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


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. 


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.


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.


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 2)
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on Mar 27, 2007
thanks for this web........
I am chilean and i not speak english very well...understand.

hi to all........

adios que esten bien y muy buena esta web........
se agradece..........

on Mar 28, 2007
wow thanx for a fantastic article. really enjoyed reading it this morning with my coffee.
on Mar 28, 2007
Another great article ID.  Thanks
on Mar 28, 2007
For the bootskin I will be having a Default Vista bootskin I just uploaded it
on Mar 29, 2007
Hello world,

I would like to change my background-dialog-buttons and shutdown-dialog-background.
Are there any I could download from?

Thanks in advance!

on Apr 08, 2007
What is the windowblinds version that you used in the preview?
on Apr 08, 2007

What is the windowblinds version that you used in the preview?

WindowBlinds 5.5 I believe.

on Apr 13, 2007
I followed these directions and when I installed Bootskin and Logon studio, my computer started acting strange so I uninstalled these programs under Control Panel>Add Remove programs but now everytime I boot the system the Logon Studio, Vista Reaction is still present. Then when Windows starts up, my custom desktop wallpaper is gone and it has the windowblinds desktop paper that automatically comes with the windowblinds. Does anyone know how to get rid of whatever files Logon Studio and Boot Screen have left behind? I no longer can capture pictures from my desktop either so my newly reformatted drive (only been a month) is junk again.
on Apr 13, 2007
Reinstall LogonStudio and select "restore default XP logon", and click apply.  That should restore the default logon and you should be able to uninstall.  However, I suspect bootskin was your problem as it does not work with all Bios.

Next, open your WindowBlinds configuration and select "override default settings".  Look at the setting "apply the wallpaper included with a skin" and make sure it is unchecked.  Also in "change my wallpaper", you can select a new wallpaper from there, and make sure "use skin wallpaper" isn't selected.

on Apr 16, 2007
Hm, I cannot find those certain settings in Windowblinds. I'm using version 5.1.

Under Background bitmaps I selected "override the skin settings for background bitmaps"
Under Basic Settings I unselected "Apply any wallpaper supplied"

on Apr 16, 2007
I would recommend updating to 5.5.  If you are a registered user then you can easily do this through Stardock Central.

on Apr 20, 2007
I need help regarding at your Vista Skinning Article...:

(Desktop & LogOn Screenshots - Look at text for Desktop & Toolbar, not same as yours & look at Logon, I boxed in the points of interest being the 621 in the corner and the text that's sliced in half. Also I blacked out things on my Desktop screenshot to keep personal information confidential. I hope you don't mind)

I have followed your tutorial on Windows MCE and the results are great except for a few things:

- The bootskin is low quality and has grains all over it (no screenshot ).
- The logonscreen has one piece of text sliced in half and the numbers "621" in the bottom left corner
- The skin doesn't have the same text as yours even though I put the nessecary font files into the folders and installed the file needed to keep the stuff intact.

P.S. As per the Windows.exe file. Is there a backup I can get? I didn't realize I overwrote it until after the process was done because I was over preoccupied. Can you help me with this please?
on Apr 20, 2007
There's one thing that is on Vista, that you can't get anywhere. I'll let you transformers figure it out. But. It cannot be found. Or fixed.
on Apr 21, 2007
My Choice : Aero Glass WB :WWW Link

Mine too, Carl
on Apr 21, 2007
Um... When pressing Alt + Tab you get those cool windows. Never seen that in a skin for Vista, ever.
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