Do you like Windows Vista only because of its newly revamped Graphical User Interface? It surely does have an attractive interface but many are still hesitant to upgrade. Some because of it’s massive system requirements, and some because of all the negative buzz around it. Whatever your reasons are, you still can get a Vista like look even on your Win XP system. Below are some of the better free tools that can help you to make your Windows XP look like Vista. Just make sure you got a bit of spare RAM on your system.
Vista Start Menu turns XP’s Start menu into one like on Vista. Not only do you get a better look but also many new features that are normally not there. These include: resizable start menu, zoom in/out, program launcher, desktop search, power buttons, tabs, and more. Another noteworthy aspect, Vista Start Menu does not change your system settings, thus making it easy to install, as well as simple to remove.
VTP changes XP’s interface, including the Start menu, the Control Panel, system dialogs, icons, and more, to Vista style. Also includes a transparency function to mimic Vista’s Aero Glass functionality. It’s probably the most comprehensive package out of all, so be very careful with it. While I haven’t experienced any problems some folks reported difficulties in uninstalling it (see comments here). Here are some of the notable changes that will be made to your system.
[Update: Version 8 was released yesterday (Nov 28). It’s seems to be better and much more stable. Read more here]
- Boot screen / Welcome Screen / Logon Screen.
- New desktop, file and toolbar icons.
- Progress Dialogs.
- New System Tray icons.
- New Sounds scheme.
- New interface visual styles.
- Windows Media Player Skins.
RocketDock is a portable, memory-friendly, smoothly animated, alpha blended application launcher that sits on your screen. It provides a nice clean interface to drop shortcuts on for easy access and organization. Some features that are worth looking at include: Minimize active windows to the dock, drag-n-drop interface, Dual-monitor support, Auto-hide and Popup on mouse over, and Running application indicators. Check it out in action in the video below
VistaMizer modifies about 400 of your system files, and when you reboot your system after installation you won’t remember how your old desktop looked like. It’s highly customizable and changes lots of stuff. What’s really good about is that it will keep backup of all the changes (so that you can easily revert it) and won’t replace/overwrite anything that would risk destabilizing your system.
WindowsBlinds is not a program specifically designed to Vistalize your system. It’s more a tool for applying different visual theme on your entire current Windows environment: changing overall look and feel, title bars, push buttons, start bar, start menu and more. Similar to the above RocketDock, it claims to be memory-friendly, so it shouldn’t slow down your system. Once installed, you can either apply one of the default visual themes or download one from the WindowsBlinds gallery (over 1000 themes). WindowsBlinds comes both in a free and paid version. Although the free version lacks some of the additional features it still does the job.
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