April 4th 2002
Highlights of Style XP for Windows XP
Style XP is the program that I use to manage my themes & styles; it is an add-on that customizes the way your XP system looks. Style XP is not
a skinning engine, it uses Microsoft's built-in visual style engine, but enhances it by providing many useful tools. Style XP can import, select, rotate, and manage Themes, Visual Styles, Wallpaper, and Logons.
- One of the benefits of using Style XP is its zero footprint operation. Since it uses Microsoft Visual Styles, the engine already exists inside Windows XP and Style XP can automatically unload it and operate consuming no extra resources.
- There is no hooking of SetWindowsHookEx in Style XP. Most skinning packages call SetWindowsHookEx, but aside from consuming extra resources, this also slows down your machine as almost every windows message is looked at by a third party software package.
- Microsoft has added a new themeing API to Windows XP. No other third party skinning engine that I know of, supports this themeing API properly. Unless you are using a true visual style, some themed controls just come up blank.
- Multiple Font Sizes are available, not everyone likes small fonts, including some of our senior citizens. Visual Styles have built-in support for three fonts sizes to accommodate most anyone.
How to set-up
Now on to the workings of the program, it is very easy to set up once it is downloaded. My suggestion is to first DL some visual styles, logons, etc. Make a separate folder for logons, visual styles, & even wallpaper if desired and unzip the files to their respective folders.
Install Style XP to the directory of your choice. After the software installation is complete, Style XP will prompt you to test either the "Toothpaste" skin or the "Coughdrop" skin depending on whether you installed the update (mini) or the full version respectively. If you are a first time installer of Style XP, try either skin to make sure the software is working. This is the first screen you will see. These are the settings that I use on my computer.
Now click on the Visual Styles button and this screen will come up
To add a new style, simply click on the 'Add a New Style' button in the lower right of the screen, browse to the folder you created that holds your visual styles, find the new xxxxx.msstyles and double click. Your new style will show in the window preview pane on the right hand side and the name of the style will be added to the list in the center. Some of the styles also have some different color schemes associated with them, so be sure to check them out as well. You can click on the various colors available on some styles and the preview pane will show their effect. All you have to do is hit the Apply button and the styles takes over.
Move on to the Logon button and you will come to this screen that you will use to manage logons.
Once again, click 'Add a New Logon' and browse to the appropriate folder, find the 'logonui.exe' within the folder of your choice and double click. The preview pane will then show the appropriate logon, the name of the file will added to the center list, and you can apply it if desired. Sometimes the logon will freeze if the author did not test the Logon code well. I have only run across this once in 4 months and I have tried probably 50-60 different screens. If this happens, just reboot your computer. When you get to the logon screen that froze hit Ctrl+Alt+Del twice or three times to get to the normal logon screen. If this does not work, then reboot again and hit F8 when the boot screen choice is presented. Then go into safe mode. Run StyleXP and set the Logon Screen back to XP Default.
The Backgrounds (wallpaper) tab works exactly the same as visual styles and logons.
The Rotate feature allows you to change Themes, Visual Styles, Backgrounds, Logons, or a combination on a Daily, Weekly, or per Logon basis. You can also choose not to Rotate at all (Never is the default). This feature is useful if you do not like viewing the same screen every time you logon. If you choose to rotate Themes, you cannot also rotate Visual Styles and Backgrounds because a Theme is composed of Visual Styles and Backgrounds.
When uninstalling the software, you must make sure you switch to a non-third party Visual Style (such as Microsoft's Windows XP Luna) and the XP Logon before rebooting. If you do not, your screen may be difficult to read after rebooting.
I really like the ease of use that Style XP offers to manage the different components of the GUI. Many of you are not interested in the bit of 'Eye Candy' that is offered by this program but I like being able to change colors, styles, logons, etc. The program does what it advertises and with ease. Hopefully, now that you have seen how easy it is to set up, some of you might give it a try.
The program is absolutely free for the first 30 days, after that it just quits working, so you can try it without any money being invested. Now here comes an interesting concept, the program is shareware at a cost of $19.95 with a full year of updates included with the registration. They seem to bring out a new version (update) about every 3 weeks, so just download the new version and start using it after the old one expires. There are no nag screens until 10 days before expiration and then only at logon.
Layout & design © 2002 Alakazam