Make XP look like Vista!

Make XP look like Vista!

Summary: I've had a number of people ask me what I think of the transformation packs that allow you to make Windows XP look like Windows Vista. I had to be honest and say that I'd never tried to do this because I've been running Windows Vista betas for months. Anyway, the other day I was creating some operating system new images in VMware and Virtual PC and I decided to give it a go.

TOPICS: Windows

I've had a number of people ask me what I think of the transformation packs that allow you to make Windows XP look like Windows Vista.  I had to be honest and say that I'd never tried to do this because I've been running Windows Vista betas for months.  Anyway, the other day I was creating some operating system new images in VMware and Virtual PC and I decided to give it a go.

So I downloaded the12.5MB Vista Transformation Pack 5.5 (by Windows X) which changes many of the system icons, skins and toolbars and also adds new enhancements such as a dock bar and a new system tray clock.  The Vista Transformation Pack is also 100% free.

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Here are a summary of my thoughts about the Vista Transformation Pack.  If you just want to see how it looks, skip straight to the gallery I created.

  • First the caveats
    The installation I carried out in a brand new XP Home virtual PC installation went without a hitch.  However, I also tried installing the Vista Transformation Pack onto an old, very used XP install and that didn't work (the installer crashed early on).  This is an indication that it's possible things could go dramatically wrong during installation so make sure that you have a full backup of your system, just in case!
  • Deep changes
    The Vista Transformation Pack makes some very deep changes to your XP install.  It's possible (very possible) that installing a new application, update or service pack could roll back some but not all of these changes and leave you with a system that's in limbo somewhere and which then may or may not work.
  • Take your time
    There are a lot of steps in the install process and a lot of options to choose from.  I recommend that you only undertake the installation if you have a good 30 minutes to spare so that you can examine the options available to you.
  • Performance
    I didn't notice any performance hit from installing the Vista Transformation Pack, which was quite amazing!
  • Overall impression 
    While Vista Transformation Pack can does give the "impression" you are running Vista it doesn’t really stand up to close scrutiny.  For example, the Aero look it offers is, at best, only a "faux Aero" look.  Put it side-by-side with a real install of Vista and you immediately see the difference.

Remember too that the Vista Transformation Pack only makes your PC "look" like Vista – you don't get any of the other benefits of running Vista (such as better security), but something to  perhapshave some fun with on a rainy day!

Gallery of images, covering both installation and the after-effects of installing the pack can be found here.

Topic: Windows

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  • Considering the fact it's a shameless rip off...

    of Macintosh OS X, how could they have gone wrong? I'm just amazed it took them this long to put the OS X GUI on top of XP. Can you imagine how crappy Windows would look, if not for Apple? Bill Gates should give several billion dollars to Apple for the R&D.
    • I use Linux -- and all those MacOS X screens look very much Linux-like

      GNOME interface in particular, apart from a couple of icon changes that few would notice.

      Given OS X is a modified FreeBSD, and how Apple originally took from Xerox's GUI and mouse concepts, Bill Gates isn't alone in "borrowing".
      • Actually...

        Apple licensed and paid Xerox for the right to use their technology. On top of that, the Xerox stuff was quite primitive compared to what Apple released at the time. Apple took the concepts and ran with them. Unlike Microsoft, who really didn't innovate anything. Microsoft basically copied the technology, and did a poor rip off to boot. Apple took a Model T and produced a Corvette, while Microsoft just made another Model T.
        • Interesting

          Model T was the most succefull car in history(may only have been less then Volkwagon original bettle). MS use the model t as the base and produce a better looking, faster and more enjoyable model T WHILE keeping it affordable so most people can still get it. Apple took the model T, put on cheap glossy plastic red shell on top of it and sell for 5 times the original price, son only peoples with more money then brain will buy it.
          • Yes the Model T was a marvel for it's time....

            However no one with a lick of sense (unless a collector that is)
            would pruchase one today. Apple took the Model T concept and
            added a better frame, rust proof body, electric windows and
            much more secure locks on the door. Far better suspension and
            much better and safer tires and brakes. Even beefed up the
            engine. IE brought the Model T (A great vehicle that should be
            honered and respected) and brought it into the future.

            Pagan jim

        "Apple originally took from Xerox's GUI"

        No they didn't. It was paid for fair and square. Read. . . .

        "Xerox allowed Apple to use their ideas in their machines. As
        Wozniak says on his Website, ?Steve Jobs made the case to Xerox
        PARC execs directly that they had great technology but that
        Apple knew how to make it affordable enough to change the
        world. This was very open. In the end, Xerox got a large block of
        Apple stock for sharing the technology. That?s not stealing

        "Insanely Great" by Steven Levy
        Chapter 4
      • Also...

        Apple is based on UNIXbsd, which isn't free
        Graham Fluet
        • OSX, Vista, play nice

          It is rediculous to argue the origins and ethical nature of anything from Apple, Microsoft, or any other corporation for that matter. Macheads like to think that their OS is superior because it's built on some society changing philosophy when it was made for money ... period. Just like Windows. Jobs stole from Xerox and IBM, Bill gates stole from Dr. DOS and Apple, and we ALL steal from them.

          If you like your Mac, use it. If you like Windows, use it. The winner in the OS wars will in the end probably be some flavor of Linux anyway because folks can get it for free. Oops, were back to money again aren't we. And I guess then Mac and PC users will all get mad that the open source community "stole" from everyone. It's called innovation, and it's always been glorified theft. Whether you pay for it or not.

          BTW, I use all three.
      • I use KDE 4 on LInux, its looks similer to Windows, but better looking.

        Good looks, good performance, far better security, why NOT give Linux (and KDE ) a try? see for screenshots! Personally Gnome seems like a bad Mac clone.
    • Since OS X

      is just a over price inferior rip off of freeBSD, what's your point. Beside it took Apple for ever to use a real processor (Intel) but they where realy fast to realise that they need to put a real os (and not some pathetic Un*x imitation). So now consumers who realise only after purchase that OS X is totaly useless. Can still save the apple grossly overprice hardware and install Windows XP and end up with a usable computer.

      If Apple is so great, why it simply not open OS X and sell it for any x86 based PC? This will offer MS real competition and use REAL choice. i whould like to see how it will compare to windows once it as to support ALL the hardware and not just a very restrictive and overpriced selection.

      Apple as yet to realise that a computer is not a video game console and if they hope to take on Windows in the OS market they need to ditch the hardware tie up and try to sell OS X to any X86 PC.
      • Bitter much!?! I'm sure if you contacted the Woz and Jobs

        and told them of your inability to get over the "swirly" they gave
        you in JR High they'd try to make amends. Fact is they probably
        forgot all about you and that dark time it their youth where they
        were members of the now infamous DarK Side Geek Gang and
        would like to do something to make it better for you.

        Pagan jim
        • I seriously doubt

          that either the Woz or Jobs ever gave anyone a swirly, a wedgie, a wet willie, or even the dreaded rear admiral. I would be willing to bet that the Woz, received them almost on a daily basis. Jobs may have faired slightly better.
      • So to you ...

        ... computer systems are a religion? It confounds me that people get so angry over someone's choice of operating system, or of one company's (Apple in this case) choice of how to manufacture their product.

        If Apple wants to open their operating system to install on all computers, I imagine they will. But they haven't done that yet. That's how they have chosen to build their product. Whether you or I like it or not, it seems to work for them, as they are doing pretty well.

        In the end, it's just an operating system. If it doesn't work for you, don't use it. Apparently, though, it works for more than a few people.
        • I agree but...

          the people who think MS is evil for having a monopoly on the desktop need to realize that Apple is just as (if not more so) responsible for the OS monoculture we find ourselves in. You are right that Apple can choose to run their business in any way they choose but one of the side effects of that choice is that MS has no competition in the desktop space. People get so mad that MS "took" a monopoly when the truth is that Apple gave it to them.

          And before the Linux zealots jump down my throat, Linux is a great desktop OS but no one markets it as such. Apple is the only other company that markets a desktop OS but have decided they will sacrifice marketshare for high profit margins.
          • Cake and eat it, too

            Apple is growing market share and keeping their high profit
            margins. So much for that theory.

            MS is not evil for having a monopoly, MS is evil for abusing their
            monopoly. Three words: WGA. I can guarantee you if Apple or
            Linux has a 20% market share, WGA would disappear so fast
            your head would spin.

            MS forces the "You are guilty by default" chokechain on
            customers because it is a monopoly. That's why people don't like

            But, NonZealot, you are a fine example of the saying:

            "It is far prefereable to have a domesticated man than a slave,
            for the domesticated man is a willing partner in his servitude. I'll
            bet you love your gold-plated MS-branded choke-chain.
          • I like cake!

            [i]Apple is growing market share and keeping their high profit margins.[/i]

            Yeah, at less than 1% per year. For Apple, that is good growth but at this rate, we'll have to wait 15 years before Apple is relevant in terms of marketshare. That is assuming that they are competing in all areas of desktop computing. Right now, Apple is not competing in the top 2 largest desktop segments: corporate and budget. For Apple to reach 15% marketshare, it would have to capture 100% of the high end desktop computer market, something that isn't likely to happen.

            [i]I can guarantee you if Apple or Linux has a 20% market share, WGA would disappear so fast your head would spin.[/i]

            That sounds like a great plan. So when are Apple and Linux going to make a real effort to capture 20% marketshare? I haven't seen it yet.

            [i]I'll bet you love your gold-plated MS-branded choke-chain.[/i]

            Let me ask you a very serious question: why do you assume that I'm a Windows only guy? If someone says something that isn't 100% glowing about Apple or Linux, you immediately assume that they use nothing but Windows? In my case specifically, you would be dead wrong. I have more Linux boxes at home than I do Windows. Linux is great technically but a lousy, terrible, awful competitor on the desktop. Care to dispute that instead of trying to insult me?
          • Well he did have a real good point there....being

            a monopoly is in and of itself not illegal. However how you use the
            power of said monopoly can be.

            Pagan jim
          • I like a good laugh.

            Only in the fantasy world of Windows zealots is a 20 billion
            dollar a year company with 30-40 percent profit margins an
            irrelevant computer company.

            We know you're a Windows zealot because you will spin ANY
            Microsoft position no matter how extreme. It doesn't matter why
            you're a Windows zealot, whether it is because you love
            Microsoft or hate Apple.

            You're very post here shows it. You take a company that is the
            envy of every other computer maker out there; a computer
            company that has been profitable when others weren't, a
            company that is undergoing double-digit growth in sales, and
            does more than $20 billion a year, and you call it irrelevant.

            At the same time, you gloss over the truly offensive spyware MS
            is integrating into their new OS.

            Thus, you are a Windows Zealot.
          • No point at all

            [i]a monopoly is in and of itself not illegal. However how you use the power of said monopoly can be.[/i]

            First, he wasn't talking about legal vs illegal, he was talking about evil vs... saintly? MS never illegally maintained their Windows desktop monopoly, they got in trouble for using that monopoly to get into other markets. None of this changes the fact that Microsoft maintains its desktop OS monopoly because Apple won't trade profit margins for marketshare and Linux companies are incompetent marketers. The funny thing is that MS's biggest and most dangerous competitors on the desktop are the companies who sell pirated copies of Windows. Hence WGA.

            Second, Apple includes a WGA equivalent with TPM. I guess Apple is evil too! Since I've never tried to say that MS was more "moral" than Apple, I'm happy with the conclusion that both are evil to the core. :)
          • I'm confused...nothing new there butt..

            I thought MS got into trouble for say in the past having
            exclusivity contracts with distributors using it's OS Monopoly to
            force distributors to bundle their applications to the exclusion of
            others? That seems to be using one's established monopoly to
            create other monopolies at least too me.

            See this was "USING" their OS monopoly to strong arm others to
            do things they might choose under other circumstances not to
            do. So I thought my original post saying being a monopoly is
            not illegal but how you use it can be still stands.

            Now I will agree both are evil because by their very nature they
            are buisnesses and by being such they are inevitably EVIL!!!

            Pagan jim