More free ways to enhance Windows XP

By Scott Dunn

Last week, I listed several products for bringing XP up to par with Vista, both functionally and visually.

Readers responded with their own favorite utilities and improvements to give XP more of Vista’s sizzle.

Give XP a more modern, Vista-like look

In the July 19 issue, I explained how to use $20 “skinning” products to give XP a new look and feel. But Andrew Davies has a cheaper solution:

  • “XPize is better and free! With XPize and Google Desktop Sidebar, everyone thinks I’m running Vista. I love it!”
Thanks, Andrew! XPize gives XP a couple of new looks (blue and grey) for your title bars and Taskbar, but doesn’t support any additional downloadable skins. However, it’s perfectly free, as Andrew points out.

Also free is the Vista-like Desktop Sidebar from Google.

K9 provides free parental-control alternative

Regarding the parental controls described in the last issue, reader Russ Mellnick writes:

  • “I just wanted to tell you about a free Internet and parental-control software called K9 Web Protection.”
Thank, Russ. I haven’t used this product, so I can’t personally vouch for it. But it did get 4 out of 5 stars in a review on the Web site “What PC?”

Home version of XP incompatible with Virtual PC

The July 19 issue also describes a Virtual PC feature that users of XP can download from Microsoft. But reader Gerhard Oberschlick points out something I failed to mention:
  • “At the given link, Microsoft says: ‘Virtual PC 2007 runs on: Windows XP Professional [and] Windows XP Tablet PC.’ In other words, not on XP Home, and that’s unfortunately me. For a long time, I’ve been looking for the ability to run MS Word for DOS on my XP Home computer.”
Gerhard is right. You can find the complete system requirements for Virtual PC at Micrsoft’s Web site. The good news, however, is that the free VMware Player, which I also mentioned in my original article, does support Windows XP Home, according to the app’s user manual. The document is available from the VMware Web site in PDF form.

Readers Davies, Mellnick, and Oberschlick will receive gift certificates for a book, CD, or DVD of their choice for sending tips that we printed. Send us your tips using the Windows Secrets contact page.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-07-26: