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 3)
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on Apr 21, 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?

So I'm guessing that there's no resolution to my problem?   
on Apr 21, 2007
Buy Vista. Go to Tiger Direct, And software, OS, and it's a lot cheaper. I got Ultimate for $199.
on Apr 21, 2007
Buy Vista. Go to Tiger Direct, And software, OS, and it's a lot cheaper. I got Ultimate for $199.

Worst resolution ever. I got Vista Ultimate on my laptop and now guess where it is? Repairs because the network card is broken. Why do you think I got the skin on this computer? Use some common sense man.

Oh, and to the person who can possibly help me with my problem. My computer is far above the standards needed for this. I'm running on an ATI Radeon X1600 Professional.
on May 07, 2007
is the link to the transformation pack. Worked great for me

Personally, I wouldn't recommend upgrading to Vista just yet as there are too many things that don't run on it - drivers, programs and games (have Vista installed on my other computer). I'd wait for the companies to release more Vista compatible software...
on May 07, 2007
Microsoft is crazy that they want one of those skins, based on their own vista, removed...
they should be happy that people take the effort on making those things...
on May 27, 2007
I downloaded and installed Jemaho's Vista 2.4 and it works awesome. the best vista like style I've seen so far. I do not recommend the transformation pack. I had it installed and it messed up my PC.
Everything else is working fine for me

BTW....the Vista Sidebar shows just a plank page....I downloaded thoosje sidebar and it looks fine too   

Thanx Island Dog for the very nice article   
on May 27, 2007
This just one of many of great forum post Island Dog.
I look forward to your posts.
Excellent information as always.
Thanks again.
on May 31, 2007
Fun stuff, and nice... took a few minutes for me to get what I was doing only becuase I was rushing through and didnt read that I had to download a few more things other then That i fooled one of my good dumb friends into thinking it was really vista
on Jun 29, 2007
sophiesboy your computer's totally messed up
on Jun 30, 2007
the windows blinds is not working, it keeps giving me this msg everytime i try to start it up please help, i did everything in the message to try n fix it, i rebooted, disabled any anti spyware apps, even did the use additional process thing like about 10 times and still doesnt work, please help. email me here at

on Jul 10, 2007
Nice post man. Does this also include the preview feature with Vista, where if you hover your mouse over a certain window in the taskbar, it'll show like a thumbnail preview? Does this have the 'switch between windows' button as well? Thanks.
on Jul 10, 2007
Nice post man. Does this also include the preview feature with Vista, where if you hover your mouse over a certain window in the taskbar, it'll show like a thumbnail preview?

You can do that with WindowFX.

on Aug 29, 2007
Updated with new screenshots and information.

on Aug 29, 2007
Thank You ID for this update because I did not read the original post . So, thanks to you I found some new goodies I did not know about.  
on Sep 01, 2007
Just wanted to say thank you! I am new to customization and the step by step instructions and the programs to use while doing it made transforming my XP to a Vista-like appearance! It looks awesome...thanks for the help
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