Transform your XP Desktop into a Vista-like experience!
Published on March 23, 2007 By Island Dog In OS Customization

Introduction

Despite Windows Vista being out for a while now, not everyone is ready or willing to make the big "switch" just yet.  Some people are waiting for the time to buy a new PC, some are not upgrading because their hardware isn't up to it, and some well.....just don't want to.  Well there's nothing wrong with wanting to stick with XP for a while, but maybe you would like to change the "look" of XP to more of a Vista "style". 

The interest in making Windows XP look like Vista has been going on for a while, but I get asked to this day what are the best ways to change the desktop to look more like Vista.  Some want just the visual style changed, and some want the entire look and feel of their desktop changed to reflect Vista. 

In this article, we'll explain the quickest and safest way to change Windows XP to look more like Windows Vista.

Changing the Visual Style

For this you will need WindowBlinds 6.  WindowBlinds 6 is available as a stand-alone application, or part of the Object Desktop suite of desktop enhancements.  WindowBlinds is the best and safest way to change the complete look of Windows, whether it's to make it look like Vista, or any one of the thousands of skins available.

WindowBlinds 6

WindowBlinds 6 adds true glass effects including an optional blur which will give you the best results in your "transformation" from XP to Vista.  It also has a "Vista-ize me" feature which sets the transparency and blurring to best resemble Windows Vista.  Additionally, transparency is adjustable and you can set it to the desired levels yourself.

"Vista-ize me" feature

There seems like a countless number of Vista skins are available for download, some even caught the attention of Microsoft and had to be removed.  So for today's guide I am going to use a Vista skin that will give you the Vista "look" and takes advantage of WindowBlinds features.  These are two of my personal favorites.

There are many different variations of Vista-inspired skins available.  You just need to take a browse through sites like WinCustomize and find one that you like. 

Wallpapers

Now that the visual style is done, lets find a nice wallpaper.  While there is not a definitive wallpaper for Vista, I'm going to use one that is popular and goes with the Vista theme. 

WindowBlinds has a built-in wallpaper changer that makes it easy to change your wallpaper, but you can also apply it like any other wallpaper.  There is a huge gallery of wallpapers in the WinCustomize galleries, so you can browse there and find one that suits you best.    

Changing the boot screen

While Windows Vista doesn't have much of a bootskin that doesn't mean you can't use one.  Using the Bootskin (free) application you can change the boot screen in Windows XP.  Here are a couple of my favorites to add to the Vista look, but you can find thousands more in the Bootskin gallery.

Changing the Bootskin


Changing the logon screen

Once you're past the boot screen you are probably facing a logon screen now, and that's just as easy to change as well.  Download LogonStudio (free) for Windows XP, load up your favorite logon and your Vista transformation is one step closer to complete. 

After you install LogonStudio, it's simply a matter of choosing from the list of logons you downloaded, and clicking "apply".  Here are some logons I recommend, or search for Vista logons here.

Changing the Windows Logon

Changing the Icons

IconPackager gives you ability to change nearly all your Windows icons at once, and it is also easy to create your own icon packs.  This is a great solution as you won't have to worry about changing individual icons, and there are hundreds of other icon packs available.  I had a hard time finding an icon package that was close to what Vista really is, so I used one that I liked and thought fit well anyways.

IconPackager

Adding a Sidebar

Thanks to DesktopX, adding your own Vista Sidebar is easy as a few clicks.  One of my favorites is the Vista Sidebar by kennhk.  He also makes some stand-alone widgets that fit perfectly with your Vista desktop also.  Once you have DesktopX installed it's as simple as a couple of clicks and your sidebar will be up and running.  It's also very easy to configure DesktopX objects to add or remove the components you want.


Conclusion

We have gone over the ways you can easily change your default Windows XP desktop into a Vista-like experience.  The skins and themes I used for this guide are just a small sample of the many Vista inspired skins that are out there.  You don't have to make it exactly like Vista, you are free to pick and choose skins and make your desktop as personalized as you want. 

This is the XP desktop that we have transformed into a great Vista looking desktop.

XP desktop now looks like Vista

If you need some more information on some of these programs work and how they change your desktop then I'd like to recommend reading the "Change Your Desktop Theme" articles.  I would also recommend taking a look at Object Desktop, which includes many of the applications used to create our Vista desktop.


Comments (Page 1)
on Mar 23, 2007
WoW that's a great article ID thanks a lot and for Feature too
on Mar 23, 2007
like Quentin94 said, great article Island Dog!
on Mar 23, 2007
Or, just use the Vista Transformation pack, free to anyone. (I can't remember the site, just google 'vista transformation pack 6.0')

Although, this seems much prettier. hehe.
on Mar 23, 2007
im not suure about the vista transformation pack i hear it brings in errors and can f**k up your pc if you do it wrong or have wrong requirements.
on Mar 23, 2007
Cool article - u forgot few things - Cursors, sounds and visual effects ..... u can get them with window fx ....
on Mar 23, 2007
I recommend caution in using the transformation pack. I have it on a Maximum Pc disc and I'n not too thrilled with the way it installs...so I didn't. I'll stick with Object Desktop. That way I know I'll get the 'good stuff'
on Mar 23, 2007
Me, I prefer Windows '98 desk top themes. I love the creaky old house and flying bat. Wish they were the new Vista instead of all the surrealist New Age Born Again Van Gogh stuff that is Vista.
on Mar 25, 2007
Awesome, thats all i have to say. oh, plus a thank you for taking the time to do this lol
on Mar 25, 2007
Just another little warning.

Based on the article above, I went out and downloaded Jemaho's Vista 2.4 and tried to load it using WB 5.50.021 and it froze the program. I rebooted and immediately deleted the file, but since then very little has worked the same.

Anything weather related (widget, konfabulator, samurize plugin) has not worked, regular widgets fail to show up on the screen, ObjectBar operation screwy, and a multitude of other small annoyances keep popping up.

I figure I run a pretty average machine: Dell with XP SP2, 1.5GB RAM, Pentium 4 at 3GHz, and a Radeon X300 card with 128MB, so I don't think there is anything unusual about my setup that might cause this.

So even though he does some of the best looking blinds I've seen, I am going to stay away from Jemaho's work. For some reason it really seems to mess up the innards of my machine.
on Mar 25, 2007
thanks for the info ID
on Mar 25, 2007
My Choice : Aero Glass WB :WWW Link

on Mar 25, 2007
Thats strange sohpiesboy, I was running it for a while with no problems at all.


on Mar 25, 2007
Sohpiesboy, try running Windows Script 5.6 - I have a few things mess stuff up and running this sometimes helps
on Mar 26, 2007
Thanks
on Mar 26, 2007
This is the best!