Quickest Way to Vista Aero Look on XP?

Thursday, December 25, 2008 by ghostdog57 | Discussion: WinCustomize Talk

The number of software components, tools, skins, icons, etc. for customizing Windows is overwhelming. That can be a good thing (lots of choices) or a bad thing if you're busy and don't have time to sift through it all...

That said, would someone kindly to tell me the quickest path to a realistic Vista Aero look on Windows XP? Actually I'm a former Object Desktop user who got out of the whole customization thing a few years ago--mostly due to the time thing and frustration with how geeky and complex the whole customization scene had become. I do geek all day long at work as a DBA. At home I just want an Aero look on my XP machine that won't take hours or make it unstable (which eliminates VTP and other freeware solutions out there).

WindowBlinds is a given. But should I jump back into full Object Desktop? (Probably don't need OD Ulitmate since I won't be designing any skins myself.) Last but not least, what is the best Aero-like skin/theme? I'll be in your debt if you can save me hours of searching through skins, icons, etc, just to get the best Aero look! I used to enjoy that but, time is short these days...

Thanks for any help and a Merry Christmahanukkawanza to all!

Reply #1 Thursday, December 25, 2008 5:51 PM

Windowblinds and anyone of the 1000 Aero clones at Deviant Art will get you where you want to be. There aren't many aero clones here at WC. There arer some but you'll find  better versions at DA.

Reply #2 Friday, December 26, 2008 10:36 AM

Thanks Night Train. I'm up and running with Vista Aero style on XP now. Decided to go with full Object Desktop (standard) as a gift to myself.  You're correct, deviantArt is definitely the place to go for Aero themes.

I ended up with Aero Ultimate RC3.1 by fediaFedia which is apparently the most realistic, although some of the interface elements are non-functional eye-candy (by design). For example, the Start menu search tool doesn't work and the user account picture has no connection to pictures you can select in Control Panel.

I have a feeling some of these things could be addressed using DesktopX and other OD tools, but I'd have to retire before I'd have time for hobbies like that!

Fuzzy Logic
Reply #3 Friday, December 26, 2008 12:26 PM

If you want a functional Vista start menu you might like to try this: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Desktop-Enhancements/Shell-Replacements/ViStart.shtml

Never used it myself (hate the Vista start menu) but it works for some people.

Reply #4 Friday, December 26, 2008 12:37 PM

and the user account picture has no connection to pictures you can select in Control Panel.


Sounds like that skin has a replacement user icon and your settings in WB config are set to allow it to be used.

Settings tab, Skinning settings, uncheck If a skin has a replacement user icon then replace the current users icon with the skin supplied icon, then apply changes. ( not sure but this may be a setting that may require a reboot to change.)


Island Dog
Reply #5 Friday, December 26, 2008 7:52 PM

Make XP look like Vista

This article is a bit dated, but the basics are all there. 


Reply #6 Sunday, December 28, 2008 11:23 AM

Thanks the helpful suggestions.

Fuzzy Logic, I read a little about ViStart over at the VTP site. I'm also NOT a fan of Vista Start menu. Some aspects of the look are okay but not the feel/usability. I'm also not fond of "faux" UI elements added soley for realistic appearance. So I ended up switching to skins that don't have a fake search tool, like Arrow and Diamond.

Cavan1, I tried toggling the use replacement user icon setting, but it had no effect on Aero Ultimate skin. One good thing about Aero Ultimate compared to some others, including Diamond, is the user name and icon box are displayed properly. With Diamond and a few others, most of the user name and icon are truncated. These skins don't seem to have enough room at the top of the Start menu.

Island Dog, your article was very helpful. Saved me a lot of time finding nice skins, wallpapers and icons.

Unfortunately, information useful for new visitors (and returning visitors like me) is buried under an overwhelming mountain of content and difficult to find without some helpful souls pointing it out...

I could use help from you guys on one more topic. Of course, even the best skin we want to tweak a bit right? I just want to make a couple small mods like: (1) change Diamond to use Microsoft Vista start menu icon, (2) change Arrow skin Logoff and Shutdown button hover color to something other than baby blue, and (3) remove faux UI elements from Aero Ultimate.

But when I open these skins in SkinStudio and navigate to the elements in question all progress comes to a halt. The editor interface is just not intuitive as to what I should do next and digesting all the tutorials is overwhelming for someone who is never going to design an entire skin (at least not before I retire). Finally, do we need permission from the author even when making a micro modification on one's own computer?




Fuzzy Logic
Reply #7 Monday, December 29, 2008 4:57 AM

The only way to do the modifications you require is to use SkinStudio... Not easy for the beginner as you have found out. The button colour can be changed in any graphics program by locating the graphic in the skin folder, selecting the mouseover button on the shutdown button graphic and using change hue. Another one which is easy when you know how...

As for skin modifications, for personal use only you can do whatever you like to a skin

Reply #8 Tuesday, December 30, 2008 8:36 PM

I was trying to resist due to not really having the spare time for it, but in a moment of weakness I opened the SkinStudio tutorial. Sigh... Nice tutorial though!

Reply #9 Tuesday, December 30, 2008 8:44 PM

Take a pic of someone's screen that has Vista Aero, print it out, and glue it to your screen

Reply #10 Tuesday, December 30, 2008 8:57 PM

If you want a Vista clone with a twist, check out Broken Aero.

Reply #11 Tuesday, December 30, 2008 8:59 PM

Take a pic of someone's screen that has Vista Aero, print it out, and glue it to your screen


CarGuy, I noticed Broken Aero the other day. A bit twisted for me, but would make a great gag skin if you could get it on someone's computer without them knowing!

Reply #12 Wednesday, December 31, 2008 4:24 PM

Aero Midnight is an extremely slick WB. It comes as part of Theme Manager 2009, which is part of Object Desktop Ultimate. Also, there are other matching skins, like wallpapers and docks here in the WC galleries.

I'm not a huge fan of the default Aero look, but I do like Aero Midnight.

You might also try these:



These are a bit novel, but I like 'em!

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