Visual style

Visual styles
Component of Microsoft Windows
TypeUser interface
Introduced inWindows XP
Classic theme

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 color 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 and the Themes service (shsvcs.dll in Windows XP and Vista; themeservice.dll in Windows 7 and later), while the resources for the individual styles are contained in resource-only DLL files with the .msstyles extension. A single visual style can contain multiple variants, although this was officially used only for the Luna theme.

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 and Silver variants.
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 The Aero Glass effect was removed in Windows 8, although it was still present in development versions.
Aero Lite Windows 8 - present Yes Used to implement the high contrast mode. "Windows Basic" is used as the display name in Windows Server 2012 and Server 2012 R2 despite using Desktop Window Manager.