Just like in Windows XP, the ability to use custom themes in Windows Vista is limited as Microsoft is locking down that option by default. There is however a very convenient way to unlock custom theme use in Windows Vista.
All you need is the free software Vista Glazz from the developer Code Gazer which, when executed, unlocks the ability to use custom themes and also changes the Vista Aero theme to use Glass effects on maximized windows as well.
The program basically patches several core system files that block the installation of unsigned themes on Windows Vista.
This is pretty useful for those who like to download custom themes from sites like Deviant Art and apply them to their system.
The program has not been updated for some time now, and it is not clear if it is compatible with all service packs that Microsoft has released for Windows Vista in the past.
If you are running Windows XP, Vista or 7 you can make use of Vista Glazz to patch the system's theme files so that you can install third party themes on your system afterwards.
Update: The latest version of the application is compatible with all versions of Vista, and also with Windows XP SP3 and Windows 7 SP1.
An alternative is Universal Theme Patcher which you can use as well to patch Windows system files to install third party themes on the system.
The program supports the classic Windows Vista operating system, as well as all service packs that have been released for it by Microsoft in the past. It supports all different language versions as well, and other Microsoft operating systems like Windows XP or Windows 7.
Even better, it automatically backs up the original files, and provides you with the means to restore them at a later point in time if you ever want to return to the status quo.
The theme patcher is offered for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows, and users need to start the right version for their operating system to patch the files successfully. A restart may be required before the changes become available. Another alternative is the UXTheme Multi Patcher which is also compatible with all mentioned operating systems.
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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.