Windows Aero

Windows Aero
Microsoft Windows visual style
Windows Aero in Windows 7
Windows Aero in Windows 7
Included inWindows Vista and later
First seen inbuild 4015 (main)

Aero is a transparent Windows visual style used from Milestone 5 Longhorn builds to Windows 7 (window transparency was removed in 8). The first known build to reference Aero is Windows Server 2008 build 4028, and the last build with Aero (with window transparency) is Windows 8 build 8424 (fbl woa drop). In Windows Longhorn, Aero effects relied on the Desktop Composition Engine (or Desktop Window Manager in newer builds), which only worked in a few builds such as 4038, 4039, 4042, 4066, and 4074. In Windows Vista and 7, it relies on a WDDM driver due to the use of hardware acceleration, otherwise the Windows Basic theme would be used. This requirement was dropped since at least Windows 8 build 7880 with the introduction of a software rendering fallback to the Desktop Window Manager. The theme is also available in Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 (can be optionally enabled, and the Windows 8.x-like variant of the Aero theme is also available in Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 (also can be optionally enabled)).

Enabling Aero[edit | edit source]

No pre-reset builds of Longhorn contained the Aero theme, it is a very common misconception that Aero can be 'enabled' in pre-reset builds of Longhorn by renaming visual style files. What renaming files does is it tricks the system into thinking that you have access to the private, unleaked Aero theme, hence enables various DCE/DWM effects. For example, renaming plex.msstyles to aero.msstyles in M5 and M6 builds will give you the Glass DCE window frame, but the visual style will not magically turn into Aero. For M7 builds, the Aero visual style may be re-created using the Jade visual style, but the process isn't as simple as renaming jade.msstyles to aero.msstyles.

Windows Longhorn build 4038 to build 4042 (Lab06_n)[edit | edit source]

First, install a compatible Direct3D driver and ensure it works via dxdiag.exe. While you can run sbctl start in C:\WINDOWS\i386 to enable the borders, they will be opaque. The User Experience Desktop Server checks for the existence of %windir%\resources\themes\aero\aero.msstyles, if found, transparent Glass borders will be used instead of the opaque Metal border. In order to enable transparent borders, you need to go into C:\WINDOWS\Resources\Themes and copy the "Plex" folder ("Slate" for Lab06_n compile of build 4042). Paste back into the Themes folder and the new folder should automatically rename itself to "Plex - Copy" ("Slate - Copy" on the aforementioned build). Rename the pasted folder to "Aero" and rename the .msstyles file inside the folder to aero.msstyles. After that, restart the Theming service (either running net stop winux and net start winux or logging off and back on will work). At this point, you can run sbctl start again to enable the glass borders.

Windows Longhorn builds 4074 to 4082[edit | edit source]

Note: Much of the steps in this guide do not work on 64-bit builds since they only offer basic DWM functionality.

This is a guide on how to enable Aero theme in Longhorn build 4074 to 4082. It does not contain steps for patching system files such as Microsoft.Windows.WCPClient.dll to enable other Aero UI/features.

Video Drivers and Theme Files[edit | edit source]

You should use the SVGA driver pack if you have VMware 7.1. To install the driver, go to the Device Manager, and under 'Graphics' click 'Update Driver' with the mounted or burned driver pack ISO (Device Manager is not fully functional in build 4081 and 4082 because hdwwiz.cpl is missing. It is possible to port hdwwiz.cpl from another build to the \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 directory in order to get it to work). Builds 4081 and 4082 require booting into VGA display mode after updating the driver, otherwise it will result in a 0x000000B4 BSOD.

Builds 4081 and 4082 ship with an incomplete copy of DirectX 9, which can cause a black screen when DWM is enabled (see below). The missing components can be obtained from the DirectX 9.0b or 9.0c installer for Windows XP. The installer itself will not work on Longhorn, but this can be bypassed by manually extracting the contents of dxnt.cab and installing all of the .inf files found within from their right-click menus (answer no to all overwrite prompts), and copying any remaining files from dxnt.cab into System32. Verify successful installation by running the Direct3D tests in dxdiag (it may complain about DirectShow not being registered, but the spinning 3D cube animation can still confirm DirectX is functional).

The Aero theme files should then be reconstructed. Aero theme files may be reconstructed based on Jade, and here is a reconstructed aero.msstyles file. Once you have a reconstructed aero.msstyles, you then need to create a folder named Aero in the %WinDir%\Resources\Themes directory, and place aero.msstyles inside the newly created Aero folder. Once that is done, go back to %WinDir%\Resources\Themes, make a copy of jade.theme and name it as aero.theme. The last step is to modify the aero.theme file to load the reconstructed aero.msstyles. Open aero.theme with Notepad and change [email protected],-2013 to DisplayName=Aero, then replace all instances of 'Jade' with 'Aero' and save it.

The last step is to modify the Registry to allow the Aero theme to be applied. Open Registry Editor, browse to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ThemeManager, create a DWORD called DemoCheckOverride and set its value to 64222 (or 0xFADE in hexadecimal).

Differences between Aero and Jade[edit | edit source]

The public DWM theme, Jade differs from the private Aero theme in a few aspects. This section lists some technical information regarding the differences. If you wish to reconstruct the Aero theme yourself, you must have a good knowledge of the Longhorn theme format.

The private Aero theme turns DWM on automatically, when you apply it or when you log on. To allow the Jade theme to do the same thing, a BOOL named UsesComposition must be patched for its value to be TRUE. The private Aero theme contains a string under the theme documentation class called DemoCheck, which is used by the Theme Manager to make sure that the Aero theme may only be applied on Microsoft's demo machines. It contains the path name of a file on Microsoft's network share, which may only be accessed by Microsoft employees. The theme will apply if that file is accessible, otherwise an Access Denied error will be thrown. If the demo check passes, the Animated Preview Pane Aurora will also be enabled, but the demo check is ineffective due to some logical errors in its implementation. It is optional to have DemoCheck added to the Jade theme, but if you would like your reconstruction of the Aero theme to be as close to Microsoft's private Aero theme as possible, you should add the DemoCheck string \\cloak2\drop\bin\enlist.txt to the theme documentation. Needless to say, the private Aero theme contains Aero Glass resources such as transparent Glass window frames, but unfortunately they are currently unavailable. You may wish to replace those Jade (STREAM) resources with modified post-reset Aero Glass resources (it is recommended that you RealAero resources). If you choose to replace STREAM resources, do not forget to update those hard coded file sizes. The Animated Preview Pane Aurora BAML in the Jade theme is also outdated, which must be updated to the newest format in order for it render. Again, do not forget to change the hard coded file size.

MIL Effects[edit | edit source]

Now we need to go to the registry. Navigate in the registry to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer and create 2 DWORDs. Call the first DWORD MILExplorer and set the value to 1. The second is optional (setting it enables Aero Stars on the Desktop): call it MILDesktop and set the value to 1. Save the registry. Go to Control Panel → Display → Themes and choose the Aero theme. After some seconds, DWM will be automatically turned on and you will see the transparent taskbar and sidebar. If you added the MILDesktop key and if you have the drivers, you will also see the Aero Stars (animating stars on the desktop).

Please note that if the drivers are not installed, DWM will likely not load. If that is the case then you will not see Aero Glass borders and Windows Explorer windows will not render if MILExplorer is enabled (MILExplorer is dependent on DWM).

Windows Longhorn builds 4088 to 4093[edit | edit source]

These builds include an early version of the .NET Managed rewrite of DWM. This version would be abandoned after the Reset, replaced with a new native implementation different from the one used in builds prior to 4083.

The new implementation is found in the normally uninstalled component package C:\build\filerepository\windowmanager_a2ea4897, and is called windowmanager.exe. Two XAML files, DwmDsk.xaml and DwmWin.xaml, are missing, and need to be reconstructed in the same directory as windowmanager.exe. These were likely meant to be eventually included as BAMLs in the aero.msstyles file, had the managed DWM implementation not been abandoned due to the Reset.

To enable DWM, create C:\build\filerepository\windowmanager_a2ea4897\DwmDsk.xaml with the following content:

<?Mapping XmlNamespace="mscorlib_System" ClrNamespace="System" Assembly="mscorlib" ?>
<?Mapping XmlNamespace="windowmanager.WindowLayouts" ClrNamespace="WindowLayouts" Assembly="WindowManager" ?>
<Canvas xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/2003/xaml/" xmlns:wl="windowmanager.WindowLayouts" xmlns:System="mscorlib_System" xmlns:def="Definition" Width="800" Height="600" Background="#80FF0000">
  <Canvas.Resources>
    <Style def:Name="ItemsControlStyle">
      <ItemsControl/>
      <Style.VisualTree>
        <FlowPanel Width="400" Height="600" ItemsControl.IsItemsHost="true" Background="#8000ff00"/>
      </Style.VisualTree>
    </Style>
    <Style def:Name="ItemsControlStyle2">
      <ItemsControl/>
      <Style.VisualTree>
        <wl:CascadePanel ID="myCascadePanel" ItemsControl.IsItemsHost="true"/>
      </Style.VisualTree>
    </Style>
  </Canvas.Resources>
  <wl:CascadeItemsControl ID="DesktopView" Background="#ccffffff" Style="{ItemsControlStyle2}">
    <CollectionContainer Collection="*Bind()"/>
  </wl:CascadeItemsControl>
  <ItemsControl ID="TaskBarIconView" Width="400" Height="600" Background="#40334455">
    <CollectionContainer Collection="*Bind()"/>
  </ItemsControl>
</Canvas>

Create C:\build\filerepository\windowmanager_a2ea4897\DwmWin.xaml with the following content:

<?Mapping XmlNamespace="mscorlib_System" ClrNamespace="System" Assembly="mscorlib" ?>
<?Mapping XmlNamespace="windowmanager.WindowLayouts" ClrNamespace="WindowLayouts" Assembly="WindowManager" ?>
<?Mapping XmlNamespace="explorer" ClrNamespace="MS.Internal.Desktop" Assembly="System.Windows.Explorer" ?>
<FlowPanel xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/2003/xaml/" xmlns:wl="windowmanager.WindowLayouts" xmlns:System="mscorlib_System" xmlns:def="Definition" Width="800" Height="600" Background="#80FF0000">
  <FlowPanel.Resources>
    <Style def:Name="NonClientAreaStyleNone">
      <wl:UserWindowChrome Width="*Bind(Path=Width)" Height="*Bind(Path=Height)"/>
      <Style.VisualTree>
        <Canvas ID="Region_WindowTransform">
          <Image ID="ClientArea" Source="*Bind(Path=ClientArea)"/>
        </Canvas>
      </Style.VisualTree>
    </Style>
    <Style def:Name="NonClientAreaStyleBorder">
      <wl:UserWindowChrome Background="#800000ff" Width="*Bind(Path=Width)" Height="*Bind(Path=Height)"/>
      <Style.VisualTree>
        <Canvas ID="Region_WindowTransform" Background="#800000ff">
          <Image ID="ClientArea" Source="*Bind(Path=ClientArea)"/>
          <Text TextContent="*Bind(Path=Title)"/>
        </Canvas>
      </Style.VisualTree>
    </Style>
    <Style def:Name="NonClientAreaStyleFrame">
      <wl:UserWindowChrome Background="#8000ffff" Width="*Bind(Path=Width)" Height="*Bind(Path=Height)"/>
      <Style.VisualTree>
        <DockPanel ID="Region_WindowTransform">
          <DockPanel DockPanel.Dock="Top">
            <Canvas DockPanel.Dock="Right">
              <fullexp:HackImage xmlns:fullexp="explorer" Margin="0,0,0,0" fullexp:HackSource="theme://CompositedWindow,SDB_BACK,SDBTB_NORMAL" fullexp:HackNineGrid="9,105,150,9" Width="100%" Height="100%"/>
              <Grid Width="100%" Margin="0,6,0,0">
                <ColumnDefinition Width="8"/>
                <ColumnDefinition Width="*"/>
                <ColumnDefinition Width="8"/>
                <DockPanel ID="Region_Resize" Grid.Column="1" Background="#00000000">
                  <fullexp:HackImage xmlns:fullexp="explorer" fullexp:HackSource="theme://CompositedWindow,SDB_CLOCKGLASS,SDBTB_NORMAL" Width="20" Height="17" Background="#FFFF0000" DockPanel.Dock="Left"/>
                  <Text TextContent="*Bind(Path=Title)" DockPanel.Dock="Left" Margin="3,3,0,0"/>
                </DockPanel>
              </Grid>
              <DockPanel DockPanel.Dock="Bottom" Margin="0,26,0,0">
                <DockPanel DockPanel.Dock="Left" Margin="8,0,8,8">
                  <Image ID="ClientArea" Source="*Bind(Path=ClientArea)" DockPanel.Dock="Right"/>
                </DockPanel>
              </DockPanel>
              <DockPanel Width="100%">
                <fullexp:HackImage xmlns:fullexp="explorer" ID="FakeCloseButton" fullexp:HackSource="theme://CompositedWindow,SDB_EXPANDO_CLOSED_HORIZ,SDBTB_NORMAL" Width="43" Height="14" DockPanel.Dock="Right" Margin="0,1,6,0" fullexp:HackNineGrid="0,0,14,0"/>
                <fullexp:HackImage xmlns:fullexp="explorer" ID="FakeMaximizeButton" fullexp:HackSource="theme://CompositedWindow,SDB_STARTBUTTON,SDBTB_NORMAL" Width="25" Height="14" DockPanel.Dock="Right" Margin="0,1,0,0" fullexp:HackNineGrid="0,0,14,0"/>
                <fullexp:HackImage xmlns:fullexp="explorer" ID="FakeMinimizeButton" fullexp:HackSource="theme://CompositedWindow,SDB_TASKBACK,SDBTB_NORMAL" Width="27" Height="14" DockPanel.Dock="Right" Margin="0,1,0,0" fullexp:HackNineGrid="0,0,14,0"/>
              </DockPanel>
              <DockPanel Width="100%">
                <Canvas ID="CloseButton" Width="43" Height="14" DockPanel.Dock="Right" Margin="0,1,6,0" Background="#00112233"/>
                <Canvas ID="MaximizeButton" Width="25" Height="14" DockPanel.Dock="Right" Margin="0,1,0,0" Background="#00112233"/>
                <Canvas ID="MinimizeButton" Width="27" Height="14" DockPanel.Dock="Right" Margin="0,1,0,0" Background="#00112233"/>
              </DockPanel>
            </Canvas>
          </DockPanel>
        </DockPanel>
      </Style.VisualTree>
    </Style>
    <Style def:Name="NonClientAreaStyleFrameNonAero">
      <wl:UserWindowChrome Background="#80ffff00" Width="*Bind(Path=Width)" Height="*Bind(Path=Height)"/>
      <Style.VisualTree>
        <DockPanel ID="Region_WindowTransform" Background="#80ffff00">
          <Canvas DockPanel.Dock="Top" ID="Region_Resize" Margin="6,6,6,0" Background="#00112233">
            <DockPanel Width="100%">
              <Canvas ID="CloseButton" Width="20" Height="20" Background="#FFFF0000" DockPanel.Dock="Right"/>
              <Canvas ID="MaximizeButton" Width="20" Height="20" Background="#FF00FF00" DockPanel.Dock="Right"/>
              <Canvas ID="MinimizeButton" Width="20" Height="20" Background="#FF0000FF" DockPanel.Dock="Right"/>
              <Text TextContent="*Bind(Path=Title)" DockPanel.Dock="Left"/>
            </DockPanel>
          </Canvas>
          <DockPanel DockPanel.Dock="Bottom" Margin="0,0,0,6">
            <Canvas DockPanel.Dock="Right" Margin="6,0,6,0">
              <Image ID="ClientArea" Source="*Bind(Path=ClientArea)"/>
            </Canvas>
          </DockPanel>
        </DockPanel>
      </Style.VisualTree>
    </Style>
  </FlowPanel.Resources>
</FlowPanel>

Install an Aero.msstyles theme intended for 4074 (4074's included Jade will work, but 4093's Jade won't), and enable it.

Finally, DWM can be activated by running C:\build\filerepository\windowmanager_a2ea4897\WindowManager.exe a (with an arbitrary argument to allow it to run as a regular application, rather than a service), or by dragging any file onto WindowManager.exe in Explorer.

DWM is originally meant in this build to run as a Windows service. Unfortunately, for some reason, it fails to access theme data when running as a service, necessitating the use of a different DwmWin.xaml file, that doesn't rely on the theming service. This can be found below:

<?Mapping XmlNamespace="mscorlib_System" ClrNamespace="System" Assembly="mscorlib" ?>
<?Mapping XmlNamespace="windowmanager.WindowLayouts" ClrNamespace="WindowLayouts" Assembly="WindowManager" ?>
<FlowPanel xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/2003/xaml/" xmlns:wl="windowmanager.WindowLayouts" xmlns:System="mscorlib_System" xmlns:def="Definition" Width="800" Height="600" Background="#80FF0000">
  <FlowPanel.Resources>
    <Style def:Name="NonClientAreaStyleNone">
      <wl:UserWindowChrome Width="*Bind(Path=Width)" Height="*Bind(Path=Height)"/>
      <Style.VisualTree>
        <Canvas ID="Region_WindowTransform">
          <Image ID="ClientArea" Source="*Bind(Path=ClientArea)"/>
        </Canvas>
      </Style.VisualTree>
    </Style>
    <Style def:Name="NonClientAreaStyleBorder">
      <wl:UserWindowChrome Background="#800000ff" Width="*Bind(Path=Width)" Height="*Bind(Path=Height)"/>
      <Style.VisualTree>
        <Canvas ID="Region_WindowTransform" Background="#800000ff">
          <Image ID="ClientArea" Source="*Bind(Path=ClientArea)"/>
          <Text TextContent="*Bind(Path=Title)"/>
        </Canvas>
      </Style.VisualTree>
    </Style>
    <Style def:Name="NonClientAreaStyleFrame">
      <wl:UserWindowChrome Background="#8000ffff" Width="*Bind(Path=Width)" Height="*Bind(Path=Height)"/>
      <Style.VisualTree>
        <DockPanel ID="Region_WindowTransform" Background="#8000ffff">
          <Canvas DockPanel.Dock="Top" ID="Region_Resize" Margin="6,6,6,0" Background="#00112233">
            <DockPanel Width="100%">
              <Canvas ID="CloseButton" Width="20" Height="20" Background="#FFFF0000" DockPanel.Dock="Right"/>
              <Canvas ID="MaximizeButton" Width="20" Height="20" Background="#FF00FF00" DockPanel.Dock="Right"/>
              <Canvas ID="MinimizeButton" Width="20" Height="20" Background="#FF0000FF" DockPanel.Dock="Right"/>
              <Text TextContent="*Bind(Path=Title)" DockPanel.Dock="Left"/>
            </DockPanel>
          </Canvas>
          <DockPanel DockPanel.Dock="Bottom" Margin="0,0,0,6">
            <Canvas DockPanel.Dock="Right" Margin="6,0,6,0">
              <Image ID="ClientArea" Source="*Bind(Path=ClientArea)"/>
            </Canvas>
          </DockPanel>
        </DockPanel>
      </Style.VisualTree>
    </Style>
    <Style def:Name="NonClientAreaStyleFrameNonAero">
      <wl:UserWindowChrome Background="#80ffff00" Width="*Bind(Path=Width)" Height="*Bind(Path=Height)"/>
      <Style.VisualTree>
        <DockPanel ID="Region_WindowTransform" Background="#80ffff00">
          <Canvas DockPanel.Dock="Top" ID="Region_Resize" Margin="6,6,6,0" Background="#00112233">
            <DockPanel Width="100%">
              <Canvas ID="CloseButton" Width="20" Height="20" Background="#FFFF0000" DockPanel.Dock="Right"/>
              <Canvas ID="MaximizeButton" Width="20" Height="20" Background="#FF00FF00" DockPanel.Dock="Right"/>
              <Canvas ID="MinimizeButton" Width="20" Height="20" Background="#FF0000FF" DockPanel.Dock="Right"/>
              <Text TextContent="*Bind(Path=Title)" DockPanel.Dock="Left"/>
            </DockPanel>
          </Canvas>
          <DockPanel DockPanel.Dock="Bottom" Margin="0,0,0,6">
            <Canvas DockPanel.Dock="Right" Margin="6,0,6,0">
              <Image ID="ClientArea" Source="*Bind(Path=ClientArea)"/>
            </Canvas>
          </DockPanel>
        </DockPanel>
      </Style.VisualTree>
    </Style>
  </FlowPanel.Resources>
</FlowPanel>

This produces a much simpler border design, but can run as a service, and will work without installing a 4074 version of Aero.msstyles. To enable running as a service, import the following into Registry:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\DWM]
"Start"=dword:00000003
"Type"=dword:00000210
"ErrorControl"=dword:00000001
"ImagePath"="C:\\build\\filerepository\\windowmanager_a2ea4897\\windowmanager.exe"
"DisplayName"="Desktop Window Manager"
"Description"="Provides desktop window management and theming services."
"ObjectName"="LocalSystem"
"Group"="UIGroup"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\DWM\Enum]
"0"="Root\\LEGACY_DWM\\0000"
"Count"=dword:00000001
"NextInstance"=dword:00000001

DWM can then be started using net start dwm, or from services.msc. Do not set the startup type to Automatic, otherwise DWM will start prematurely during boot, resulting in a broken desktop!

Once started, DWM can be stopped by pressing Ctrl+Shift+F10 (not Ctrl+Shift+F9 as in other builds), regardless of whether it's running as an app or a service.

Windows Vista pre-Beta 2 builds[edit | edit source]

This is a guide to enable Windows Aero (i.e. Desktop Window Manager) in Windows Vista build 5212 to build 5284 in VMware Workstation and Player. It is recommended to use the version 11 (Workstation) or 7 (Player) or older, as newer versions starting from 12 have rendering problems in which the display would flicker and only active window or part of it will render properly. This is likely due to changes in display engine to support DirectX 10 and OpenGL 3.3[1][2].

Video Drivers[edit | edit source]

First, the SVGA driver pack must be used and installed via Device Manager. Any SVGA driver from VMware version 6.0-7.1 will work, however VMware 6.0 compatibility must be used on build 5231 due to the BSOD bug.

Enabling Aero[edit | edit source]

  1. After you installed the drivers, open regedit.exe. If you're running build 5048 to 5231.2, browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\DWM (if the DWM key does not exist, create it). If you're running build 5259 to 5284, then browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\DWM instead (create the DWM key if it's not there).
  2. Create a DWORD key named EnableMachineCheck (UseMachineCheck for 5259-5284) and set its value to 0. Log off and back on and Aero should automatically be enabled.

Optional Keys[edit | edit source]

You can also use these DWORDs in the DWM key you created to get various effects.

  • Blur - set it to 0 to disable blur, else set it to 1.
  • BlurSigma (build 5212-5270 only) - set it to a decimal value between 1 and 30, depending on the value it will control the blur intensity. If set to a value out of the 1-30 range, it will disable transparency and make borders black.
  • Animations- if set at 1, the Aero animation effects will be enabled. It can be disabled by setting the key to 0.
  • AnimationsShiftKey - set it to 1 to be able to press Shift key during animations to slow them down.
  • RenderClientAreaOnly - setting it to 1 will cause the window borders and title bars to disappear, use with caution!

Bugs and quirks[edit | edit source]

  • Since these builds uses LDDM instead of the WDDM used in newer builds, Vista drivers will not work. Windows XP drivers are required to enable Aero in these builds.
  • Aero is not known to work on builds 5098 and 5112 outside of real hardware due to 5098/5112's DWM requiring LDDM drivers. However, if one were to replace uxss.exe in either builds with a patched uxss.exe made by LucasB, it is possible to use DWM with XPDM drivers.
  • Aero is also not known to work on builds 5308.6 to 5356 outside of real hardware.
  • When Aero is enabled on build 5098, build 5112, and build 5212, the borders become transparent, but the taskbar doesn't.
  • Before build 5259, there is a bug that causes Aero animations to lag. It is possible to work-around this by ending and restarting the uxss.exe process.
  • Flip3D is activated via the Windows Key + Spacebar in build 5212 and build 5219, rather than Windows Key + Tab in later builds.
  • The Vista WDDM driver can be installed starting from beta 2 to RC1 builds (tested on 5384 and 5600) with a replaced msvcrt.dll from an RC2 or RTM build, but this results in triggering a license error.

Aero in Windows 8/8.1[edit | edit source]

Early builds of Windows 8 use the same Aero theme as Windows 7. It was later modified to have a bigger, centered title bar caption in build 7814, then a smaller close button on dialogs in build 7880 (which also no longer requires a WDDM driver to be installed, as the DWM can now run in software-rendering mode), and remained the same until Windows 8 Developer Preview, which now has sharp corners instead of rounded in most elements.

In Windows 8 Developer Preview, it's possible to enable the glass effects in the Aero Lite theme (referred to as Windows Basic) by running WindowsAnytimeUpgradeResults.exe.

While Windows 8 build 8432 and later builds (including the RTM and Windows 8.1) removed the glass effects, it is possible to get it back, though not fully functional as it was more of a bug than a workaround. There's two methods to do so:

  • Method 1 (resulting in the Aero Lite theme): Right click the desktop and open up Personalization. Select any of the high contrast themes to apply it. Once applied, click on Window color to open it up. Leave the page open and minimize it. Open a separate personalization window and apply the theme you used before applying high contrast and close out of the personalization window you just opened. Go back to the other personalization window that you minimized and click save changes to save the high contrast colors. To disable, reselect your current theme or change the desktop background or the color of your taskbar and window borders. This also works on Windows 10 as well, but it changes the Aero theme to Aero Lite (except for applets like volume control). The same bug can also be used to enable transparency when using the Aero Lite theme on Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Release Preview, albeit being more stable with full colorization.
  • Method 2 (using the default theme):
  1. Press Win+R, type regedit, then hit Enter to open Registry Editor.
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\DWM and change the value ColorizationGlassAtribute to 2.
  3. Open Task Manager, in the "Process" tab, end Desktop Window Manager.

Bugs and quirks[edit | edit source]

  • In Windows 8 Developer Preview, the Aero theme does have bugs. For instance, the lower half of the window background of some applications which use Aero for the entire window (e.g. Desktop Gadget Gallery or Mozilla Firefox), have a gray square.
  • In Windows 8 RTM and Windows 8.1, if the "glass" effects were enabled using a bug described above, a broken "glass" effect will be enabled that results in the border to draw contents of menu, icons, or other window above it to itself. Moving or resizing the window will also leave the trails of the title bar and cursor. Maximizing the windows will temporarily clear out those.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]