LiteStep is a free piece of software designed to change the interface of some Microsoft Windows®-based operating systems. This software allows the installation of user-created skins that change the look and feel of Windows® and allow for different ways of interacting with the operating system. Microsoft® does not officially support the software, and in general, shell replacements like LiteStep can require a lot of manual configuration that may be difficult for less technically-savvy users.
The software is free and it is distributed under the general public license. It was designed because of a general dissatisfaction with Microsoft’s® user interface design. This software can be installed under every version of Microsoft's® operating system from Windows 95® to Windows XP®. It does not work for Windows Vista® or anything after that.
Installation and removal of LiteStep both generally require the user to modify the system registry, which is a text file with important system settings on Microsoft® operating systems. This can potentially be dangerous, and if it is handled the wrong way, it is possible to damage the operating system environment. Sometimes damage to the registry can even force a person to reinstall Windows®, and for people with less experience, this can potentially be a daunting task.
Many people over the years have been generally unhappy with the overall design of the various Windows® user environments, and there have also been complaints that these environments aren’t flexible enough. It can be difficult to make many adjustments to the user interface in Windows® operating systems, and it’s often hard to make many changes that have any impact on the functionality of the general work environment. Some people also prefer the user interfaces offered in the Apple Macintosh® operating systems. Many people feel that these can sometimes be slightly more flexible than Microsoft® interface systems, and some people feel that there is more of a focus on ease of use in the basic design. Many people use LiteStep to make the Windows® user interface more similar to what would be expected on a Macintosh® computer, while others use it to set up user interfaces that are completely different and highly customized in unusual ways.
LiteStep allows for many unique changes to the Windows® interface. People design modules that are distributed separately from the software, and these let users change many aspects of the basic interface capabilities. Some of them also include additional functionality beyond what would normally be expected in a user interface, such as setting up music player controls on the desktop itself so that there is no need for a separate program.