This was an Active X desktop website.
Developed for the company Battlenet as part of a LAN desktop that was all PC’s as a way for customers access shortcuts to commonly used shortcuts and files in a much more neat and elegant design than users having to find things in a startmenu or a mass of icons on the website. It also provided a way for users to get information directly for things like local CS stats for players to see without having to visit any specific website as it was already accessible directly on the desktop.
This is the only early screenshot I have of the system. Made in around 2004, in a way the security problems with ActiveX desktops were always a concern, however I think it was way before it’s time could have been great if further developed by Microsoft as it allowed some really nice ways for users to have customized desktops that were actually useful and tidy, instead of the current wallpaper with shortcut icons and files dumped all over the top with no real built in way of arranging it in area sections or within other tabs.
The system almost had some of the modern Windows 8 startmenu functionality. Like being able to load up website pages into a desktop frames. Sadly it was before it’s time and the underlying system didn’t have the required functionality. And it did pose some some security risks, however those were problems to do with Windows security architecture (still shit and further infested with approved spyware now) and more importantly Internet Explorers many flaws and underdeveloped nature.
While the modern startmenu in Windows 8 onwards is sadly way too restrictive in its design layout. The API for developing for it really does not appeal to many developers and neither does it’s marketplace that is all forced on users and still leaves the actual desktop largely a static dumping ground for shortcut icons. With only desktop widgets being possible also somewhat phased out.
I think it still leaves a gap in the market for a much better desktop interface, preferably designed and implemented by the OS developers to get it right.