Relevant to the new Netscape release, I have to wonder how many people use skins. And for what purpose?

The earliest implementation of skins that I’m familiar with is Nullsoft’s WinAmp. By downloading skins, or interface overlays, you could change the look and feel of the WinAmp MP3 player… the buttons, the icons, nearly every element of the WinAmp interface. By all counts, skins are immensely popular, and thousands have been created and distributed through the WinAmp web site and countless other music and MP3-related offerings.

Not long after, NeoPlanet introduced its skinning environment for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and today the NeoPlanet browser boasts more than 500 different skins, as well as other environmental add-ons and companion features.

Skinning an application offers a way to customize an application, but, barring functional add-ons, are skins anything more than “skin deep?”. Is downloading and installing a skin a very personal thing? Or is it solely a means to reject the “standard” environment?

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