So I have been wondering for a while how usable KDE 4 is as a shell for Windows. The answer is it it not quite there yet some essential pieces and parts are still missing. This should work for all Windows 2000 and above.

1) open regedit (start menu > run, and type in regedit).
2) go to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon.
3) add a new string value (Edit > New > String Value) called shell. and set the value to the path of the new shell e.g C:\Program Files\KDE\bin\plasma.exe
4) log out and log back in.

This changes the shell only for the current user which is a good thing.

Quick run Down of what I have found to work and what does not.  For this look I’m using 4.1.80 the beta for 4.2 it may not apply to older or newer versions.

Task Manager Plasmoid – Missing

System Tray Plasmoid – Missing

New Device Notifier – Present but not functioning correctly, fails to show any new devices

Menu ( Kickoff or Classic)  – Both are present, and work great except that you have no way to access your Windows Specific Programs i.e. anything installed to your Start/Programs menu and none of the Leave Functions work( logout, lock, etc).

Quick Access Plasmoid – Missing, this could be used to access the Start Menu until that functionality

Quick Launch Plasmoid – Present and working, no way to add windows applications.

Also Plasma needs to be hidden from the Task Lists and Z-order of containers like the desktop and panels need to be enforced.

I feel like all of this is intentional.

By design, KDE-windows does not provide the full-blown KDE desktop, a preview on the plasma shell replacement will be available in 4.1.2 – Nevertheless this does not rely on kwin/X11 which means that desktop effects are not available – KDE TechBase Wiki

Are we sure that cutting out features is the way to go? I understand that there are some things like Konsole that my not be possible do because they are to deeply rooted in the way*nix works.  Users should be able to pick from everything the KDE system offers and not be limited artificially.