One of the biggest advances in Windows Vista has got to be the visual appearance. We have seen several attempts at trying to mimic the Vista user interface on XP, and some have been pretty successful. One of the most popular applications for doing this has got to be the Vista Transformation Pack. This bundle changes almost everything on your XP computer to make it look as close to Vista as possible.

Now another step is being taken by the creator of the Vista Transformation Pack in preparation for version 7 that is to be released later on. This new step involves a new and improved Start Menu that has many similarities to that of Vista:

Vista Start Menu for XP
Click to Enlarge


As you can see there is no pop-out menu like Windows XP normally has, and instead it is all contained within the one window. Not only that, but it also has the same icons at the top-right corner that you normally see when hovering over the items on the right-side of the Start Menu. Heck, I even liked it because I could use it with any normal XP theme which you can see in the picture!

Just like in Vista, the power button expands when you click on the arrow in the bottom-right corner to reveal all of your shutdown/restart/standby choices. The only thing that still remains not functional is the search bar, but the developer says that he does have plans to make that work. Hopefully he decides to integrate that with a search indexing service like Google Desktop or Windows Desktop Search.

So what do you have to do to try this out? It is in public beta right now and is available as a stand-alone program. The developer will probably be including this in the Vista Transformation Pack 7 (VTP 7) which will hopefully be available soon.

The great thing is that you can play with this Vista-like Start Menu by simply downloading the files, extracting them, and running the program! There is no installation required, so you don’t have to worry about messing anything up. One thing that you should note is that after running the program you won’t be indicated in any way that the program is running. I actually tried running it three or four times before clicking on the Start Menu and noticing that it was already running. :)

Visit the VistaStart Public Beta site (Download the file immediately from our Mirror)

Here is an important note from the developer:
Known issues that can’t be fixed: You need to turn off “show shadows under menus” visual effects because that will cause flashing shadow when you open start menu.