Getting tired of that same old windows that you’ve been looking at for the last decade? In this issue of Tech Tips, I’ll show you how you can get an entire new look for your Windows PC.

There are an always increasing number of skins available all over the internet to give a fresh face to windows. All the skins that I will present in this article work on Windows XP exclusively (with the one exception of Windows Blinds) and should not be performed on other windows platforms (or other operating systems for that matter)! These skins modify system files and it is important to create a system restore point before installing these packages. You can create a system restore point go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore and choose Create a Restore Point.

The first set of skins that I will introduce you to give your computer the visual aspects of windows vista, while still actually having XP.

The first skin used for this is called the Vista Transformation Pack. This is more than just a skin; it will change many other aspects of your computer to make it look almost identical to Windows Vista. Visit http://www.windowsxlive.net/?page_id=15 to download and install this package. Before installing make sure you read the documentation and make sure you really want to do this. Take a look at a few screenshots of this package below.

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Another skin called Vista Inspirat Ultimate 2, also gives your computer a skin similar to that of Windows Vista, but is not as accurate or extreme as the Vista Transformation Pack. This is available at http://www.crystalxp.net/galerie/en.id.130.htm. A screenshot of this package is shown to the left.

Next, there are skins available for those people who want their PC to look like a Macintosh computer.

The package for doing this is called FlyakiteOSX. This package is similar to the Vista Transformation Pack except obviously it transforms your computer to Max OS X instead of Windows Vista. Your computer will still function like XP; the difference is it have more of a clean Macintosh Interface. It also may change a few applications like MSN Messenger, for example, to give it more of a Mac feel. If there are any parts of the package you don’t want to have installed you will be given the option to choose this during the package installer. To download and install this package, visit http://osx.portraitofakite.com/. A screenshot of this package is shown below.

There is also more customizable skinning software available that will let you customize the style of your PC, changing many different aspects, such as icons, boot screens, and window frames, separately. There are two main programs that are made to do this and both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Unfortunately, both of these programs cost a small amount of money. Within each of these programs you will probably find more Mac and Vista skins that you can use.

The first of these is called Windows Blinds. This is the one program presented in this article that will run on Windows Vista as well as Windows XP. Windows Blinds takes a different method than the other similar programs in that it WILL NOT take up system memory and there should be no difference in the performance of your PC. Windows Blinds can be found on the internet at http://www.stardock.com/products/windowblinds/.

The next is called Style XP. This program has a small disadvantage under Windows Blinds because it will install a new driver on your system that will run each time you start your computer, in order to see the windows themes. This takes a small amount of system memory and can cause a small amount of slowing on your PC. Style XP can be found at http://www.tgtsoft.com/prod_sxp.php.

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