Want the aero look back in the Windows 8 desktop? Try this program out

When Microsoft announced plans for the desktop UI in Windows 8 in 2012, they mentioned that the aero glass look, which was introduced in Windows Vista and continued in Windows 7, would not return for the new version of the OS. Since then, there's been speculation that modders would try to return the aero glass look to the desktop for Windows 8.

A couple of weeks ago, a programmer who goes by the handle "bigmuscle" on the MSFN message boards announced he had completed the first version of a new and small program called simply Aero Glass for Win8. He has since released two more versions of the software, including one that was launched earlier this week.

The programmer says that the app recreates the aero glass look in the desktop for Windows 8 via the Desktop Window Manager. He states:

I have developed DLL library in C++ which is injected into dwm.exe process (no system files replacement is required). Then, the functions used for window border drawing are hooked with my own implementation. This ensures that anytime DWM wants to draw the window border, the code is redirected into my library where I can change the parameters of vertex buffer, blend state and other stuff. Then I redirect back to the original drawing function. Transparent window border is drawn!

"Bigmuscle" says that this program should be considered a preview version, so needless to say you should download and install it at your own risk. It's also just for the 64-bit version of Windows 8. Having said that, the early reviews from users seem to like the results.

Our thanks to Detection for the tip!

Source: MSFN | Image via Bigmuscle

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Some guy was trying to counsel me saying anyone who would question Aero effects being avail in Windows 8, doesn't know what they are talking about.\
Well what do we have here? If the full effects of Aero were avail in Win8, would we need this?

Another third-party add-on to fix the deficiencies of Windows-8, which pandered so much to tablets. First the Start Menu, next the desktop, now the Aero look, what will be next? Will Windows-9 fix them as an integral part of the OS, or has Microsoft abandoned that approach?

Don't think like that. That's a good thing because it is exactly the way Microsoft is contributing to the tech industry: They rip your OS apart, kicking out any feature they don't like and let third-party add-on developers finish the work. By doing so they created a awesome opportunity for people to make money. You would be very surprised to find out how much people are making now just by coding Startisback, Start8, etc..

That's just a start. Today the Aero effect, tomorrow the Windows Accessories, and there would be even more. By Windows 10, all left would be just a kernel. Since all the "extra" functions are now add-ons, It's good news for Microsoft's revenue too, because now they can sell more online unlock code. Just imagine "Windows 10 Pro with Start Menu & Accessories Edition" or "Windows 10 Pro with Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer Edition" - Sounds just right and juicy isn't it?

I know a trick to make things really transparent. There's a button on the top right corner that looks like a "-". It's name is "Minimize". Quite futuristic, huh? This button will make your windows transparent.
Ok, I run out of sarcasmn now.
Well, you guys are trying to make everything transparent. I just want to know why. When you're on your PC do you actually do something or do you spend your time looking at your taskbar and title bars? Don't get me wrong, I'm just curious....

It's not so much about the transparency (ok it does look nice and fancy on Windows 7..) but more about being able to note the difference of windows and what is on top. There is no drop shadow or border highlighting for active windows now, so the entire window chances colour. Something that is lost when you have an desktop full of colourful adverts, pictures and such already.
The glass effect, I expect, lets people moving from windows vista/7 to relate to the window management much in a much more clear way for them.

the aero class look can blend better with the wallpaper making for a more pleasing look. personally I prefer the non transparent new look, but aero can certainly look nice too in its own way.

So you won't, period.

I'm afraid you just need to accept this is their new direction - if it doesn't fit with you go elsewhere or mod it to your needs. Your choice.

From the screenshot, this really doesn't look anything like "Aero Glass" - all I see are semi-transparent borders! I don't see rounded corners on windows, or even the "glass" like effect. A nice hack, but to say this app "recreates the aero glass look" is a little over optimistic!

GreatMarkO said,
From the screenshot, this really doesn't look anything like "Aero Glass" - all I see are semi-transparent borders! I don't see rounded corners on windows, or even the "glass" like effect. A nice hack, but to say this app "recreates the aero glass look" is a little over optimistic!

To be fair, it reproduces the glass look that the developer and consumer preview versions of Windows 8. It was a flatter look that I preferred when compared to Vista's and Windows 7's glass look.

Once you've managed to inject a shader in the window rendering pipe, it's just a matter of injecting the right shader. That's exactly how Aero Glass worked.

slumdogtrillionaire said,
thanks but ill keep xp for now.

Why, you can probably still find a copy of Windows 3.0 if you look harder...

XP, really?

Technically speaking Windows 8 uses Aero, it just dropped Aero Glass. Having that said this thing definitely looks interesting. Combined with a tool to reduce those horrible thick borders this could be a first step towards a more visually pleasing experience...

LUTZIFER said,
Cool... getting more tempted to give Win 8 a shot, but I doubt I actually will.

I like to try things twice. Often the first time you try something and you don't like it is due to it being a shock or the unknown. The 2nd time round you have a better understanding of what to expect and you're better prepared to evaluate what's happening.

My initial impression of the start screen was I felt sick with the screen flashing full screen to a darker screen and then back to a bright desktop and apps. I pretty much had to give up using it since I thought I was going to give my self a seizure or a headache at the least from it.

I tried it again a month later and realised I was just confused about the start screen. It is kind of weird to explain but my brain just couldn't understand that the programs I was running were still there on the task bar, just like in windows 7. Yet, when I wanted to switch to another application I already had open, rather then using the taskbar, I'd hit the corner and open the start screen. It was strange behaviour on my part. I'm still not sure why I was doing it, maybe I was expecting my running programs to show up when the start screen went away, or I was expecting them to cycle on top.

*shrugs*.

Anyway, I stopped doing that, started using the task bar like I always have done before and the start screen to load programs. I do find the start screen much better now, if not a bit clunky on two monitors (when trying to use apps docked on the side) but at least the taskbar has been improved so that's a huge bonus.

Getting used to the flat windows, was weird, I've always used an OS that had some kind of drop shadow or 3d to the widgets/windows. The only thing that has drop shadow now is the mouse cursor and that is somewhat weird. So I turn that off. I would like Microsoft to reintroduce the Aero glass effect from vista/7 back- Unfortunately, I'm not about to use a 3rd party application to do it for me.

Lastly, the improvement in performance over Windows 7 for me is the thing that made me want to upgrade to Windows 8.


So, please do try Windows 8. Try to see what you like about it and what you don't.
Then you can give your own opinion on the OS. A lot of people bad mouth windows 8 without even giving it a try, almost regurgitating what other people have said.

What does it say to Microsoft, having so many people changing their beloved new operating system, to look like their old operating system? I personally use Windows 8, but I only use the desktop. The Apps, I don't give a F$&@ about! Windows 8 is an excellent operating system, minus that damn app screen.

I still use the Classic theme in Win XP/7 - have been since Windows 95 and still love it. With all effects disabled (in performance options) for minimum response times. It's a perfect theme - Microsoft got it right.

I Always prefered the old grey one untill Windows 7 (it varied from time to time tho, somtimes area, sometimes classic) but since Windows 8 I actually don't seem to miss it.
I liked it because of its clear and clean look, simple style. The colored new Windows 8 is horrible, turn it to dark black and it goes back to simple clean. You could also make it grey if you wish

Also do note that in Windows 7 if you use classic, Windows ceases to use GPU acceleration

Same here, but mostly of the screen real-estate view point, XP, Vista borders takes too much of it. But also remove all animations and fluff, when working efficiently you don't any pretty transitions.

JHBrown said,
What does it say to Microsoft, having so many people changing their beloved new operating system, to look like their old operating system? I personally use Windows 8, but I only use the desktop. The Apps, I don't give a F$&@ about! Windows 8 is an excellent operating system, minus that damn app screen.

One of the reasons i upgraded to windows 8 because i wanted start screen no way im going back to the mini start menu from windows 7

68k said,
I still use the Classic theme in Win XP/7 - have been since Windows 95 and still love it. With all effects disabled (in performance options) for minimum response times. It's a perfect theme - Microsoft got it right.

You are actually degrading performance. If you used DWM/Aero the GUI processing would be offloaded to your GPU, thus freeing up CPU cycles. Therefore, using classic mode is not advised.

JHBrown said,
What does it say to Microsoft, having so many people changing their beloved new operating system, to look like their old operating system?

Every single version of Windows has been modded - why is this even a question? MS makes a generic OS for all needs - your specific needs aren't mine and vice versa - there's nothing stopping you from changing the OS in a whole heap of ways. I even used to replace the whole shell back in the XP days.

remixedcat said,

You are actually degrading performance. If you used DWM/Aero the GUI processing would be offloaded to your GPU, thus freeing up CPU cycles. Therefore, using classic mode is not advised.


Not always the case, I have a single core Lenovo, that in fact i had to turn off/disable all DWM aero effects in order to use it properly, also I noticed an increase in battery life as well. The GPU supported aero but the machine cried too much.

The Laughing Man said,

Not always the case, I have a single core Lenovo, that in fact i had to turn off/disable all DWM aero effects in order to use it properly, also I noticed an increase in battery life as well. The GPU supported aero but the machine cried too much.

Yes. Your GPU might have been marginal on the support, therefore it had problems with the effects, which is why you're seeing it work OK when Aero is turned off (and one of the reasons why Vista Home Basic had it turned off totally - because the devices that were shipped with it wouldn't have had GPUs good enough to run it well).

And increase in battery life - makes sense, because your GPU isn't being used (and this is partly the reason why Microsoft dumped Aero in the first place - because battery life is better without it. I suppose they could have left it in for desktop configurations but I wager that it was simpler for them to just have less configurations of window drawing to worry about).

But clearly in normal circumstances, offloading the drawing to the GPU (as long as it's a GPU that can actually cope) is better for performance.

JHBrown said,
What does it say to Microsoft, having so many people changing their beloved new operating system, to look like their old operating system? I personally use Windows 8, but I only use the desktop. The Apps, I don't give a F$&@ about! Windows 8 is an excellent operating system, minus that damn app screen.

It says the same thing that it did when Win 3.1 users would use the MSDOS prompt instead of Program Manager/File Manager, and it says the same thing when users would install the Program Manager/File Manager on Windows95 and replace 'Windows Explorer' as the shell.

Some people do not adapt well to new things. This is will never change.

The reasons for Microsoft 'pulling' the transparency of Aero were justified and the right choice. With the new software DX rendering technologies and server size RDP rendering technologies in the base Windows 8 OS clients and the other few things that caused this change make sense.

PS This hack is not the Aero you are used to, it is not applying the PS texture blend of Vista/Win7, and the way it is hooking into the DWM is not necessary, as an Application could just grab the border paint before it gets tot he DWM.

thenetavenger said,

and the way it is hooking into the DWM is not necessary, as an Application could just grab the border paint before it gets tot he DWM.

Yeah that would totally be a better idea...

NeoandGeo said,
There are 32 bit versions of Windows after Vista? Mind=Blown.

To tell you the truth I have never understood why MS still make 32-bit versions of Windows nowadays. Every single PC that is sold today supports x86-64. 7 should have been the last.

Thief000 said,

To tell you the truth I have never understood why MS still make 32-bit versions of Windows nowadays. Every single PC that is sold today supports x86-64. 7 should have been the last.

16 bit applications. Which are still pretty common in the business sector.
Sadly this isn't likely to change anytime soon.

I would think most companies still using 16 bit software are on XP systems. MS should have committed to the proper advancement of technology and made Windows 8 64-Bit only and been done with it.

RandPC said,

16 bit applications. Which are still pretty common in the business sector.
Sadly this isn't likely to change anytime soon.


Could have been avoided if they had offered a 16bit Subsystem in Windows 64bit - it's technically feasible....

NeoandGeo said,
MS should have committed to the proper advancement of technology and made Windows 8 64-Bit only and been done with it.

Yes, but then Intel would have been in deep trouble with their half-assed Atoms that don't work ok in 64-bit.

Almost all Atoms are 64bit! The only exceptions are the Z-Series, which IMHO is too slow for anything and the very first Netbook generation (N2xx)... Considering that Netbooks are locked out of Windows 8 (too little screen resolution) you can't really blame Atoms for the 32bit edition...

ork said,
On of the reasons i had avoided windows 8. Looks like i will be trying this on my VM first.

I personally tolerate the theme but I always get the impression that the theme was always half complete given how disjointed things look when you open up various bundled system tools such as 'Device Manager' where none of the icons, windows, borders etc. are in sync with the main attempt of looking 'flat and sleek'.

ork said,
On of the reasons i had avoided windows 8. Looks like i will be trying this on my VM first.

VM is depends on your PC. If you don't have a good PC or not enough ram etc, then I guess VM would crash.

The appearance and interface are the least of your worries.. do everything in your power to avoid shutting down irregularly... you'll get the never ending "attempting repair" loop... which cannot be fixed. This is reinstall number 6.