Windows XP visual styles

Windows XP visual styles are customizations of the graphical user interface of Windows XP. "Luna", "Royale", "Zune", and "Embedded"(Whistler Builds had a theme called "Watercolor") are codenames of the official visual styles designed for Windows XP by Microsoft.[1] Since Windows XP, themes include the choice of visual styles as well.[2] By default, "Luna" is preinstalled on Windows XP Home and Professional editions, "Royale" is preinstalled on Windows XP Media Center Edition and "Embedded" is preinstalled Windows Embedded Standard 2009 and Windows Embedded POSReady 2009. In addition to the preinstalled visual styles, Microsoft has released additional ones for download. Third parties have also released visual styles, though these require modification of core Windows components to work. Visual styles are compatible with all Windows XP editions.

Windows XP core and supplemental themes
Luna, blue (default) Luna, olive green
Luna, silver Classic
Royale (Energy Blue) Royale Noir
Zune Embedded

Compared to previous versions of Windows, the new styles have a greater emphasis on the graphical appeal of the operating system, using saturated colors[3] and bitmaps[4] throughout the interface, with rounded corners for windows.[5][6]

The visual styles API was substantially expanded in Windows Vista and later. In particular, common controls were styled as well. Nevertheless the API remained heavily underdocumented.[7]


"Luna" (the Moon in Latin and various other languages) is the codename for the default visual style of Windows XP. Officially known as "Windows XP style", it is available in three color schemes: blue (default), olive green, and silver.[6][8] Critics who did not like the theme characterized it as a "Fisher-Price interface".[9][10]

Windows Classic

Officially titled "Windows Classic style", it is less CPU-intensive and offers better performance[11] and greater color and font customization options. Windows XP includes 22 preset color schemes for this visual style. Four of them[12] are optimized for the visually impaired. "Windows Standard" scheme was the default color scheme of Windows ME and Windows 2000 and appeared on Windows Vista and Windows 7 although in the latter, it was renamed "Windows Classic". A slightly darker variant of the Standard scheme, called "Windows Classic", was default color scheme of Windows 98 (albeit with a dark blue desktop background instead of green, much like the pre-release versions of Windows 2000) and appeared on Windows Vista but not Windows 7.[13][6] Other schemes appeared in the previous versions of Windows.

Windows Classic style is automatically used in Safe mode and on Win32 console windows. It also appears in Windows Server 2003 through 2008 R2. This Windows Classic theme was removed from Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 for normal use (but still exists in the kernel).


Royale (also known as Media Center style and Energy Blue) was originally designed for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, and was ported to Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005.[14] It is accompanied by a new wallpaper (inspired by Windows XP Bliss). It presents a relucent, vivid and faux-reflective color scheme with intense blue and green colors.

Royale was originally made available in December 2004. On April 7, 2005, Microsoft New Zealand had made the Royale theme and the wallpapers for the New Zealand theme available for download for all editions of XP through Windows Genuine Advantage on its website but no longer exists in 2019. Because of the freeware nature of this package, it had also been available on software download websites, such as Softpedia at one time.

Microsoft did also release a Windows Media Player visualization and skin at one time. The skin was released in Experience Pack for Tablet PC and was available for free,[15] but the installer only installed it on Windows XP Tablet PC Edition devices, for which it was licensed.

Royale Noir

Royale Noir looks like a darkened version of Royale, having a blackish and bluish to purple tint. Royale Noir has a black Start button, which changes to green when the mouse hovers over it. As Royale Noir was leaked and not finalized by Microsoft, it has been noted for some imperfections.[16]


A few weeks after Royale Noir was leaked, Zune was officially released in a theme package to accompany the release of Microsoft's new Zune media player. In terms of style, Zune resembles Royale and Royale Noir, particularly the latter. It displays a brown to light shadow style and is the first visual style for Windows XP to include a differently colored Start button from the green XP.[17][18]


Windows Embedded Standard 2009 and Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 came with a dedicated visual style called Embedded. It is similar to Royale, featuring a mix of dark blue colors.

Third-party visual styles

Windows only loads a visual style that bears a valid Microsoft digital certificate.[19] As such, third-party visual styles can only be used if one of the Windows files called uxtheme.dll is altered to allow unsigned visual styles.[20][21] Microsoft is aware of such a practice and suggests obtaining a newer revision of the patched uxtheme.dll file in case problems occur after Microsoft's own updates to the file have been applied (typically through an OS service pack).[22]

Application support

Third-party applications can be configured to work with visual styles. By default, the title bar and the window borders of Windows Forms-based applications are rendered using the user's preferred visual style, while the rest of the application's graphical user interface (GUI) is rendered in the Classic style.[23] This is because these two different parts of the GUI are rendered using two different software libraries: the title bar and the window borders ("non-client area" or "user controls") use Windows USER, and the remaining controls ("client area" or "common controls") use version 5.8 of the Common Controls Library.[24] Version 6.0 of the Common Controls Library contains both the user controls and the common controls, and developers may configure the application's user interface to be displayed in the user's currently-selected visual style by forcing it to be rendered using version 6.0 of the library.[25][26]

See also


  1. US patent 7752631, Dorn, Karlheinz; Plendl, Mario; Scharf, Christian; von Stockhausen, Hans-Martin, "Device and method for a graphical user interface", issued 2010-07-06, assigned to Siemens
  2. "Visual Styles Overview (Windows)". MSDN. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  3. Kumar, Anil (2010-12-27). Scudder, Rebecca (ed.). "Windows 7 Themes for XP from Deviant Art". Bright Hub. Archived from the original on 2013-10-16. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
  4. Sinchak, Steve (2010-05-21). "Customizing the Appearance of the Windows Interface". Windows 8 Tweaks. John Wiley & Sons. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-118-26459-1.
  5. Mendelson, Edward (2001-10-30). "Interface - The New Windows - Great XPectations". PC Magazine. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on 2012-06-29. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  6. Nadeau, David Robert (2010-05-09). "Java tip: SystemColors for Windows XP user interface themes". Nadeau Software Consulting. Archived from the original on 2014-02-13. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  8. "ThemeColor Enumeration". MSDN. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2012-12-08. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  9. Manes, Stephen (2004-08-26). "Full Disclosure: Your Take on Windows' Worst Irritations". PCWorld. IDG. Archived from the original on 2009-10-08.
  10. Bright, Peter (2014-04-10). "Memory lane: Before everyone loved Windows XP, they hated it". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. Archived from the original on 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
  11. "Tweak Windows XP :: Disabling Themes". Archived from the original on 2012-08-01. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  12. Called "High Contrast #1", "High Contrast #2", "High Contrast White" and "High Contrast Black"
  13. Thurrott, Paul (2008-08-25). "Windows Vista Feature Focus: Windows Vista Standard User Interface". SuperSite for Windows. Penton Media. Archived from the original on 2010-05-22. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  14. Thurrott, Paul (2005-05-08). "Microsoft Gives Royale Theme to All Windows XP Users". Windows IT Pro. Penton Media. Archived from the original on 2014-06-16. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  15. Kendrick, James (2005-07-23). "I hate Outlook with the Energy Blue theme". Gigaom. GigaOmniMedia. Archived from the original on 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
  16. Zheng, Long (2006-10-29). "Royale Noir: secret XP theme uncovered". istartedsomething. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  17. Katta, Sahas (2006-11-05). "Windows XP – Zune Theme". Skatter Tech. Archived from the original on 2014-06-17. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
  18. Carter, Ryan (2006-11-03). "Windows XP Zune theme". Download Squad. AOL. Archived from the original on 2012-12-26. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
  19. Orlowski, Andrew (2001-02-16). "Compatibility woes derail Windows XP Visual Styles". The Register. Situation Publishing. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  20. Jijau, Dragos (2007-01-18). ""Hack" Windows XP Visual Styles". Softpedia. SoftNews NET. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  21. Fitzpatrick, Jason (2008-09-30). "How to Use Custom Windows Visual Styles". Lifehacker. Gawker Media. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  22. "Third-party themes programs may not work as expected after you install Windows XP Service Pack 3". Microsoft Support. Microsoft. 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2012-04-30.
  23. Prabhu, Raghavendra (2003-09-28). "Application.EnableVisualStyles - Cool Client Stuff". MSDN Blogs. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2014-05-09. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
  24. Grossman, Seth (January 2001). "Using Windows XP Visual Styles With Controls on Windows Forms". MSDN. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2012-06-17.
  25. "Enabling Visual Styles". MSDN. Microsoft. 2012-10-27. Archived from the original on 2013-03-22. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
  26. MacDonald, Matthew (2002). "Forms". User Interfaces in VB .NET: Windows Forms and Custom Controls. Apress. p. 158. doi:10.1007/978-1-4302-0844-0_5. ISBN 978-1-4302-0844-0.
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