The Balloon Tips in Windows Vista look like the ones in Windows XP for the most part. Unlike in Windows XP, where the balloon tips did not really distract users, the balloon tips in Windows XP feel out of place which can be a problem for users who get easily distracted when they pop up.
Longhorn had transparent balloon tips for a while but Microsoft removed the design for unknown reasons, and the feature did not make it into Windows Vista.
Glass Toast is a little freeware application that steps in and makes transparent balloon tips available again under Windows Vista. The application does not need to be installed at all, and can be run from any location on your hard drive.
The left image shows one of the three possible transparency effects of Glass Toast. It surely looks much more in place than the normal solid balloon tips. Glass Toast intercepts all balloon tips and replaces them with a transparent version while keeping the same functionality as the solid balloon tips. This means that you can still click on a balloon tip if the option is given there, everything else remains untouched.
Glass Toast should work under Windows Vista and Windows XP, make sure you download the right version. The first is for 32-bit editions, the second for 64-bit editions. It supports styles which means that you can create your own effects and apply them to the balloon tips.
Update: Glass Toast is no longer available, likely because it has been pulled by its author from the Internet. This can be due to Vista's declining market share, or simply lack of user interest. We are not aware of any comparable software solution that is bringing transparent balloon tips to either Windows Vista or Windows 7.
You can download the latest version of Glass Toast from third party download websites such as Softpedia.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.