If you want the look and feel of Windows 7 without the hassle of playing with the beta that is currently out, although, from the feedback I have read, it’s not really a hassle, but an improvement so far, there are a bunch of Windows 7 themes for Windows XP you can try out now. You can also add some of the features to your XP machine, such as Aero shake, Aero snap, you can change your dialog boxes and much more. Links await you below.
Now this site, Tweaking with Vishal, has some really good tutorials on how to make themes and the other customizations work in Windows, I have linked to some of the more interesting tutorials below.
Transform Windows XP into Windows 7 without using Customization Pack This one shows you how to do the Windows Theme or Visual Style, the Icons, the Boot Screen, the Login or Welcome Screen, Taskbar, Wallpapers, Progress Dialog Box, Shutdown / Log off Dialog Box, the About Windows Box, System Properties Dialog Box and add extras like “Aero Shake”, “Aero Snap”, “Aero Peek”, “Calculator” and “WordPad”.
[AIO] Ultimate Tutorial to Customize Desktop Context Menu in Windows Vista, Server 2008 and Windows 7 This one shows you how to add your desired application shortcuts in Desktop context menu e.g. Windows Media Player, Firefox, Winamp, Opera, Chrome, etc, you can add new useful options like Change Wallpaper, Change Theme, Change Cursor, Task Manager, Folder Options, Device Manager, Run, Search, Aero On/Off, etc in Desktop context menu, you can add any website link in Desktop context menu, you can remove unwanted options like your Graphics card settings from Desktop context menu.
Many, many great tutorials and how to’s are listed, definitely a site worth checking out.
And get the best of both worlds, almost, hehe.
Windows Vista Transformation Pack version 7 has been released and it looks really good from the screenshots I have seen, a bunch available on this website, Vista Transformation Pack 7 for Windows XP. This is called the most popular skinning utility for Windows XP, it also works for Windows 2003, and this one includes the new start menu. Here are some of the additions and fixes:
-Added default system font option for recovery
-Added Docking support for preview and taskbar replacement
-Added DPI auto-detection in Machine Configuration
-Added hiding menu bar option for Vista (Styler) toolbar
-Added information about KB925902 hot fix issues and solution on startup
-Added memory requirements checking for 3rd-party applications
-Added resetting DPI options and some extra information in Machine Configuration
-Added screen resolution auto-detection
-Added setting clear type font automatically after the transformation
-Added Vista transformation ?Express mode? (Make an appropriate setup configuration in single page!)
-Added ViStart (Vista Start Menu port for Windows XP/2003 with glass UI and search function)
-Added uninstalling existing components before updating
-Added WindowBlinds detection warning message (for user who is mistaken about glass border skin)
-Added Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 uxtheme patching support
-Fixed backing up system files bug on repair mode
-Fixed checking for Styler incompatibility with x64 edition OS
-Fixed file version checking bug that cause backup system files being overwritten by modified system files when update
-Fixed operating system checking bug (that allow user to install in Windows 2000 and below)
-Fixed Start Orb positioning bug
-Fixed Styler to execute Styler.exe only when user wants to hide menu bar to save up memory and some weird issues
-Fixed Styler to run in toolbar mode (prevent error and message popup)
-Fixed Vista (Styler) toolbar option with correction of menu bar
-Fixed uninstalling bug with system drive icon
-Fixed uninstalling routines
-Fixed uxtheme.dll patching detection bugs on machine without any service pack
-Fixed Windows Live Messenger skin uninstallation bug
-Moved extra dialogs in the main dialogs process so user can make all decisions before transforming
-Removed customized open/save dialog due to bugs in some applications
-Replaced closeapp with pskill (some programs reported closeapp as virus though it isn?t)
-Replaced Blaero?s Start Orb with ViOrb (Auto positioning and snap over the start button upon taskbar shifting)
-Updated battery tray icons
-Updated Getting Started and Help and Support FAQ
-Updated LClock x86 to version 1.62b
-Updated Maintenance Center to be Welcome Center
-Updated minor UI graphic resources in themes
-Updated Segoe UI font
-Updated Shutdown/Logoff dialogs
-Updated Start Orb to full circle version
-Updated Thoosje?s Vista sidebar to version 2.1
-Updated transformation to use backup system file if it has the same file version during update
-Updated updating function to uninstall previous components before updating
-Updated Vista logon screen (Thanks to SoFtEcH for updating my logon)
|-Added status message (Welcome, Shutdown, etc.)
|-Fixed user account disappearance bug on lower resolution
|-Fixed user account moving around when focused
|-Moved shutdown button to right part
|-Updated password panel resources
|-Updated user picture?s frame border
-Updated Visualtooltip to version 2.1
Download the Vista Transformation Pack from here, link is at the bottom. This page has some really good screenshots as well, check it out.
I browse some Windows XP and Windows Vista Theme sites occasionally, and just saw this new one on one of the best sites, Belchfire. It’s called Cabins and you have to see it. Here is a small screenshot:
Source: Belchfire Themes
Microsoft has released a Zune theme for Windows XP, this is an official skin for Windows XP that is dark grey in style with a orange Start menu.
Download the theme here.
Hot on the trails of the hidden program in Windows XP, there has now been discovered an unfinished theme for Windows XP called Royale Noir. Apparently, this was just now discovered, unless we find out otherwise.
During Royale?s development (the XP Media Center theme), the graphic artists also produced a black version of the skin, sans the overused ?glass? effect. The result is an aesthetic black skin named ?Royale Noir?, it even works with Office 2003.
Since the skin was never released (or reached final adjustments) there are a few issues with it: some of the colors don?t meet the overall ?feel? (they?re too purple-ish compared to the greys of the bitmaps) and the inactive title bars are a little too dark.
You?ll find it?s been signed by Microsoft and doesn?t require a custom UxTheme.dll in case there are any doubts as to its authenticity.
If you already have Royale installed, you?ll need to remove it as both of these skins share the same name.
This skin has not been released to anyone outside Microsoft, until now. Source: istartedsomething.com
Download the theme from here, save the files to a folder called royale noir in your c:\windows\resources\themes folder. Once extracted, double click the filed called luna in that folder, select the royale noir color scheme, hit apply and you are using the new theme. I kind of like it, I’m going to run it for a few days and see if anything is missing. Digg the story here.
Here is a great theme available at Belchfire.net.
- .msstyle, shellstyle and .theme files
- Compact and Normal Menu Versions
- Toolbar Icons
Click here to download.
Have you tried Windows Vista, but had to go back to Windows XP for some reason, driver didn’t work, device didn’t work, etc. Well, if you loved the new look, you can still get it with the Vista Transformation Pack. The pack changes your system icons, skins and toolbars and adds some new enhancements such as dick bar or even a different system tray clock. In this release you’ll get Windows Media Player skins, WindowBlinds skin, and lots of bug fixes from the previous pack. If you look on the download site, there are 53 reviews, most of which are positive, a few have apparently had trouble, as it is with all things, but looks like the majority like it and have had success with it. As always, do a system restore point, back up any important files and cross your fingers, hehe. Below is a list of stuff that has been added or fixed. Click here to get it now.
Added 2 Vista 5270 visual styles
Aero Style (Glass – Beta 2)
Aero Style (Vista – Beta 2)
Added 2 Vista Media Player skins
Windows Media Player 11 (TheVista.ru)
Added 2 Vista screensavers
Added 8 new Vista wallpapers from build 5270
Added Vista (Beta 2) stuffs such as
Added WindowBlinds glass skin
Corrected some Vista icons (Printers and Search)
Fixed annoying cached files in harddisk source (such as i386, servicepackfiles, etc.)
Fixed file extraction buffer error (some files that might be lost on some machines)
Fixed Glass2k uninstallation bug
Fixed unattended transformation issues on unattended installation (Works only on First-Run transformation mode)
Removed “Aero Style (Glass – 51xx)” since it?s similar to Beta 2 ones
Updated ToolBar style settings
Updated Vista Beta 1 progress buttons
Updated visual styles
Fixed TreeExpandCollapse transparency bug
Renamed “Aero Style (52xx)” to “Aero Style (Beta 2)”
Fixed CaptionButton background bugs in Vista visual styles
-Fixed Compact StartPanel bugs in Aero Style (Vista – Beta 1) visual style
Updated ListviewHeader image to new Vista ones
Updated Logoff/Shutdown button position in Beta 2 series
Updated new 5270 stuffs to Beta 2 series
Updated some improved elements in Beta 1 serires
Updated Tabitem images to ones used in IE7 in Beta 2 series
Full size screenshots are here.
Lots of activity and searches for Windows XP Themes, here are some great programs for skinning XP and adding themes, and links to great sites full of themes for Windows.
WindowBlinds 6 WindowBlinds is a program that that enables Windows users to completely change the look and feel of the Windows user interface. Users customize Windows by using visual styles (skins) created for WindowBlinds. With these skins, WindowBlinds can change the look of Title bars, borders, Task bar, Start button, Start menu, Progress animations, Toolbar icons, Explorer Views, and virtually every other part of Windows! Thousands and Thousands of skins are available for Windowblinds, so the $19.95 you will spend for the program will be all you will need to spend. Try it now.
WindowBlinds is the only program that can customize the GUI of Windows XP without having to alter system DLLs.
- Skins virtually every aspect of the Windows GUI
- Clean and easy configuration dialog.
- Tons of configuration options for users
- Animation supported on titlebars, buttons, and many other elements.
- Change the color of any visual style on the fly
- Per-application visual styles
- Safe, reliable way to change the look and feel of Windows
Buy it now for only $19.95.
XP Visual tools Finally a complete suite of Windows XP Desktop enhancement, XP Visual Tools it’s loaded with all you needs to tweak your Windows XP Desktop. Now you can do anything you want, from changing transparency level of XP Start Menu and XP Taskbar to easy swapping between different Windows XP LogonUI or Windows XP Wallpapers and applying Windows XP Skins (XP Themes) to old programs. And it’s only $9.85!
Talisman Desktop 2.5 is a desktop themes alternative and shell-replacement for Windows 9x/ME and NT/2000/XP, capable of transforming your desktop into an interface organized as you like. The program’s basic purpose: Launch other applications in a new interface, instead of the standard Windows desktop themes. But the opportunities presented by Talisman are much broader. The program does not limit your computer fantasies – draw anything you like and arrange it as your imagination tells you to. When you get tired of looking at the same screen – change it all over again. If you are in a good mood – throw flowers and favorite photos on the screen. If you’re not feeling so bright – leave the black screen with lonely Norton Commander or winking Bill Gates. Create invisible buttons – they will open those places and the pictures, known only to you. Construct galleries of the best pictures and photos. Simply create your own little world, created by and for you, instead of staring at the same lines of icons on your desktop, year after year. You can get free Talisman desktop themes at their website or you can even buy a cd-rom of over 200 themes for only $15.00. Get your copy of Talisman Desktop today!
This step-by=step article describes how you can distribute a customized desktop theme to other users of Windows XP-based computers. If you create a customized desktop theme, you can distribute it to other users to standardize the appearance of the Windows XP interface across the enterprise, within departments, or just to those users who admire your design and want to use it.
Click here for the kb article from Microsoft.
This article explains how to configure your desktop environment by using desktop themes. Nice article with the basic info on changing, creating and deleting desktop themes.
A desktop theme is a predefined set of window elements that help you personalize your computer to give it a distinctive look and feel. Themes affect the overall appearance of your desktop, including the background, screen saver, icons, fonts, colors, windows, mouse pointers, and sounds.
In Windows XP, you can use the Windows Classic look as your theme, switch desktop themes, or modify elements of existing themes to create new themes and customize your desktop with the appearance that you want.
Click here for the kb article from Microsoft.