Skin Vista to look like XP

You may be stuck with Vista, but with a few tweaks and tricks you can make it look and feel just like its predecessor.

Restore the Start Menu


Now that you've rolled back the overall theme, it's time to revert to the classic Start menu--the one with a fly-out program list instead of Vista's cramped, scrolling list. Open the Control Panel, and type start menu in the search box. Click Change Start menu to Classic view, and then choose the Classic Start menu option. Click Apply, and say hello to the menu layout you know and love. Like the Windows Standard theme, the Classic Start menu will seem more Windows 2000 than Windows XP, but if you've installed WindowBlinds with the Windows XP Style theme as discussed in the preceding page, it will look just about perfect.

Bring Back the Hourglass


Not of fan of the cycling blue circle that appears when Vista is busy? Here's how to restore XP's familiar hourglass pointer: Right-click any empty area of the Desktop, choose Personalize, and then click Mouse Pointers. In the Scheme drop-down menu, select Windows Standard (large or extra large, your choice). Click OK.

Turn Off User Account Control

Most Vista users already know that User Account Control, or UAC, is the scourge of the earth. It pops up constantly, such as when you try to change a setting or install a program--it surfaces so frequently, in fact, that most users just click past it without a second thought, thus defeating its purpose entirely. (Seriously, Microsoft, did you user-test Vista at all?) XP never bothered you this way, so if you truly want to re-create the XP experience, UAC must go.


Fortunately, showing it the door is a cinch. Open Vista's Control Panel, and type UAC in the search box. Click the Turn User Account Control (UAC) on or off link. On the next screen, clear the Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer check box, and then click OK. Rebooting seals the deal, sending User Account Control back to hell where it belongs.

Restore the XP Boot-Splash


While Windows takes its sweet time booting, it presents you with a splash screen. This may seem trivial, but if you want to make Vista as XP-like as possible, that means restoring the XP boot splash screen. To do so, you'll need two things: an XP boot image (which you can find by doing a Google image search for "xp boot splash") and a free utility called Vista Boot Logo Generator. This is not a beginner-friendly operation, so when you install the program, make sure to read all of the instructions and follow them to the letter.

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Rick Broida

PC World (US online)
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