I recently purchased a laptop that came with Vista pre-installed as the operating system. I have to be honest here, I am completely dissatisfied with Windows Vista and its current state. The ridiculous boot times, the annoying security confirmation prompts, the unacceptable file operation delays, etc. I truly believe that Windows Vista is not currently ready for a public release. So I dumped Vista and installed a fresh copy of Windows XP Pro; needless to say, much of my day was spent reformatting the machine and bringing it up to speed with the necessary updates and drivers. I tested the machine and it is almost twice as fast now, according to PassMark's PC Benchmarking software.
The only thing I really miss now that I have ditched Vista is the look of the operating system, that was the one spot where Microsoft seemed to place a lot of effort, and it shows in the way the operating system looks. So I set out to to jazz up the machine with a new look, and figured I might as well make it gaming related. I went over to belchfire.net, a site dedicated to themes for Windows platforms. Skinning and themes are nothing new, I just never saw a need for it until I began to miss those little Vista animations.
Here are a few of the gaming related themes that are available at belchfire.net:
In order to apply any of these themes you need software that can read the content of the file and apply the system-wide visual changes, the most popular is WindowBlinds (you can get a free demo of WindowBlinds here from Stardock). And don't stop short by just looking at belchfire.net for themes, there are countless other sites on the Internet for XP themes and visual styles. Also check themexp.org, wincustomize.com, xpthemes.com, or search Google. Now I'm happy with the look, feel and performance of my laptop computer.