Custom Look: 3 Alternatives to Windows Aero

There are many reasons why people may be interested in finding alternatives to Windows Aero, which is the theme Microsoft uses for its Windows appearance on all of the modern versions.

If you want a different aesthetic feel, the computers’ performance may be hampered by Aero, or perhaps you just want additional functions that Aero cannot provide.

1 New Themes

Browse some of our top themes

Windows Aero is not a computer’s operating system. Rather, it is a theme that is designed to provide improved visuals, animations and window pane transparency. Individuals who are not interested in utilizing Aero can likely find plenty of themes available for download on the web. This can become tricky, however, since some of these themes are packed with adware and may actually do more harm than good. It is important to get themes for a Windows-based computer directly from Microsoft itself or from a reputable software developer. End users should also keep in mind that many of the best Aero alternatives are associated with certain costs as well.

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2 Alternatives Found in Windows 7: Basic Themes

Windows 7 and 8 offer users the ability to revert back to a ‘basic’ theme style that is reminiscent of Windows 2000. This theme is more simplistic since it does away with the animations and glass-like aesthetic feel that makes Aero stand out. However, once users have switched to this basic theme, they can go in and adjust things such as window edge sizes, fonts, window colors, border colors and more. In essence, they can create their own theme from the available customization options. Users whose computers do not offer this ability can often download the basic theme that is compatible with their OS from the Microsoft website.

3 Windows 8’s AeroLite Theme


Users who like the way Aero looks and feels on their computers but who may be experiencing some performance issues also have the ability to turn to AeroLite. This is essentially the same thing as Aero, but it is a lighter version that uses far fewer resources and therefore allows the computer to run faster. This is a ‘hidden’ theme that is found in Windows 8, and many users state that it significantly improves performance. Users will need to follow these steps in order to enable AeroLite:

1. Navigate to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes.
2. Copy the aero.theme file to the desktop.
3. Open the newly-copied file in Notepad.
4. In the 5th line of text, change the text after the “=” sign to Aero Lite.
5. Similarly, change the path property at the end of the file under the VisualStyles heading from Aero.msstyles to Aerolyte.msstyles.
6. Save the file with the original filename.
7. Replace the source file in C:\Windows\Resources\Themes with the newly saved file.
8. Right-click the desktop, select ‘Personalize’, and then select Aero Lite from the available themes.

It is important to note that the themes associated with operating systems like Windows 7 and 8 are often the last things to be developed. Because of this, there are few options available—at least immediately following their releases. However, all of these are great alternatives to Windows Aero that can improve aesthetics and computer performance.

Published: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 Last Modified: May 7, 2014

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