Windows Classic

Windows Classic
Component of Microsoft Windows
Windows 7 classic theme.png
Windows Classic in Windows 7
TypeUser interface component
Introduced inWindows 95
Replaced by
Visual styles

Windows Classic refers to the built-in control style of Microsoft Windows, specifically the variation that has been introduced with Windows 95 and further refined in later system versions. Unlike other visual styles, which are implemented using .msstyles resource files, the classic theme is implemented directly in the User API and offers more customization of various element sizes and colors. Due to easy scalability of font rendering, all symbols used by the user interface are found in a font called Marlett rather than bitmaps.

One of the only major change to the classic theme to occur since Windows 95 is the introduction of support for two-color gradients for window captions in Windows 98 when using a 16-bit color mode or higher. The menu bar styling was also updated with the main menu buttons now having a more button-like appearance. At its peak, Windows 2000 offered 22 different presets for the classic theme, including 4 high contrast accessibility presets and some of which were also available in larger sizes.

Ever since Windows XP introduced a theme engine, which allowed more complex modification to the system's look and feel, the classic theme is no longer used by default in client versions, but it could still be enabled in the Control Panel. Most of the color schemes have been removed in Windows Vista, except for Windows Standard, the High Contrast ones and Windows Classic, while the latter has been removed in Windows 7. Although server versions also included the theme engine, the classic theme was still used as the default theme due to performance reasons up to Windows Server 2008 R2. Until Windows 8, the classic theme was used to implement high contrast settings.

With the introduction of software rendering in the Desktop Window Manager and the Aero Lite visual style, which also allows modification to a degree similar to the classic theme, it is no longer accessible by the user in Windows 8 and equivalent versions, with Windows Server 2012 switching to Aero Lite and Windows PE using Windows Basic, however, the implementation is still present for compatibility reasons and an application can ask the theme engine to disable theming for its windows, which will force the classic theme. Elements of the classic theme are also used by applications that did not explicitly enable visual styling support in their manifest.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Theme variations (in Windows XP)[edit | edit source]