Software that will let me create a Windows screensaver on a Mac platform.
December 13, 2006 9:59 PM   Subscribe

A client wants us to create a promotional screensaver for them. The problem is we are on a Mac platform and they are on Windows.

All of the software I've looked at requires you to be on Windows if you're wanting a Windows screensaver. We are going to use Flash but if there's something else that will help me get around this problem please let me know.
posted by tellurian to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Someone asked pretty much the exact same question no more than 10 days ago here, with good answers - but I can't find it.
posted by jkaczor at 10:18 PM on December 13, 2006

I can't find the exact post - but I did see someone mention that 'ScreenTime' will create a Windows screen saver, even if you are authoring on a Mac.

I would definitely recommend using a professional tool - as I have seen a very lame Flash screen-saver that was done using an HTML page, hosting the Flash object - ugh (but my daughter loves it)
posted by jkaczor at 10:25 PM on December 13, 2006

Hmmm, I guess I was wrong and doubly so.

Can't you use Parallels or some other Mac virtualization software and install Windows to do this? Even an older version would be fine (Windows 2000).

Once installed, there are a dozen cheap or free toolsets and samples that I could point you too that would host Adobe's Flash OCX control and respond to the standard Windows screensaver 'interfaces' - and you wouldn't have to buy ScreenTime.

A Windows screensaver can be as simple as an '.EXE' renamed to '.SCR' - but then it won't respond as nicely to 'commands' that Windows sends it when running.

(Personally, the last screensaver I built for Windows was using Borland Delphi v.4 as it would build a single executable with no other dependencies - simple, small and easy to install)

Wait - you could do this entirely on the Mac, but it would mean using C++ and setting up a GCC cross-compilation project. I have never done so - but it's possible.
posted by jkaczor at 10:35 PM on December 13, 2006

Best answer: Two apps allow you to create screensavers to run on both Windows and Mac.

iScreensaver Designer takes Flash or Quicktime files and generates Quicktime-based screensavers for use on either platform.

ScreenTime for Flash takes a Flash file and generates Flash-based screensavers for either platform.

Prices for either product scale with feature set and number of executables you plan to publish. ScreenTime starts at $200 (single platform (either Mac or Windows), up to 10,000 files) and tops out at $500 (single user license, both platforms, unlimited distribution). iScreensaver Designer starts at $30 (single user license, personal use only, watermarked output, up to 10 files) and goes up to $600 (developer site license, unlimited distribution).

I've used ScreenTime briefly, and it worked reasonably well. You will need a Windows machine to run the app that generates the Windows files, but that's pretty much a drag-and-drop process; you do all your Flash work on your Mac. These days, any Windows or Mac computer with a web browser can be assumed to have Flash, but it might not be a recent or working version.

I haven't used iScreenSaver. Requiring QuickTime is less of a constraint than it used to be, because of the popularity of iTunes. It could still be a gotcha if you're putting up a screensaver for public download, but not so bad for a project where you have control over the target system's environment. Either way you go, assume you'll have to provide some tech support to confounded users.
posted by ardgedee at 3:05 AM on December 14, 2006

I think the easiest way for you to accomplish this from the Mac platform is to farm it out. The last time I went looking for APIs and tutorials on making screen savers for Windows I came across several businesses who do them for corporations. Wouldn't your path of least risk be just to hire one and mark up the cost 25%?

You could also just post this to Metafilter jobs. I know there's several of us around here competent to do it. I'm not in the market for side work but I am sure someone else is.
posted by phearlez at 1:55 PM on December 14, 2006

Response by poster: ardgedee - iScreensaver looks like the ticket. I've downloaded the demo and created a test. Now I just need to find someone with a PC who's a willing guinea pig. I'll post results after the weekend.
posted by tellurian at 2:55 PM on December 14, 2006

Response by poster: iScreensaver works a treat. A bit pricey but I'm pretty sure we can make it back by offering screensavers to our other clients (repurposing material we have already generated for them). Win-win! Thank you argedee.
posted by tellurian at 4:52 PM on December 18, 2006

Response by poster: That would be ardgedee.
posted by tellurian at 4:54 PM on December 18, 2006

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