linux boot device in my main PC. I had been continuing to monitor 10 with the expectation (or at least the hope) that it would eventually evolve into a decent product, but TH2 removed any such illusions.