XP = Boring…Mod Your PC!

For some reason, I’ve been on a “mod my PC” kick this week. I think I’ve just grown bored of the XP platform, and I’ve been itching to get that same silky interface vibe that I got when XP was first released. I know, I know – some of you are out there rolling your eyes at all of this, but the fact is, Tahoma with the Clear Type setting was really visually appealing the first time around. I loved it, and simply using my laptop was a pleasure thanks to the crispness and silkiness of the display.

Unfortunately, the novelty has long since worn off, and now I can’t seem to resist the urge to make my display somewhat resemble that of the forthcoming Windows Vista. I hinted at it earlier with my reference to Tahoma and Clear Type, and for me, the number one most satisfying aspect of a user interface is the font in which the content is presented. Coming from the design perspective, I’ve really been struck by interface-related fonts like Mac’s Lucida Grande, as well as its Windows XP counterpart, Lucida Sans Unicode. Some of my recent designs (including this site) feature these Lucida fonts (which one you see depends on which OS you’re running). Check out tech.erati or Jack of All Blogs to get a glimpse of what I mean. I especially like the size of the font used on tech.erati – it’s wickedly smooth and legible when you have the Clear Type setting applied to it (for Windows users).

In case you don’t already know about it, you can change (or check) your font display setting by right clicking on your desktop and going to “Properties.” Under properties, go to the “Appearance” tab and then click on the “Effects” button, which is located in the lower right portion of the box. Now, the second setting should say “Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts,” and you’ll want to make sure that “ClearType” is displayed in the box (not “Standard”). Voila! Instant gratification.

So anyway, I alluded to Windows Vista earlier, and if you’ve been fortunate enough to see some screenshots of the new OS, hopefully you noticed the awesome font that they’re going to feature on the interface, Segoe UI. In my opinion, the font looks like a second cousin to the Lucida family, albeit a bit more modern and progressive. There’s actually been a healthy amount of debate about the authenticity of the font (which I don’t necessarily question or care about) because it looks nearly identical to a font called Frutiger Next. According to an article I read, in 2003, the Swiss government commissioned this font for use on ALL road signs in that design-happy country, which I think is completely cool. I, for one, would rather see my tax dollars go into that than into Billy Joe Jerkoff’s coffee breaks alongside the interstate with the rest of his road crew, but I guess that’s neither here nor there.

To make a long story short, I love the fluidity of the Frutiger font family, so I tried (unsuccessfully) to snag the Frutiger Next type face. I did, however, manage to snag the original version of Frutiger, which I don’t think you’re supposed to be able to get without a license. Believe it or not, I got the font courtesy of Microsoft, simply because they bundle the font with Microsoft Reader. All ya gotta do is download the reader (the second option), install it, and then un-install it – because you don’t want that piece of crap taking up real estate on your hard drive anyway. Booyah. Instant Frutiger fonts. I think these are a must-have for designers nowadays, but what do I know?

After getting the font, I modded out my XP interface a bit to show the Frutiger font in my menus and such, but the changes weren’t all that remarkable. Don’t get me wrong – I dug ’em, but it still left me wanting for more. I could always go out and buy a Mac, but that’s ridiculous considering that I really just wanted something different to look at. These days, the en vogue thing to do is get a Mac, but I don’t really feel like there’s a huge advantage to having one – certainly nothing I couldn’t live without. One cool thing, however, is that you get a new interface, and I think that’s one of the aspects of Macs that people find so appealing. It’s not that it’s so great – it’s just different than what you’re hit with every day.

This morning, I decided to try out my beta license for Newsvine, and I saw that the second most popular (or “seeded”) article was one that talked about how to turn your PC into a Mac. I didn’t follow their instructions, but I did, however follow a link that was located in the comments of the Newsvine article link. Instead of requiring seven steps to turn your PC into a Mac, this link requires only two – a simple download and subsequent install. It’s called the FlyakiteOSX, and after installing it on my machine amidst a ton of skepticism, I have to admit – it’s extremely cool. I’m in user interface bliss.

The thing that I found most surprising about this XP theme mod (that’s basically what it is) was the fact that I now see forms, menus, and other interface items displayed in what I think is the Lucida Grande font – not Lucida Sans Unicode, which is what I would have expected. My sites are encoded to display Lucida Grande first and Lucida Sans Unicode second, and what I’m looking at now is slightly different than what I was looking at before I installed this theme modification. To be honest, I really like how Lucida Sans Unicode is a little bit fatter than Lucida Grande, but hey – a little bit of a change never hurt anybody.

Actually, I just checked, and the Lucida Grande font (or a Windows-based adaptation thereof) has been installed on my system courtesy of the theme mod. Pretty cool. I sort of miss my Lucida Sans Unicode, but I can always change that by flip-flopping my fonts, because I currently have Lucida Grande listed first in the coding for my sites. I just re-read this paragraph, and it looks as though I was thinking out loud again. Oh well.

Alright, it’s time for me to get back to work, but I hope some of you who are bored out of your gourds with the now-stagnant XP interface will give this a try. Tell me what ya think!

Take the Next Step!

  1. Share this on Twitter:
  2. Share this on Facebook:

16 comments… read them below or add one

Dennis January 29, 2006

As I was reading this I was thinking…..why doesnt he just get a MAC and all his problems will be solved. Flyakite looks pretty neat but its still not a MAC. So when are you converting?


ben December 28, 2012

because macs are ridiculously expensive for what they are
this is free


Chris P. January 29, 2006

It’s not a Mac I was after here – it’s simply a new look. It just so happens that the Mac interface provides a refreshing bit of relief from the XP monotony which I’ve put up with for like 5 years now.

I’ve got what I want with none of the associated software issues, and everyone who I’ve shown this to is totally diggin it. I dunno – I think it rocks!


Dennis January 29, 2006

I is pretty slick. I tried on on my XP machine. So now I can have my Mac and Mac look on my XP. Thanks for the link.


bteddo June 16, 2006

whenever i try to use Flyakite, it fails. That’s why i use WindowsBlinds. It’s brilliant! It makes perfect sense, and i can adjust from MAC OSX to Linux Redcap. All i do is choose!


xXCreepingShadowXx February 4, 2007

dude u can mod your pc just like you can a xbox its not hard or just buy a new grafics card


A+ certified April 11, 2007

There are millions of themes for xp just search xp mods. I would never consider a MAC interface because plainly its so much more confusing to me than xp as I work on REAL PCs for a living (XP/unix). I got the Vista transformation pac 6 from WindowsX and I’m happy.


the milkman August 8, 2007

rotfl @ a+ certified. mac os IS a unix based system. You obviously need to study some more.


Gold Bishop August 11, 2007

Ditto Milkman….A+ Certified maybe working on REAL PCs but for some reason i just dont think he works on REAL PCs or he would understand and know the competition. Unfortunately, i wont be getting Windows O/S update 7.0, cause it doesnt have the unix kernel as its backbone, since they had thought of that but that would mean they have to redefine themselves instead of staying proprietary.


The Truth September 18, 2007

Why the fuck would anyone want a MAC or LINUX/UNIX, they are shit, MAC’s are for pricks (I know about 30 MAC users in my profession and they are all pricks therefore MAC = Prick) and LINUX/UNIX are for people who have too much time on there hands and no girlfriend/boyfriend/Wife/Husband. Now don’t get me wrong, WINDOWS is awful but I would still choose that over any of the so called competition.


Kaupe February 13, 2008

>>The Truth

Well for starters, 30 people is far less the actual amount of users that do use mac. And as far as the slurs against them, you’re obviously quick to judge. and Linux and unix – says who? I have a girlfriend, i have friends- I have a fairly decent life, and i make my way around my ubuntu just fine. As a matter of fact i have my filldora core right here on my WINDOWS pc. So, i guess in laymen terms – Obvious cyber bully is obvious


Pout a bout March 1, 2008

Lets see, on my A+ Essentials exam I had a bunch Mac questions, and about as many Windows based questions, Prior to my class, I hadn’t used a mac since the late 1990’s, and I didn’t have much time for linux/unix, But recently I have begun to pick up the linux side of things for the time that I would be playing WoW… I do like my windows, Vistra had many headaches, but not as many as I have had with linux/unix. But I still use them. and in all the support for linux/unix is the best around. (except for the guys who tell yah the wrong thing intentionally… but it sure beats being on hold with Microsoft or Apple. for hours. but hey lets get back to the point that there are those of us who want a scenic change every now and again. So to those who take it personally that someone is using a MAC/Windows/Linux like UI,. After all lets look at these posts in this regard, windows is the Protestants, MAC is like the Roman catholics, and Linux/Unix are like Islam. and then people who use one begin to put down the others… and you know what happens next.


zkitz October 22, 2008

Great post,

I too was tired of my XP look, so I applied WindowsBlinds, look so great.. and as I was looking for a new font I came up to this post.. guess I´ll be trying out the Lucida Sans and see how it goes.


Blahbah October 25, 2008

It seems to me that people get way to caught up in these retarded OS wars to understand what the hell is really going on here. Nowhere in this whole post did the person say anything to back up the opinion that he wanted a Mac. Yes I use XP, and I would use Vista, but that is besides the point. This is pointing out something that changes the look of the OS. I am not going to pay upward of 1500 dollars just because I do not like the look of the OS. For all you people trying to blow this out of proportion, get a brain and think about what you type before you actually type. There is no hidden content in this post. Take it at face value.


Linux4Life December 26, 2008

Well all I have to say is… linux still kicks the crap out of Mac and Windows… though Mac OSX is linux based… it is still pretty shitty and not open source lol…


Zchubber January 15, 2009

So what car is best? Mercedes, BMW og maybe Audi?
Its the same about OS. Use that OS you like the best, and don’t care about what other people say about it.
Its a question about religion. People never comes to a conclution.

Linux4Life : Open surce is nice.. But I also understand why some people charge for their work. I don’t work for free either.


Hoot and/or Holler

Previous post:

Next post: