Sunday, July 09, 2006

Customising the Appearance of Windows XP

After alot of work customising my Windows desktop over the weekend, it currently looks like this:

My desktop

1. There is an application launcher, or a dock at the top corner, similar to Apple OSX.
2. The overall Windows Vista look (black, transparent bars).
3. Transparency effects to go with the Vista look.

In this post I hope to give a semi-tutorial on how to customise your Win XP to add more aesthetics and functionality (but mostly for aesthetics :p).

Have you ever seen a Mac OSX desktop? Sleek and beautiful but what I probably envy most is the Dock, which is a nice way to launch your applications:

The OSX dock seen at the bottom corner

I have searched the internet far and wide (for many months!!) and I have finally found a cool Windows XP equivalent: Objectdock. Guess what? The basic version is free! It is a very highly recommended download, and I recommend this as high as I would recommend Picasa and Firefox. Seriously get it now. It's a pretty way to launch applications.

The Objectdock has cool mouseover effects
Vistafying Windows XP
(i.e Making Windows XP look like Vista with transparency effects)

The Vista Transformation Pack

Now this is slightly more dangerous, so proceed with caution. The Vista Transformation Pack 4.0, is a free software that , as the name says, converts Windows XP to look like Microsoft's next generation OS. It converts the boot screen, login screen, icons, taskbar and also adds a sidebar gadget thingy as pictured. However, please be warned that the Transformation Pack alters system files so make sure 1. You use System Restore to save a configuration before installation. 2. You read the instructions carefully and 3. Follow the instructions to the dot.

Having said that, I installed Vista Tranformation Pack 4 easily, without any single problems at all. Kudos to the coder of this program, it's amazing! (albeit purely for aesthetics). To be honest I am not 100% happy with the look and feel of Vista, so I may change back to the XP look or try out a different theme later.

Gadgets and Sidebars

A screen full of widgets (err gadgets)

Gadgets or widgets are nice to have as, not only do some of them look cute, they offer added functionality to your desktop like RSS feeds, weather reports, various clocks and even CPU or network monitors. There are MANY options indeed for good Gadgets and Sidebars, in order of recommendation:
1. Yahoo Widget Engine aka Konfabulator
2. Google Desktop
3. Desktop Sidebar

Wallpapers and Icons

Lastly, what is a plethora of gadgets and transparency effects without a nice looking wallpaper to complement them? An excellent repository (or is it directory?) for wallpapers and icons could be found here.

I hope the semi-tutorial helps! Enjoy tinkering with your desktop but don't come chasing me if your system is messed up by the Vista Transformation Pack!! Also, please not that all these applications use up RAM and may slowdown your system slightly (but on my less than average system, the slowdown is barely noticeable).


mynn said...

i uninstalled vista transformation pack after one week.

to be honest, it looks very pretty indeed. but the transparency effects are annoying after awhile (imagine reading a word document where you could see EVERYTHING underneath, it's extremely disracting).

so despite the prettiness, im uninstalling vista.

missing some of the effects already, but oh well

ps - another thing is: it slows down my computer a bit.

Anonymous said...

Looking for information and found it at this great site... film editing classes