Birth of Aero
Aero was originally one of the two environments of a more simple Front End called PanelOS. The project was originally an exercise to test and improve my knowledge of Visual Basic .NET, started in April 2013 using Visual Basic 2008, later updated to the 2010 version, and it had a login that showed the buttons to choose between the 2 environments: one called simply 'Desktop' which was structured very much like Windows 7 Home Premium, and the other emulating the new Windows 8 interface using the concept of Tiles but gathered in 5 panels. That was the first idea of 'Aero', which later became an independent project where all PanelOS applications were redesigned and improved to match the new schema. With Aero, the desktop was no longer only a space showing a background and hosting the applications, but the real 'core' of the Front End, via a series of show/hide panels that were activated thru sideways buttons and menu. Around June 2013, developing all applications twice for the 2 environments became too heavy of a load, so I dropped PanelOS and kept Aero.
Not a simple Front-End
Prior to developing PanelOS I already had a little experience in developing Front End applications, I had built a simple one called FrontOS. This basically was a desktop replacement with no interaction with the system.
With PanelOS, I started to interact with the system by creating a log-in / register form that created the folder structure in the HDD, and also had to manage a little configuration file used to store the chosen background image when closing the environment, so that it showed up at the next start.
When Aero became a stand-alone project, I decided to add another interaction by creating a form from which you could associate 3 external applications (they turned to 6 on Aero 1.1) that could be chosen among the ones installed on the computer. I also created a File Launcher in order to start processes from Aero. This File Laucher was not fully functional until current version Aero 2014, where a File Stack has been added in order to allow the user to start 4 types of files not using windows processes, but the native Aero applications. So with time Aero has changed, and now it is not only a Front End, but a new kind of applications that covers many of the functions one could expect in an operating system.
Taking Aero further
Aero is in constant progress and, even though with build 3.0 (Aero 2015) it has reached maturity, it is open to users' ideas and suggestions.
A long road has been left behind, a lot of upgrades have been done, turning Aero from a mere desktop replacement with a bunch of functional but basic applications (build 1.0) to a complete Overlay Shell capable of handling most of the functions of an Operative System in the software layer.
Starting with build 2.1 (unofficial version Aero 2014 sp.1), Aero was given hardware capabilities such as recognizing hardware and connections, and USB compliance. More still needs to be done, so we truly encourage you to let us know your ideas or propose your applications which, of course, will all be credited.
The latest builds Aero 2015, 2015sp1, and 2017, have taken the concept further and allowed you to completely bypass your Windows environment. Aero 2015 and Aero 2017 can be set as default environment for your Windows account.
The last and current official version, Aero 2018, deeply upgrades from previous version fixing some known bugs and adding more value to the Overlay Shell by means of new applications, User Role control, new graphic themes, and a complete re-arrangement of the Desktop.
The old PanelOS screen to choose the environment.
Aero 2014 log in screen
Aero 2018 log in screen
After trying Aero, if you enjoyed it and you want to donate for the developing (buying if codes and 3rd-parties libraries), you can donate 2 Euros using the Donate Button. You will get in return the codes of the full Aero 2018 project.