How to Make Windows XP Look & Behave Like Windows 7 for Free

OK, OK – I get the message . . . after writing the article "Make Windows XP Look Like Vista" I followed up with "Make Windows Vista Look Like Windows 7" — so people began to bug-me to combine the information from both articles and create THIS article you’re reading now!
Sure Microsoft has released Windows 7 — but some of the new Windows 7 features are also available for Windows XP!  
Make Windows XP Look & Behave like Windows 7 in Three Steps: 
    1. Install Updated Microsoft Windows Components
    2. Install Free Windows 7 "Style" Programs
    3. Make Windows XP "Look like" Windows 7
AutoPlay Malware Protection – disables the AutoPlay feature which has been abused by malware (like Conficker)
ClearType Tuner makes it easier to read text on your screen by installing ClearType technology in the Control Panel just like Windows 7.
Data Execution Prevention (DEP) monitors programs to verify whether they are using system memory securely.  Unlike Windows 7, Windows XP’s DEP is only enabled for necessary operating system programs and services because not all software programs run smoothly with DEP.  To enhance security, you can turn on DEP for all programs and then define exceptions for individual programs and services.
How to enable DEP for all programs
    1. From the Control Panel, click System
    2. Click the Advanced tab, then click <Settings> under Performance
    3. Click the Data Execution Prevention tab, select Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select, and then click OK.
    4. Save & Restart the computer for this change to take effect
Defining exceptions – If certain programs cause problems, define them as exceptions.
    1. From the Control Panel, click System
    2. Click the Advanced tab, then click <Settings> under Performance
    3. Click the Data Execution Prevention tab, then click <Add>
    4. Search & select the program file you want to add as an exception, click Open, and then click OK.
    5. Repeat Step #4 as needed
    6. Save & Restart the computer for this change to take effect
Desktop Search 4.0 updated search component included in Windows 7. (Available for Windows XP & Windows XP 64)
exFAT advanced file system format support for Windows XP.
Fingerprint Reader – Windows 7 has advanced built-in support for biometric devices. However, if you don’t own a biometric device, there’s no reason to install Microsoft’s DigitalPersona Password Manager 2.0  (Support: How to . . .)
Image Mastering API v2.0 (IMAPIv2.0) enables IMAPIv2 dependent applications to stage and burn images to CD and DVD optical storage media.
Internet Explorer 8  – Currently in its second beta, this upgrade to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has lots of great new features; which is why it’s built-in to Windows 7! (Available for Windows XP & Windows XP 64)
Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) – Built-into Windows 7; support for this new suite of standard protocols for the Network layer of the Internet, was updated beginning with Windows XP Service Pack 1 (you better have SP3 installed!) or the Advanced Networking Pack for Windows XP.
Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) Responder – The network map on a computer running Windows 7 shows a graphical view of the computers and devices on your network and how they are connected by using the LLTD protocol. The LLTD responder must be installed on a computer running Windows XP before it can be detected and appear on the network map.
MSCONFIGWindow XP’s System Configuration Utility has been updated to add a Tools tab "just like" Windows 7.
.Net Framework 3.5 – Actually you can one-up Windows 7 by installing .Net Framework 3.5 with Service Pack 1 (Available for Windows XP & Windows XP 64)
PowerShell command-line shell & scripting language allows managing computers via commands or scripts, improving productivity through system automation. (Available for Windows XP & Windows XP 64)
VHD Support is native to Windows 7 — but you can have this same functionality with Microsoft’s Virtual PC 2007. (More Info: B# .Net)
WIM Image Deployment – While Windows 7 is distributed as a WIM image file (resulting in a quicker and more streamlined installation), Windows XP is not distributed as a WIM image. Tools included in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) and Microsoft  Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2008 do support creating file-based Windows XP images, but these images are not componentized in a way that allows IT pros to inject drivers. (Support: Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) User’s Guide)
Windows Defender provides AntiSpyware protection that’s built-in to Windows 7 (Available for Windows XP & Windows XP 64)
Windows Feature Pack for Storage 1.0 – enables the Windows platform to do master style optical burning on Blu-Ray media, as well as support for new Smart Card Driver form factors, such as ICCD.
Windows Live Beta Program Bundle – Windows 7 will come with Microsoft’s Windows Live software preinstalled. 
    • Family Safety
    • Mail
    • Messenger
    • Microsoft Office Live Add-in
    • Microsoft Office Outlook Connector
    • Movie Maker Beta
    • Photo Gallery
    • Toolbar
    • Writer
Windows Media Player 11 – this updated media player is almost as good as version 12 which is standard within Windows 7 (Available for Windows XP & Windows XP 64)
    • DivX Video Codec Support – Windows 7 includes support for a wide range of advanced video & audio codecs (i.e. AAC, H.264 & DivX) . . . currently you can install the Windows DivX codec. 
Windows Rights Management Services Client is required for your computer to run applications that provide functionality based on Windows RMS technologies.
Windows 7 Fonts – The Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel and Powerpoint 2007 File Formats  also includes the following Windows 7 fonts: 
    • Calibri
    • Cambria
    • Candara
    • Consolas
    • Constantia
    • Corbel
XML Support: Microsoft Core XML Services (MSXML) 6.0 & XML Paper Specification Essentials Pack view, generate & index XPS Docs is now built-in (and enhanced) within Windows 7.
Alt-Tab Preview Replacement in addition to the icon of the application window you are switching to, you see a preview of the page similar to Windows 7.
Updated Calculator(s) – Windows 7’s Calculator has many new built-in features which can be found in these two free Microsoft programs.
CaptureIt – A utility for capturing screenshots like the "Snipping Tool" in Windows 7.
Edison – Microsoft’s free energy monitoring application to actively control PC’s energy consumption "sorta like" Windows 7.
GAMES – Windows 7 introduces 3 new Windows Internet Games: Backgammon, Checkers, and Spades. But don’t feel left-out; Microsoft has you covered with Free On-Line Games from MSN:
Image Resizer Poweryoy & Image Resizer Powertoy 64-bit resizes one or many image files with a right-click. (Support: How to . . .)
ISO Recorder PowerToy makes images of CDs & DVDs to create ISO images.
Microsoft Product Support Reporting Tool (MPSReports) facilitates the gathering of critical system and logging information used in troubleshooting support issues. This information helps diagnose problems in the software quicker and provide solutions.
Network Diagnostics for Windows XP Tool (xpnetdiag) analyzes information about your network connectivity to help troubleshoot common connection problems.
Open Command Window Here adds an "Open Command Window Here" context menu option on file system folders, giving a quick way to open a command window.
Schedule Automatic Disk Defragmentation helps maintain your hard disk’s performance. (Don’t worry, it’s much easier within Windows 7.)
Time Zone conveniently runs in the system tray (similar to Windows 7) and allows you to easily view the date and time in various locations around the world. You can also quickly and easily add your own personal locations to customize Microsoft Time Zone the way you want.
Touch Screen – Windows 7 includes multi-touch screen technologies. While not as cool, here Microsoft released software updating Windows XP Tablet PC’s capabilities:
    • Calculator – An updated pen based calculator for writing the numbers for calculations on your Tablet PC.
    • Microsoft Office – These updates improve ink recognition when using Office XP or Office 2003 on your Tablet PC.
    • Snipping Tool –  Use your tablet pen to select a portion of a website, document, or other content on your screen.
VPN Monitor – installed as a Windows Service, this tool monitors VPN connection and reconnects if specified hosts are unavailable (similar to Windows 7’s VPN Reconnect.)
Wallpaper Rotator allows to dynamically change the desktop background.
Stop Using Windows Classic Settings
  1. From the Control Panel double-click System
  2. From the Advanced Tab click-on the Performance Settings button
  3. From the Visual Effect Tab click-on Adjust for best appearance
  4. Click OK
  1. From the Control Panel double-click Taskbar & Startmenu
  2. From the Start Menu Tab click-on Start Menu radio button
  3. Click OK 
  1. From the Control Panel double-click Mouse
  2. From the Pointers Tab select Enable pointer shadow
  3. Click OK 
  1. From the Control Panel double-click Folder Options
  2. From the General Tab select Show common tasks in folders
  3. Click OK   
Install the “secret” Microsoft Royal Noir Desktop Theme (no, you will not have translucent Aero title bars – but this official Microsoft theme is "close" to Windows 7) 
Change the Windows system colors. Microsoft spent a great deal of time and money developing this specific Windows 7 color theme. 
  1. From the Control Panel double-click Display
  2. From the Appearance Tab click-on the Advanced button
  3. From the Items pull-down menu select & change the color values below
  4. Repeat for all colors below
  5. Click OK twice

ITEM Color 1 
Hue 160 Red 240
Sat 0 Green 240
Lum 226 Blue 240
FONT Color 
Hue 160 Red 0
Sat 0 Green 0
Lum 0 Blue 0
ITEM Color 1 
Hue 141 Red 153
Sat 91 Green 180
Lum 170 Blue 209
ITEM Color 2 
Hue 140 Red 185
Sat 129 Green 209
Lum 197 Blue 234
FONT Color 
Hue 160 Red 0
Sat 0 Green 0
Lum 0 Blue 0
ITEM Color 1 
Hue 160 Red 180
Sat 0 Green 180
Lum 169 Blue 180
ITEM Color 1 
Hue 160 Red 171
Sat 0 Green 171
Lum 161 Blue 171
ITEM Color 1 
Hue 160 Red 0
Sat 0 Green 0
Lum 0 Blue 0
ITEM Color 1 
Hue 140 Red 191
Sat 67 Green 205
Lum 193 Blue 219
ITEM Color 2 
Hue 141 Red 215
Sat 122 Green 228
Lum 215 Blue 242
FONT Color 
Hue 134 Red 106
Sat 28 Green 124
Lum 113 Blue 134
ITEM Color 1 
Hue 145 Red 244
Sat 137 Green 247
Lum 233 Blue 252
  • MENU
ITEM Color 1 
Hue 160 Red 240
Sat 0 Green 240
Lum 226 Blue 240
FONT Color 
Hue 160 Red 0
Sat 0 Green 0
Lum 0 Blue 0
ITEM Color 1 
Hue 160–  Red 0
Sat 0 Green 0
Lum 0 Blue 0
ITEM Color 1 
Hue 140 Red 51
Sat 240 Green 153
Lum 144 Blue 255
FONT Color 
Hue 160 Red 255
Sat 0 Green 255
Lum 240 Blue 255
ITEM Color 1 
Hue 40 Red 255
Sat 240 Green 255
Lum 226 Blue 255
FONT Color 
Hue 160 Red 0
Sat 0 Green 0
Lum 0 Blue 0
ITEM Color 1 
Hue 160 Red 255
Sat 0 Green 255
Lum 240 Blue 255
FONT Color 
Hue 160 Red 0
Sat 0 Green 0
Lum 0 Blue 0

Windows 7 Desktop Wallpapers
Turn-on the "Quick Launch Toolbar" – Windows 7 uses the Quick Launch and the new "Jump Lists" for easy access to applications and data.
    1. Double-Click "Taskbar and Start Menu" from the Control Panel
    2. From the "Taskbar" Tab, select "Show Quick Launch" and UNselect "Lock the taskbar"
    3. Click <OK>
Widen the Windows Toolbar – Windows 7’s system tray clock displays both the time and date.  (See “Show the system icon clock” below)
    1. Hover the cursor at the top of the Windows Toolbar until the double-arrow appears.
    2. Click-n-Hold to "stretch" the Windows Toolbar to display both the time and date.
Tame your System Tray Icons – Windows 7 has an easy method to enable / disable your system tray icons. While not quite as convenient, here’s how to manager your Windows XP icons.  (Note: The system clock is "on" by default).
      1. Double-Click "Taskbar and Start Menu" from the Control Panel
      2. From the "Notification area" section , select / unselect “Show the clock”
  1. Double-Click "Taskbar and Start Menu" from the Control Panel
  2. From the "Notification Area" section select "Hide inactive icons" then Click "Customize…" 
  3. Change the behavior of each icon:
      • Hide when inactive
      • Always Hide
      • Always Show 
Tame your Desktop Icons – Windows 7’s Desktop is extremely clean with only the Recycle Bin displayed.
  1. Double-Click "Display" from the Control Panel
  2. Under the "Desktop" Tab, Click "Customize Desktop"
  3. From the "General" Tab select / unselect various desktop icon choices:
      • My Documents
      • My Network Places
      • My Computer
      • Internet Explorer (If  the icon is "missing"

About blakehandler

BLAKE was a Microsoft MVP and award winning programmer with over 20+ years experience providing complete Windows and networking support for small to medium sized businesses. BLAKE is also Jazz Musician and Instructor for residential clients on the Los Angeles West Side.
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3 Responses to How to Make Windows XP Look & Behave Like Windows 7 for Free

  1. Tolbert says:

    Lots of good tweaks. The color scheme doesn’t work too well, I can’t adjust the numbers to the numbers listed above, but still a great site!

  2. Felipe says:

    Me either but still a great site with good tweaks , thanks

  3. Lauria says:

    To No name.If you change the colors, the other information will automatically adjust to what is stated above. You also have to click OK after adjusting each. Once you have adjusted the item completely, then you can hit OK for that final time.

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