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Enhance Windows XP Look & Feel the Easy Way

This is a guest article by Ghaus Iftikhar Nakodari from AddictiveTips.

If you are tired of the monotonous looks of Windows XP and even jealous of your friend’s Windows Vista, then there are some easy ways you can transform your Windows XP visually to something that is more appealing and interesting.

We have selected some of the best software that can change the visuals of Windows XP entirely into something more appealing and interesting.

Editor’s note: These “theme packs” will automatically make a large number of changes to your system, including hacking Windows to enable custom themes. You should make sure you have backed up your system before attempting any of these, and they aren’t for everybody – advanced system tweakers only.

You’ll also want to note that they are sometimes flagged by certain spyware/anti-virus applications, and we can’t necessarily vouch for them, although they usually are false positives.

Vista Transformation Pack

The Vista Transformation Pack is for Windows users who want to replicate the look and feel of Windows Vista on their Windows XP. After using this desktop enhancement to modify your Windows interface to look like Windows Vista, no one will notice that you’re using the same old Windows XP operating system. That’s great!

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The current available Version 8.0.1 includes the ability to save transforming information and to detect the strength of your machine to give suggested setup configuration, it is better to remove obsolete dialogs and MSN skin and other improvements. Since this software is a visual enhancement, it will greatly reduce your PC’s performance, if you don’t mind lagging your PC performance a bit, this is the best visual enhancement you could find.

The main updated features of this software are:

  • Added TrueTransparency 0.8.5 to bring Aero glass-like transparency effects
  • Added WinFlip 0.42 to emulate Vista Flip3D
  • Added CPU speed to welcome center
  • Updated Vista Sidebar to version 2.3 Lite

And it changes the looks of the below mentioned features.

  • Boot screen
  • Welcome Screen / Logon Screen
  • New msstyles files (visual styles)
  • New desktop and file icons
  • New toolbar icons
  • Progress Dialogs
  • Sounds scheme
  • System Tray icons
  • New Wallpapers
  • Windows Media Player Skins
  • And much more

Download Vista Transformation Pack from softpedia.com

FlyaKite OSX

Previously mentioned Flyakite OSX transforms your Windows XP visually into Mac OSX, including cursors, sounds, visual styles, login screen and other details. The software bundles a variety of individual tools to add additional Mac functionality such as colored folder icons, taskbar, dock and much more.

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If you are a fan of the Mac interface but prefer the Windows operating system, this should be in your must-try list of software. This transformation pack offers:

  • WinRoll programs for extra elements of Mac OSX
  • Object Dock
  • New boot/login screen for Windows
  • Changes the icons in the Start Menu
  • Converts the font and icons for Windows.

Download FlyakiteOSX from osx.portraitofakite.com

BricoPack Vista Inspirat Ultimate 2

Vista Inspirat Shell Pack is a complete custom shell pack for all Windows XP, consisting of modified icons and a new themed appearance for Windows XP.

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During the installation, it is possible to choose specific objects to be installed. Its your choice to install the customized version of MSN Messenger, Outlook Express, or Windows Media Player 11 or not.

Note: Before launching the installation you must restore Windows XP original state/dll (Without any shell packs). For example, if you have the Longhorn Transformation Pack, you must uninstall it before installing a new BricoPack.

Download Brico Pack from crystalxp.net

Editor’s Note: These theme packages will typically only work on XP Service Pack 2, so if you’ve upgraded to SP3 already you’ll need to wait until the authors update their packages.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/24/08

Comments (12)

  1. Sergio

    Out of those 3, I have used 2 of them (the Vista-like ones) and highly recommend them. I don’t recall exactly what was it that I didn’t like out of the Vista TP, but I think it was a little too much for me. Currently I use the Bricko Packs with only Rocket Dock and I’m very happy with it. Again I highly recommend them, and as the article says (DO A BACKUP…or thingy) because you never actually know if you are going to like it until you install it =)

  2. abhishek

    all these transformation packs becomes too heavy on system resources :(

  3. Tonino

    Hi,
    can you or anybody explain what’s the impact of these changes in the performance?
    That’s always the thing keeping me from using this kind of software

  4. The Geek

    @Tonino

    Abhishek is correct, these transformation packs will often slow your computer down quite a bit, especially if you have an older computer.

  5. Nakodari

    @ The Geek

    Thanks for publishing my post. I am looking forward to write more useful posts to help my fellow geeks. :)

    @Abhishek and Tonino

    I would recommend at least 2 GB of minimum Ram and at least 2.0Ghz Processor before you use these transformation packs, sorry for not mentioning this in the post. =)

  6. Gyffes

    Frankly, I go the opposite direction: no icons on desktop, no taskbar(s), a simply conky-style background screen, multiple desktops, launcher (launchy, Mercury, etc), blackbox as my finder.

    Lite as possible on the resources and makes the transition ‘tween my XP boxes and my linux boxes practically seamless.

    Of course, on my macs I have to settle for plain background and auto-hidden dock, but I have Quicksilver to make up the difference.

    But I find the more my look/feels approach 1, the more OS-agnostic I become.

  7. Rick

    For the Dock, use Object Docks + Stacks Dockets, it will be awesome. I use it, very low resources. It will work just like the mac, like the FAN or Grid pops out of the docket……Just FYI….cheers…

  8. Legace

    The Bricopacks (including Vista Inspirat) will no or very little resources when RocketDock, UberIcon, Y’z Shadow, and TransBar are turned off.

    The Bricopacks also are compatible with SP3, but you need to install SP3 BEFORE installing the Bricopacks.

    Also, I reccomend selecting “Custom” Install when the Vista Inspirat setup asks you for the installation mode. Then, unselect Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, Windows Movie Maker, (and possibly Outlook). This is because the Bricopacks were not designed for WMP10+, IE7+. Windows Movie Maker will not function properly if it is selected..

  9. Legace

    EDIT: The Bricopacks (including Vista Inspirat) will use no or very little resources when RocketDock, UberIcon, Y’z Shadow, and TransBar are turned off compared to the normal XP.

  10. Hatryst

    I think BricoPack is not the ‘best’ transforming tool, so far as I’ve used it…

  11. shah

    i have a computer with intell pentium 4 processor 3.0ghz and 1 gb ram. Will the it impact my comps performance significantly?

  12. Jackson Henney

    Hey, Im 14 and has tweaked my Laptop to a Vista theme, using VistaMizer 3.4.0.0 Its realy light on resources, and still runs fast, even though im using 256MB RAM and a 40GB HDD with XP SP2. I love it, WinFlip and TrueTransparency are nice although they slow the system down again, But what do you expect for 256RAM.! Try VistaMizer, its great!

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