One of Vista’s most useful features is the integrated search in the start menu which can be setup to search all of the files on your computer that have been indexed. This makes it easy to find what you’re looking for, and thus saves you time.
The screenshot below looks like a Windows Vista Start menu, and you’ll notice the Vista ‘orb’ along with the search field at the bottom.
Don’t be fooled, it’s not Vista. Instead, it’s a screenshot of Windows XP using the Vista Start Menu Emulator. Impressive isn’t it? While it’s not as powerful as the Vista Search feature, and not as extensive, it does do a good job of searching the start menu/programs folder.
After downloading it, all I had to do is double click the file, and run it. No installation is required. The Vista “orb’ is placed randomly on your desktop, and then you can move it wherever you’d like. The screenshot above used a Window Blinds theme to change the appearance of Windows XP. By using the theme, you’re able to cover the existing “orb” with the one that the program produces. If you don’t use the theme, you’ll still see the XP start menu icon (see screenshot below).
You’ll notice that the Vista orb is placed to the right of the start menu. This is because I don’t have the Window Blinds theme installed. If I were to drag the orb over the start menu, it wouldn’t replace it, rather it would sit on top of it. You can place the Orb anywhere you’d like on the screen, and by clicking on it, you’ll get the “Vista” start menu to appear.
By right clicking on the orb, you’ll notice a properties section. That’s where you can add programs that will be pinned on the start menu which must be done manually. You’ll also be able to change the transparency of the menu. By hovering your mouse over each of the items on the right side of the start menu, you’ll notice that the top image changes just like it does in Vista.
A couple of things to keep in mind… First, this emulator does not map to the windows key. This means if you push the Windows key on your keyboard, it will pull up the original XP Start Menu. Another small issue is that each time after you enter in a new program that you want pinned to the start menu, you’ll need to exit the program and restart it. It’s not a big deal, and doesn’t take more than a few seconds, but is something you’ll have to remember to do, otherwise your programs will not display.
The download for the Vista Start Menu Emulator is here. Using the emulator easily gives you the chance to use the Vista Search feature without actually purchasing Vista.