Well, I have always been a sucker for modding your desktop to look unique. When you get your XP system, it comes with two themes. The Windows XP theme and Windows Classic themes. Both boring for the simple fact that they have been there for a long long time now. So, about 3 years ago, I spent quite a stint at modding my desktop trying various shells like Aston, LiteStep, etc. I finally decided that they were either too cumbersome to setup with very many text editing to make it look good [Read: LiteStep] or were just too complex a desktop [Read: Aston]. I mean they looked cool, but were too cumbersome to setup for a normal user. Furthermore, with my penchance for a clean install once in a while to remove the junk that I keep testing, they took way too much time to actually setup!
It was during one of these searches for the best desktop modding tools that I came across StyleXP, by TGTSoft. It was a very easy to use and powerful tool. Their GUI was very intuitive in setting up my visual styles and themes. But, the best part was the easy to install setup. Just one double click and your computer is ready to be modded with the very many visual styles available. And with StyleBuilder, you can even customize an available Visual Style or start one from scratch.
Since then, I have had Style XP as part of my regular updates and Re-install essentials. Have come across very a many Visual Styles and themes and there are some I like! What however, prompted me to write this was a very interesting theming tool called the Vista Transformation Pack. I came across surfing through MajorGeeks.com. This awesome executable by Mr. X sets up your system to look like the Vista Aero look coming soon with the Windows Vista release. With Vista taking some time to actually materialize in the market, he has managed to come up with some look alikes, which you can setup with StyleXP running on your system.
I thought that I mite as well, write a small tutorial for those who are interested in modding their desktop. So, here goes…
Disclaimer: What I have tried and tested comes with very many warnings and risks. There are many risks involved in setting this up, apart from getting the Style XP software. The required licenses are to be acquired by the user and will not be provided. Furthermore, I will not take any responsibility if your system behaves weird or crazy after trying this thing out.
Now, that the disclaimer is outta the way, let’s get going!!
Things you need:
– StyleXP – licensed version if you wanna run this look on your system for more than a month
– Vista Transformation Pack – downloadable for free.
– Basic knowhow of editing files
– Ability to take a risk and basic knowledge of how to get your system up and running in case there are any clashes with the software and your system
– Windows XP with SP2 running on your system [it’s a prerequisite of even StyleXP!]
– Window Blinds – to put the transparency Glassy aero skin, which is considered better, but then I haven’t tried it, and am quite happy with the Style XP visual styles.
Preventing any sorta clashes with your current settings:
– NVidia Desktop Enhancements and Effects: If you have an nVidia card, you may be familiar with the transparency effects you can attribute to your windows and the taskbar. Personally, I’d suggest disabling these effects to get a better feel of the Glass2k software bundled with the Vista Transformation Pack
– Style XP transparency settings: Remove all these settings, to get a better feel and prevent any clashes of the Glass2k software bundled with the Vista Transformation Pack
Installing Style XP!
Download the setup from TGTSoft website or any of the many links available if you search for Style XP in Google. After downloading the Style XP installation file, double click on the setup. It will automatically install and will ask you to apply the Panther style to check if it’s been installed properly. If your XP look and feel changes automatically after a “Please Wait” dialog, and a Mac look and feel is applied to your windows, then you are set to go. [You mite wanna put in your registration code and get your StyleXP a registered copy only after a restart, as I have encountered some problems while entering the registration code immediately after the install]
Restart your system and put in your registration code. You can tweak your StyleXP later [Instructions provided at the end of the tutorial]
Installing and setting up the Vista look and feel
Download the Vista Transformation Pack [vtp4.zip when I last checked it] from MajorGeeks.com->Appearance [Link to be posted]. Unzip and run the .exe! Mr X will take you through the setup process after quite a lotta disclaimers, which need to be read and paid heed to.
You also need to decide, which of the XP features would you like modded? For e.g. even the taskbar clock can be modded with a software called LClock, that can be installed with the software. It’s up to you, which all you wanna choose. Personally, I chose everything except for the boot up screen, having quite some trouble with that earlier. It may have been resolved these days, but then I don’t have the liberty or the time to go for a repair and a reinstall [mite be necessary]. So, I unchecked the boot screen and checked the remaining options.
Once the installation is done, your computer will be prompted for a restart. Here, if you have installed Style XP, then you get to choose the Visual Style you wanna put. Choose the necessary. I chose the Aero Longhorn – Beta 1 – Dark Thin Taskbar option. [having a thing for thin taskbars]. Choose to your liking and then you can later experiment as well.
And you are all set to enjoy the look and feel of Windows Vista/Aero in your system. It’s not the real thing, but is one of the closest things I have liked.
If you’d like StyleXP to take minimal resources, then check on the “Use No Resources” option present in the “Options” page.
Note: Never again blog about such boring topics, just because you have to blog!!
Note 2: Put in screenshots of the desktop modded with the transparency effect!