IMHO (emphasizing OPINION) it’s not a culture thing, but Norman is rather defensive on posts.
Perhaps his point is better taken in context. Your complaint is on graphics-funniness on top of just the “regular” background (re: cases where you aren’t concerned about looking snazzy), all Norman really meant to say was that in Windows it WINDOWS that regulates what the background color is, not you. So changing the background color, while you can do it, isn’t the way Windows operates. So don’t blame Xojo.
It should be said though the VB - then and now - has their controls like you have them with transparency. So why doesn’t Xojo. Good question, but it seems that MS decided to have their set of what their form controls me as a larger subset than what Xojo decided. I think that’s a mistake, though it does Xojo in reliability.
I DO agree with the side issue raised, that 1) REAL/Xojo have let Windows SLIDE for years and 2) they use the “we use the OS controls” as a smokescreen. I advice to Xojo would be this - don’t spend so much time explaining for what Xojo Xojo CAN"T do, but be solution-oriented. Spend a touch of time explaining why things aren’t the way the customer wants, but spend the last, the majority of time helping to SOLVE the problem. I don’t see enough of that.
This is the service the Dan Appleman, Bruce McKinney, and Matt Curland did for VB users in the 90’s. Everyone knew how great a program VB was, and some smart people knew that VB could be extended via WinAPI calls. Appleman’s “Visual Basic Programmer’s Guide to the Win32 API” changed my world, because it SOLVED problems. Hardcore Visual Basic (McKinney) was also phenomenal. Because… they SOLVED problems. Don’t stress the limitations. Don’t advise to “stay in the box”.
(I think Karen said it well, and I agree with Alexander above. I think I’m going to spring for Jeremy’s things, though they seem more Macish. I don’t see them solving Windows issues and additionally Windows programs that look like Mac programs annoy me.)
Actually, to truly answer the OP’s core question: Perhaps there’s some Declares where you can incorporate transparency into the controls if you want it. And going further, the way REAL/Xojo supports Windows, if in any way you want a snazzy customized interface, don’t rely on REAL/Xojo to do the work for you. You almost have to create your own graphics system from scratch, which means reinventing the wheel a lot. That’s not faulting Xojo, it’s just the way REAL/Xojo designed their product (currently). The edginess people speak in is a result of this being really not communicated upfront or well.
Lastly, guys, this isn’t as personal as we make it out to be. So someone (Oliver) spits out a bit? I don’t care, I get what he’s actually saying. And I’m an American. =)