Visual style

Visual styles
Component of Microsoft Windows
Typeuser interface
Introduced inWindows XP
Last included in
Replacesclassic theme
Replaced by

A visual style is a set of bitmaps and other graphics used to modify the Windows user interface, which was introduced in Windows XP. They are more advanced compared to a scheme applied on top of the classic theme, which was the original built-in customization mechanism used prior to Windows XP. The behavior and effects of visual styles later changed significantly in the Windows Longhorn and Windows Vista operating systems due to the inclusion of a desktop compositor.

The visual style engine is implemented in uxtheme.dll, while the resources for the individual styles are contained in resource-only DLL files with the .msstyle extension. A single visual style can contain multiple variants.

List of official visual styles[edit | edit source]

Name Appears in Finalized? Notes
Watercolor Windows XP (pre-releases only) No Also known as Business or Professional. Included in Windows XP build 2223 to 2419.
Sample Test Visual Style Windows XP (pre-releases only) No Internally known as Mallard. Included in Windows XP build 2410 - 2419.
Candy Windows XP (source tree) No Found in the leaked Windows XP source tree. Not included in any known builds.
Luna Windows XP Yes Shipped in Blue, Olive Green, Silver variants (internally called Blue, Homestead and Metallic, respectively).
Royale Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
Windows Embedded 2009
Yes Variants of this theme include the unfinished Noir variant, the Zune theme and the Embedded theme from Windows Embedded 2009.
Plex Windows Vista (pre-reset builds only) No Included in M3 - M6 builds, Placeholder for Aero.
Slate Windows Vista (pre-reset builds only) No Included in M7 builds.
Jade Windows Vista (pre-reset builds only) No Included in M7 builds.
Windows Basic Windows Vista - present Yes Can't be enabled under normal circumstances since Windows 8.
Windows Aero Windows Vista - present Yes Aero Glass removed in Windows 8.
Aero Lite Windows 8 - present Yes Used to implement the high contrast mode.

Referred to as "Windows Basic" in Windows Server 2012 and Server 2012 R2 despite using Desktop Window Manager.