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Win7 features on an old XP system?

I have a laptop with windows Vista on it, and have even bought Windows 7 (well this copy is either going on my laptop or if I decide to build myself a new desktop, then that), but I still have a desktop with windows XP on – wow it almost sounds as if it’s some ancient system that could well appear on Antiques Roadshow in that sentence.  The desktop computer is only 4 years old and is still used, it connects to my printers for one thing. Some of the new tweaks of the Vista/win7 desktop systems are quite nice and I can miss them when I’m on my XP computer. However it does seem a pain to have to go about upgrading that when I will, at some point, replace the whole thing.

So I thought, well surely there will be some way of emulating those elements on XP – after all if there is something amis with a computer that you use that would make a great invention, Google it and you’ll find someone has done the application for you. I do like the Vista menu over the XP version (I already use Rocketdock instead of having icons on my desktop) and found that there are a few alternatives.

I found two – VistaStartMenu and vistart. On my initial search I found VistaStartMenu and installed the freeware version. It is an obvious improvement over the XP menu, and indeed could be seen as a Vista menu with bells on. However, it comes in two versions a freeware and a paid-for pro version. Features such as aerostyle menus were reserved for the pro version, understandable after all they want you to upgrade, but you also had a get Pro option ever visible in the menu to remind you that you have the free version – this made me think, would I be getting “reminders” in the future then? It is okay having two versions, and there probably some of the features in the freeware version that could have been in the pro version (well, this app seems to be also aimed at vista/win7 users too!). The screenshot below looks good, but this is the pro version, without Aero the non-pro free one occupies a lot of screen space.
screenshot

I remembered that my initial searches had also promoted a freeware app, which must be different to this one, so I went back and found Vistart had been mentioned on a techblog. So I uninstalled the other and put on Vistart. This seems to be more what I was after – a Vista style menu with an aero feel a application search box and not other add-on features I didn’t want. It is also purely freeware, so no worries of any time limitations or upgrade reminders popping up.
screenshot

This second option seems to be more use for me now. The former may well have lots of features, but if I’m not going to use them, it seems daft (to me) to get it – after all its like bank accounts there are those that require a monthly fee and offer tons of “benefits”, but if you don’t use most of them then you are better off with a free standard account and just pay for those elements you want elsewhere. Okay a sudden diversion, but it seemed a reasonable simile.

If this wetted your appetite there’s an indestructible article about Vista-fying your XP completely.

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