Vista Transformation Pack VS Universal Vista Inspirat Brico Pack

The final battle for a Vista look

By on January 17th, 2006 09:30 GMT
Since the first rumors of a new Microsoft operating system, all Windows users, from fans to fanatics, wanted a peak, a sneak preview of what awaits them. As time passed, a lot of developers tried to fulfill this curiosity by creating different themes and skins for Windows XP, but none of them have grown in popularity as Vista Transformation Pack and Universal Vista Inspirat Brico Pack did. Going beyond a simple skin, these two packs try to give their users the closest possible look to what will soon be known as Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows Vista.

Before installing these packs, please note that some safety measures are needed. Do not hesitate to create a system restore point or an image of your working operating system. In most cases, the packs do not harm your system in any way, but caution never hurt anybody.

Vista Transformation Pack

Formerly known as "Longhorn Transformation Pack" (after Vista's initial code name), this application was created by Windows X from Thailand and gave Windows XP users the first real opportunity to feel like they're using Windows Vista. It was done by letting them choose exactly how their Windows should look, from theme to font type and boot image.

Installing…
To novice users Vista Transformation Pack may be a little bit hard to install or configure, since the setup process offers a lot of options to choose from. Some of these changes may be later rolled back with no more than a reboot, whereas some require reinstalling Vista Transformation Pack to take effect.

The options that cannot be changed unless you reinstall Vista Transformation Pack are displayed in the first and second setup windows. These options include among others choosing: a Windows login image, a boot screen, an icon set, a progress dialog and a Start Button flag.


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The following options regard less important aspects of the Vista look such as the clock, the Longhorn sidebar, the wallpapers, the screensavers or the system font.


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When you're done configuring, Vista Transformation Pack will start installing its components and reboot. If you'll follow the instructions exactly, everything will go smoothly.

The Good
The great thing about Vista Transformation Pack is that it contains no less than 20 themes. You don't like how this theme looks? You don't think it resembles Windows Vista as much as you'd like? Then change it! Some of the themes use Vista's dark look, while others keep the bluish look you perhaps like from all operating systems released by Microsoft until now.

Some of the themes resembling Vista offer a beautiful combination of dark (gray or navy blue) colors for title bars and menus, which give windows and dialogs a very user friendly look.


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For those of you that prefer the old blue or want themes that are a bit more colorful, again, Vista Transformation Pack is your answer. You can install Aero Concepts, Plex Style, Royale Glass or Luna (Longhorn Revolution) and enjoy a brighter version of your future Windows Vista.


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Another important element that you've surely noticed by glancing at the screenshots is the set of icons: the quality is fantastic! Vista Transformation Pack will replace most of your system's important icons, such as My Computer, My Documents, Recycle Bin, My Music, Calculator, Outlook Express, Internet Explorer and even the folder icon. As an example for the great work that was put in the icons, you can just look at your desktop or in your Control Panel, you'll be surprised to see how many icons have been changed with new, better ones.


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Vista Transformation Pack can really transform your ordinary looking operating system to what could be called a brand new Windows, changed from scratch to give your desktop a futuristic cool look.


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The Bad
While some of the themes look great, others use a very strange combination of colors. And mixing dark colors with orange or green, just doesn't make a theme that users can install, keep on their system and enjoy for a long period of time.


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Mixing is not the only color related problem: in a few cases, like the Plex Style Media Center Edition, Slate Athens, Longhorn Aero or Aero UI day, the colors are so pale, that using one of these themes for a long time, may cause eye strain.


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It's also sad how some of themes seem to be made in a hurry and promoted to the end users with several important bugs. For example, in some themes using common tasks in a folder is not a very good idea, while in others the combination of dark and bright may have unusual effects.


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Another problem that I've noticed from the very beginning and didn't manage to get used to, is the way windows act while they are being resized. In the process of dragging the mouse some window areas will start clipping.

Using the default font is not always a very good idea. These font problems can be easily detected in the Start Menu and sometimes may be fixed by changing the font, but in the Slate suite for example, the problem is in the theme itself.


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Some things must be left big and such things are the buttons. What's the purpose of a tiny Close button or an icon sized Start button? They're not very practical and give an odd feel to any theme.


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The Truth
Vista Transformation Pack seems to be, at times, a package made in a hurry. A few themes really look good, but even then you'll be surprised to see how they pretty much fail to resemble the Vista look. Maybe because the developer didn't try too much or didn't have the time or ideas or maybe it's just the Vista style that's so hard to recreate. But whether it's the font, the buttons or the colors, there's always something, more or less important, that needs fixing.

To me, Vista Transformation Pack looks like an unfinished job, but I hope Windows X will find the time to fix all major problems and make it easier for the common user to install, use and enjoy all this great work and effort.

Universal Vista Inspirat Brico Pack

Released pretty recently, this package was the Cinderella of all the Windows look enhancing programs. Like all other products and programs released by CrystalXP.net, the Vista Inspirat pack amazed its users with the impressive and really professional look.

Installing…
The Vista Inspirat installer is very easy to use and comprehend. You might as well just push the Next button until it's finished and you can rest assured that nothing important was missed.

The Good
If you'd like to know what the incredible part about Vista Inspirat is, try finding out… how deep the rabbit hole goes. Vista Inspirat changes your system so much that you might even fool somebody you're using a beta release of Windows Vista.

The icons are maybe the best thing about Vista Inspirat. Their quality is amazing and you won't see them only by looking at your desktop, Control Panel or some folders, but in almost any folder. Observe how the icons for jpeg's, bmp's, ini's and even Windows Games or Windows Explorer have been changed. Even the standard buttons won't look standard to you anymore!


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Another interesting and very useful feature of Vista Inspirat is the possibility to give a certain color to your folders. You can mark important folders with red, the love songs folder with pink and your shared documents folder with green just by the two clicks. First right click on a folder, then choose a color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, gray) and your folder's icon will change its color to the one you chose.


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After browsing a few minutes you will surely notice some of the package's interesting components. All windows, dialogs and even menus now have shadows. Tried to access a folder or application? No? Try and see another cool feature: how the icon literally pops out when you double click it.

If all this hasn't impressed you yet, prepare to see how far Vista Inspirat will take you while trying to emulate Windows Vista in the best way possible. Enter the Windows folder or any other folder containing a lot of files or folders and scroll to the bottom using the right bar of your window. Noticed how it changes color while being dragged? That's one feature you surely did not expect.


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But using an operating system is not all about browsing. You transfer files from a folder to another or download them from the Internet every day. Even for such cases the shell was replaced with a new, Vista like interface. Vista Inspirat also replaces the splash screen for Outlook Express. What package goes deeper than this?


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The Bad
Some of our users found Vista Inspirat too black; most of the time, I think it's too bright. Sadly Vista Inspirat does not use a very fortunate combination of colors and even worse, the same type of colors is used for both title bars and buttons or menus. In the end it often doesn't look pretty good.

The buttons, although created at high definition, lack the color needed to attract and just look pale.


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For Windows XP users, it may take some time to adjust with Vista Inspirat's window control buttons that don't have the same dimensions and sometimes blend with the title bar.


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The application is not fully compatible with Windows and all its applications. So please do not try installing it on a 64-bit Windows or edit a picture using the Gimp, they will surely crash.

The Truth
If you can ignore the small visual problems, this pack will satisfy your curiosity regarding the Windows Vista look and feel. Vista Inspirat has a very clean, bright and colorful interface which will make it an almost impossible to remove package from your must have list of applications.

Conclusion
While having 20 themes to choose from is just great, they're not so great when you start looking closely. Installing Vista Transformation Pack will surely not give your system the Vista look you're been hoping for, at least not without a lot of work and tweaking. And since Universal Vista Inspirat Brico Pack integrates almost perfectly with Windows and doesn't have any of the serious problems found in Vista Transformation Pack, I'm proud to present it as the winner in the battle of enhancing your system to mimic the Vista look.

Download: Vista Transformation Pack

Download: Universal Vista Inspirat Brico Pack

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