How to Make Windows 10 Look Like Windows XP, 7, or 8.1
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While change is typically a good thing, changes to an operating system (OS) can be difficult to handle. Operating systems like Windows tend to change radically from version to version, leaving a few customers wandering through their new OS for programs and folders.

Since these shifts are largely based on the user interface (UI), anything from window padding size changes to a missing Start button may leave users in the dark. Not anymore! We’ll show you to turn your Windows 10 into the Windows version look-alike of your choice!

Windows XP

Windows XP suffers from an unusual problem: it’s the oldest Windows OS distribution that remains familiar to and even popular among a high share of users. More importantly, those who regularly use Windows XP are typically most comfortable with its UI. That’s why simulating a past UI while maintaining modern OS safety standards How to Tweak Windows XP and Stop Worrying About the Apocalypse How to Tweak Windows XP and Stop Worrying About the Apocalypse Are you forced to stay with Windows XP? Using an unsupported operating system is risky, but don't despair! We show you how you can carry on running Windows XP, if you must. Read More is of the the utmost importance.

To convert your Windows 10 UI to XP, download Classic Shell. Once installed, type Classic Start Menu in your Start Menu and click Classic Start Menu Settings to open the Settings for Classic Start Menu window.

Classic Shell allows users to reskin, change, or recolor their Start Menu and Start button. Before continuing on, download the Windows XP suite for Classic Shell. This file’s contents will allow you to re-texture some windows properties, simulating XP’s UI. Extract the contents to a folder of your choice, but keep its location in mind.

Start Menu

First, check the option Show all settings located at the top of the window. This will open all program options. Then, head to the Start Menu Style tab. Click on the radio button labeled Classic with two columns, then Select skin below. Click on the drop down menu beside the Skin parameter and select Windows XP Luna.

classic shell luna

Configure the settings whichever way you’d like and click OK.

Taskbar

Next, head to the Taskbar tab. Check the Customize Taskbar option before continuing. Click on Taskbar texture, then on the ellipse () button. A file option will open. Head to where you downloaded your XP suite and select your xp_bg file, which will appear as a thin image. Classic Shell will use this template to re-skin your Taskbar.

classic shell xp taskbar

Then click on the Horizontal stretching option to activate the skin. Select Tile for both Horizontal and Vertical stretching options.

Start Button

We’ve changed the UI a bit to seem more XP friendly, but there’s one thing we’re missing: the Start button. Luckily, Classic Shell allows you to change this options as well. Head to the Start Button tab and click Replace Start button. Then click Custom button, Button image, and the ellipse () button.

classic shell xp button

Locate the image labeled XPButton, which looks like a stacked image, and double-click the image. Size the image to your Taskbar.

Finishing Touches

Since Windows XP is a vestige of a different time, little more is needed to achieve the desired effect. Just tack on the classic Bliss wallpaper and you should be done!

Windows 7

This effect will require a lot of the same functionality present in Classic Shell.

Start Menu

Head to where you selected your previous Skin parameter (previously Windows XP Luna) and select Windows Aero.

classic shell 7 menu

Edit the settings as you see fit.

Taskbar

Head to the Taskbar tab of Classic Shell. While Classic Shell does not have a direct Windows 7 clone for your Taskbar, it does have a Glossy option which closely resembles it. Check Customize taskbar and enable the Glass radio button.

classic shell 7 taskbar

Adjust the opacity and color as you see fit as well.

Start Button

Head to this forum post and download the Windows 7 Start button image. Classic Shell will interpret it as an interactive Start button.

classic shell 7 button

Head to your Start Button tab and proceed to replace your previous button with the one linked above.

Finishing Touches: Windows Aero Glass

Aero Glass creates a nice, transparent edge to your system program windows. Windows Aero Glass, though a large aspect of Windows 7’s allure, has mysteriously disappeared from Windows 10. That said, getting the glass theme on your 10 device is manageable.

aero on windows 10

A fantastic little application that applies Aero Glass beautifully was developed by a Reddit user, /u/HV250. You can both enable and edit the Aero theme, creating a perfect last touch to the overall Windows 7 feel. If that doesn’t work and you’d like to scout out other Aero Glass methods How to Get the Aero Glass Theme on Windows 10 How to Get the Aero Glass Theme on Windows 10 It was one of the most requested features from Windows Insiders. Still, Microsoft decided not to add Aero Glass back to Windows 10, after removing it in Windows 8. Here's how you can get it... Read More on Windows 10, we’ve got that covered as well.

Windows 8.1

While Windows 8 wasn’t as successful as its counterparts, it did incorporate a new and exciting feature: the Modern UI (formerly Metro UI) Are You Confused by the Windows App Terminology? Are You Confused by the Windows App Terminology? Did you ever wonder what's the difference between an application, program, or software? Or whether that Windows app is metro, modern, universal, or plain straight? You're not alone. Let us clear things up! Read More . While largely touted as Microsoft’s attempt to merge the tablet and desktop OS market, Modern UI incorporated plenty of useful features for users with touchscreen capabilities.

Modern UI

There are two ways to incorporate the Modern UI into Windows 10 — both by default! The first enables Start Screen which, unlike the typical Start Menu, will display your pinned Start Menu programs across the whole of your screen. To activate, right-click an empty space on your desktop and select Personalize.

Click on the Start option of your Personalization window and select the Use Start full screen option.

use start full screen

This option will not provide you with a full Modern UI. Instead, it will simply create a full screen version of your Start Menu.

start full screen

The second default option for simulating Modern UI is a fuller version of the previous option: using Windows 10’s tablet mode, you can convert your typical desktop into a full screen Start Menu with added Taskbar functionality. To activate, head to your Action Center and select Tablet mode.

tablet mode

Not only are these default options useful, they provide a slightly different dynamic to your Start Menu without removing the very functionality that makes the Windows Start Menu so iconic. There are, however, third-party options which provide a closer look and feel to Windows 10. Omnimo is one of the best.

Omnimo is a complete Rainmeter package devoted to simulating the Windows 8 desktop. Simply install and configure. If you’re not very familiar with Rainmeter, have no fear. We’ve got a Rainmeter guide A Simple Guide to Rainmeter: The Windows Desktop Customization Tool A Simple Guide to Rainmeter: The Windows Desktop Customization Tool Rainmeter is the ultimate tool for customizing your Windows desktop with interactive wallpapers, desktop widgets, and more. Our simple guide will help you create your own personal desktop experience in no time. Read More to help.

While limited to Rainmeter, you’d be hard-pressed to find an alternative as smooth and natural as Omnimo. Best of all, it’s completely free!

We Need to Go Back (Sometimes)

Sure, there’s some novelty in simulating past Windows UIs in Windows 10. There are some, however, which depend on the familiarity of previous OS versions to perform daily tasks on their PC.

Whether you’d like to take a stroll through memory lane The Forgotten Retro Sounds of the Early Windows Era The Forgotten Retro Sounds of the Early Windows Era This year marks the release of the final Windows version. 20 years earlier, Windows 95 was born. Do you remember how it sounded? Join us on a nostalgic audio trip down memory lane. Read More , or want to enjoy the familiarity of a past OS with the security of a modern one, you should now be able to get to customizing in no time.

Which other past Windows features would you like to see in Windows 10? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Miike
    May 19, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    This browser is owned by communist china. I would not use it!!

  2. Vferg
    May 18, 2017 at 1:07 am

    I don't particularly have any use for either system but I do use regular win10 at work and home and to me if this new stripped OS does gather a following of some sort then maybe finally we will start seeing some decent apps in the store! I don't believe I have found one useful app in all the years they have been pushing this store. So here is hoping it will boost creativity.

  3. Charles
    May 16, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    WTF? Are you mad?
    How can you encourage such a waste of time and energy for such an utterly useless outcome.

    • Doc
      May 16, 2017 at 7:05 pm

      Some people like to make their own decisions on how Windows is going to look. After all, office workers have to sit in front of their system all day long; why not make it look nicer (or just more familiar)?
      You need to realize that not all people are going to agree that it's "a waste of time and energy" to do something they WANT to do. It's a matter of choice.

    • Doc
      May 16, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      I wish UXStyle had continued development; it worked on Win10 1607, but hasn't been updated since. I can't use UXThemePatcher, since VirtualBox objects to the patched DLLs and won't run. Microsoft, with its twice-annual "major updates," disables anything and makes patching for themes a "moving target" that is hard to keep up with.