Litestep is an alternative user interface ( shell ) for use with any Windows operating system (Windows 9x/NT). It replaces the Windows shell. (A shell is a program that interfaces directly with the user on one side and with underlying operating system functions on the other side.) Like Windows, the Litestep shell lets you create your own personal user environment on the display screen, but offers many more options for creativity and personalization. You can develop your own user interface elements (icons, mini-utilities, screen backgrounds, and so forth), put together a combination of elements that others have developed, use a default user interface that comes with Litestep, or even continue to use the Windows desktop interface.
To switch to Litestep once you have downloaded it, you simply change the Windows system.ini file from "shell=explorer.exe" to "shell=litestep.exe". The next time you start Windows, the Litestep shell will be loaded instead of your usual Windows desktop. With Litestep instead of Explorer as the shell, however, your system will run faster because it requires much less code.
Litestep is modeled after After Step for X Window System , a shell that comes with the version of the Linux operating system from Red Hat. Instead of the 12 megabyte Explorer shell, Litestep takes only 700 kilobytes. Litestep is developed by a small team of graphic designers and programmers that you can reach directly at their set of partnered Web sites. Litestep tends to be in perpetual and you download one of the latest versions. Changes are made frequently. An online bulletin board allows you to share questions and answers with other users.
In spite of (or perhaps because of) its perpetual development cycle, at least one whatis.com user reports that Litestep is much more stable and less prone to crashing than the Explorer shell. Although staff members of whatis.com have not yet installed it, what appears to be revolutionary about it is its virtual community approach to sharing user interface ideas and elements that you can quickly install and use.