You might think I’m crazy, but possibly my favorite thing about Vista is that it’s black and glossy. You’ve got to admit that Vista is an attractive looking OS! In comparison, Windows XP just looks terrible. The first thing I usually do is switch the default blue theme to the silver one. Even still, I have often longed for something better.
Recently, I came across BricoPack Vista Inspirat Ultimate 2. Quite the mouthful, but it’s really quite simple – download and install it, and it transforms your desktop into a Vista theme. Normally I wouldn’t give something like this a second glance, but I was feeling particularly curious one day, so I tried it. Of course, I created a restore point first, and I strongly recommend you do the same (here are the instructions). I didn’t run into any problems though.
I have to say, I love what Vista Inspirat did. My taskbar and windows are black and look like Vista. The “Start” menu has been replaced with the Windows orb. The icons, cursors, and sounds all mimic Vista. Two small programs run in the background to provide extra effects – Y’z Shadow adds a nice border and drop shadow to windows, and UberIcon provides some nifty animation for navigation. And best of all, I haven’t noticed any performance issues. The only two problems I have are that the user icon doesn’t show up in the start menu (it’s just a white box, big deal) and that “screen artifacts” appear somewhat more regularly (you know, parts of a window not refreshing right away). Otherwise it’s great!
One thing to note is that Vista Inspirat includes a utility called RocketDock, but it is an out-of-date version. I’d definitely upgrade to the latest version as it is more stable and includes some useful new features. RocketDock is pure eye-candy:
Looks like Mac OS X! It works quite well as an application launcher though. All you need to do is drag shortcuts or files to the dock.
One other thing you might need is the UxTheme Patcher, which enables you to install custom themes like Vista Inspirat. I say might need, because I already had it installed, so am not sure if it is strictly required. Here’s the download if you have Windows XP SP3.
Have fun, but be careful – backup anything important and make a restore point first!